Frankenstein Cliff and Arethusa Falls

The Frankenstein Cliff trail-head is located in Crawford Notch State Park and parking is right off the highway directly on 302. The typical hiking time for this loop is about 3 hours 30 min. but due to my arthritic condition, it took about almost 6 hours, but the views made the trip well worth the pain.

The Frankenstein Cliffs – Arethusa Falls trail is approximately a 5.7 mile loop (includes trip to the falls) with some slippery steep inclines when covered with fall leaves. There were sections of the trail that have a few ‘oh crap’ moments if you have any fear of heights as the slopes off the narrow trail are quite steep and there is a lot of very loose gravel on the trail to make things interesting. There are a few spots that will require using hands to get up the rocks but nothing technical.

There is a narrow outlook about half way up the cliff trail where you get a great view of mount Washington and some of the presidential range.

I always go up the steepest part of trails as opposed to down as it is easier and safer to climb steep sections than to go down them. The steep part is the trail up Frankenstein Cliff which first leads to and under the Frankenstein Train Trestle which in of itself is quite cool as it was built in 1875 with wrought iron and replaced in 1893 with steel. The area has excellent views if you climb up to the tracks from the bottom, be aware that the tracks are actively used by the Conway Scenic Railroad, so be very cautious near the tracks.

From the tracks things get much steeper as you climb up to the top of the cliff where you will have one of those moments where you will want to shout out ‘oh ya, really cool, it was worth it’. The cliff’s ledge area at the top gives an incredible view of the surrounding area. the drop off is quite abrupt at the edge with an approximate 1000′ drop off to the valley floor, all that being said, I would not recommend bringing young children on this part of the trail or up to the cliff.

The remaining hike from the cliff to the falls was mostly a woods walk and no where as steep as what we had come up. To get to the Arethusa Falls you must take a short offshoot from the main trail that will bring you to the base of the falls. The falls are the tallest cascade in NH at approx 200′, however at this time of year and with the current drought it was just a trickle of water coming over the top, early spring is a much better time to visit the falls when the snow melt is running at an impressive rate.

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