Arethusa Falls Hike / by Douglas Koski

It was a beautiful day and Sinéad was stuck working, so I took a little adventure up to the White Mountains for the morning.  I had been wanting to see some decent waterfalls, but didn't want to take too long of a hike in the process.  News of 3 waterfalls in what looked to be a single nearly mile long hike had found its way to my attention, so I took the opportunity to have a little road trip.

The drive was a bit long, but the anticipation of what was ahead kept me moving along.  I had debated stopping by the Basin again as I had my tripod, but wasn't sure how long the main trail was going to take and opted to skip until after...  If I had time...  I made it to Arethusa Falls Road, and was fortunate enough to have a car pull out as I was pulling into the parking lot.  I quickly backed-in to take my spot in the filled parking lot.  Geared up, showered in some OFF, and took a quick look over what I could only assume was Frankenstein cliffs.

With the weight of my bag I was already breathing heavy on my way up the hill to the trail head.  Could have lost some of that weight before fully diving into the hike, but I needed the conditioning for Washington and opted to keep as much weight as I could.  Took a few more photos of the cliffs on my way up the hill.

After enjoying some nice views I finally came to the trail head.  Grabbed a photo of the wonderful map they had erected before I entered the trail.  

It wasn't far into the hike before the trail split.  I wanted to catch all the falls in order of size so I decided to follow Bemis Brook Trail to start.  I was going to wish that I had decided to save that trail for return, but that is the harsh beauty of "learning from experience."

The trail did indeed get you right down by the brook!

The payoff started quickly with Bemis Brook Trail.  I came upon a lovely little spot called Fawn Pool and decided to get some of my gear unpacked.

 I stopped long enough to get a couple shots.  I had a 3 stop neutral density filter so I was able to take some shots at longer exposures.  As I was hiking what that fixed on my lens, I wasn't able to get many shots during the hiking portion.   

I couldn't stay to enjoy the spot too long.  I was under a bit of a time crunch, and had a lot more to explore!  I packed back up (this time tripod in one hand, camera in the other) and negotiated the tricky trail to the next location. 

Bemis Falls

I think this was actually one of my favorite spots on the hike.  This was a beautiful little waterfall that allowed me to setup right near it's base.  I got my camera setup, and locked the the remote shutter to take the series of shots while I took in the beauty of this spot.  

3 shot panorama consisting of 187 total images for a 1.76 second exposure.

Again reminding myself that I couldn't linger too long, I packed up and made my way to the next set of falls.  It wasn't too far a path, balancing on what narrow a path there was, before I made it to my next stop.

Coliseum Falls

111 images for a 22 second exposure

This was also a lovely, uncrowded little spot.  I perched myself fairly close to the edge of the ledge, and took the shot series to later make my photo.  This was also a beautiful spot, but I again could not stay too long.  I knew that the trail was set to take a hard turn back towards the main Arethusa Falls trail.  What I did not expect was that I was going to cover near all the elevation that trail had already gained.  It was a tough climb up that bit of trail, and I nearly lost my breakfast at the top.    


Where the paths met

There was a nice rock bench here...  It was the most welcomed sight of the hike!

The remaining trail was fairly easy to handle.  It was just quite a bit longer than I expected, and I never allowed myself to fully recover from the steep portion of the hike (figured it was best to push myself as hard as I could).  There were a few lovely bridges, some nice stairs, and a few long stretches of mud.  I also got to make a new friend on the trail who was also hiking alone that day.  We offered each other some sparse conversation as our lungs kept up with the climb.  The last .2 miles of the hike up was pretty much all downhill.  The negative pitch sped our pace and it wasn't long before I could see the water falling through the breaks in the trees.  Eventually I made it to my final waterfall for the day.

Arethusa Falls

I stayed to take photos just long enough to fully get my breathing back to normal.  I took a couple shots, and was hoping people would move enough for me to edit them out of the photos later.  Most of the people were keeping pretty still, though.  So, I will have to try these falls again at another time.  It was still a breath taking waterfall to see, and was far more immense than I expected it to be.

170 images for a 34 second exposure

The hike back down was quick and fairly easy.  My knees are getting stronger from the hikes I have been doing with Sinéad.  If I were to hike this trail again, I would recommend doing the Bemis trail on the return trip.  The hike down to the Bemis Falls just would need to be handled slow and cautiously!  It is really that steep of a section.  Can't wait to get back out to this place in the future!

All Trails recording

I was amazed that my All Trails app was able to record this hike.  The graph for the elevation gain is horribly off, but I had no service with AT&T during the hike.