More of a pleasant stroll than an actual hike, this gentle path leads to one of New Hampshire’s most beautiful waterfalls. The entire walk is only a mile (round-trip), so this waterfall is easily accessible by nearly anyone, regardless of age or fitness level.
Sabbaday Falls has to be one of the prettiest waterfalls I have visited. There is a reason it is on the current cover of the White Mountains Visitor Map & Guide – it is very photogenic.
The falls were once known as Church’s Falls, named after Frederic Church, who was a landscape painter. The area is now known as Sabbaday Falls. The name was allegedly coined by some road builders who stashed their tools near the falls, so they wouldn’t have to carry them home at the end of the building season and could return to them the next year. Before leaving on a Sunday morning they named the area for the “Sabbath Day” or shortened to “Sabbaday”. Later, the Shackford family had a house nearby after the Civil War. They housed guests visiting the White Mountains and ushered them to popular spots, such as these falls.
This is a fee area, so you will need to deposit $3 for a parking pass for the area. The waterfall has an overall drop of 35 feet, but the main plunge is 22 feet. The pathway up the stairs gives you very close looks along the entire waterfall. Similar to much of the interesting geology in the area, this gorge was formed by a glacier carving through the rock. You can see near the base of the falls, some clear lines of black basalt dikes mixed in with the granite. These are formed from the rapid cooling of molten rock.
For those hoping to bag some geocaches, there are a few in the area:
This is a very easy “hike” that is very family-friendly and takes you to a great place to get some photos. I highly recommend a trip next time you are in the White Mountains.
This short one-mile walk can barely be considered a “hike” – it follows a smooth, well-graded path and several sets of wooden stairs to a view of spectacular Sabbaday Falls.
The wide, crushed stone trail runs parallel to crystal-clear Sabbaday Brook. At .3 miles, you’ll arrive at a clear, green pool bottomed by round stones. Water enters the pool through a narrow chute between two sheer rock walls. At the top of the chute lies the lower half of the falls. This section of the waterfall is the smaller of the two. Even though it’s smaller, it’s no less pretty. The rock formations are dramatic in this section. There is even a perfect, round “pothole” in the stone.
The top of the falls is about tenth of a mile beyond and is reached via a couple walkways and sets of steps. The upper falls are quite a bit taller, and sit at almost a right angle to the lower falls. Without a doubt, this is one of the prettiest waterfalls I’ve seen in the area so far.
The trail has a railing and staircases to make viewing safe and easy from almost any angle. There are signs all up and down the trail indicating that swimming is prohibited in the falls. However, when we visited, there was a group of four unsupervised kids that kept getting into the pool at the very top of the waterfall. It was pretty dangerous. They generally acted like idiots and were the main reason we didn’t hang around the falls for very long.
Sabbaday Falls is very popular, and you should expect thick crowds.
- Distance – 1 mile, out-and-back
- Elevation Change – 125 ft
- Difficulty – 1. Very easy!
- Trail Conditions – 5. Smooth and well-graded with well-planned stairs and railings.
- Views –0. You’ll be in the shady woods the entire time.
- Waterfalls/streams – 5. Simply gorgeous!
- Wildlife – 0. The heavy human traffic probably scares any wildlife away.
- Ease to Navigate – 5. Impossible to get lost.
- Solitude – 0. Prepare for heavy crowds. People love Sabbaday Falls!
Directions to trailhead:
From Conway, NH follow the Kancamagus Highway for about 15 miles. The trail parking is well-marked.