“The falls flow down a spur of the Mote Mountain just in the rear of the lower ledge. The loose rocks are thrown about in such complete confusion that it strikes the eye, fresh from the finished landscape around the meadows, as a patch of chaos too obstinate to be organized into the general cosmos.” -Thomas Starr King, author of The White Mountains, Their Legends, Landscapes, and Poetry
Hidden near the base of the Wildcat Mountain Ski Area in northern New Hampshire sits a 150 foot seven-tiered cascading waterfall that passed out of public knowledge for much of the 20th century. Originally “discovered” and named by famed landscape artist Benjamin Champney of the White Mountain School in the mid-19th century, Thompson Falls is one of the hidden gems of the White Mountains.
Up until 2011 - when the Thompson Falls Trail became an official trail of the White Mountain National Forest - the falls had largely remained a mystery. Apart from an appearance on the 1942 USGS North Conway quadrangle and a brief mention in an AMC White Mountain Guide dating to the 1950’s, the falls were relatively unknown. Fortunately for visitors today, Thompson Falls can now be reached by an easy hike of just under one mile.
With plunges reaching in excess of 20 feet, the falls offer the natural beauty that has come to be associated with the region. Moreover, Thompson Falls is without the heavy foot traffic that one often finds at other nearby sites, such as the nearby Glen Ellis Falls, making for an all-around better experience.
The lowest tier, often described as a “clam-shaped” fall, also features a pool deep enough for swimming, while the nearby rocks offer ample opportunity for exploration.