For some, the word “hiking” leads to unpleasant thoughts. There are visions of heavy backpacks, ropes and buckets of sweat pouring off your body. For those not in the best of shape, it seems like an unfortunate way to spend a vacation. After all, the purpose of getting away from the daily grind is to recharge, not to wear yourself out.
This sort of thinking can be unfortunate. Not all hiking has to be of the sort chronicled by the so-called “adventure travel” folks. In fact, you can have a great time out in the woods without running yourself ragged. Hiking can be a blast, especially when you choose trails that are easy to navigate, not too hard on your body and still deliver an incredible payoff.
This is exactly what I found at Arethusa Falls.
Arethusa Falls is tucked away in New Hampshire‘s White Mountain region, not too far from Mt Washington, where you’ll find some of the worst weather in the country. Unlike Washington, and nearby intimidating peaks Adams and Jefferson, Arethusa Falls sits at the end of a fairly short trail (not even two miles long). The path can be a bit hilly and rocky, but it’s far from the sort of environment in which equipment is needed – a good pair of hiking boots is fine. You certainly won’t need to toss a heavy burden on your back, as you’ll be out for only a few hours.
The Falls aren’t that high up; you’ll only climb to an elevation of 1,100 feet. Though hilly at spots, the trail is certainly manageable. Because of the elevation, it isn’t much colder at your destination than it is at the starting point, unlike many of the trails in the area that take you a few thousand feet above sea level.
The jaunt to Arethusa Falls is nothing short of pleasant – especially if you’re sharing the experience with someone interesting or important to you. Though the trail isn’t wide enough to walk side by side, it’s great to feel the presence of someone with you – in front or behind – as you walk toward what you will later see for yourself to be a stunning natural sight.
The sound of water moving is loud enough, so it’s easy to be deceived as you walk toward the falls. After you’ve been walking for a bit, you might want the sound of the nearby stream to be Arethusa Falls. Don’t succumb! It’s easy to say this now, but you’ll know when you’re near the waterfall … it just gets so much louder.
As the sound of rushing water intensifies, you’ll be overcome with the sensation that you’re close. Keep going. If the sound keeps getting louder, you’ll know that you’re close.
When you get to Arethusa Falls, the trail opens into a view of the river, with the falls off to the right. You can walk down to the rocks in the river, which afford better views (definitely bring a camera). Near the banks, you’ll have no trouble scoping out a place that’s sturdy and easy to reach, though the more adventurous will have options farther toward the middle (getting all the way across, realistically, is impossible).
Pack a lunch to enjoy while you sit on the rocks and enjoy the falls; take your time enjoying this incredible experience. But, eat some light fare, because you will have to walk back to the car!