Basin-Cascades Loop

This short hike though multiple small falls along Cascade Brook was a fun way to explore Franconia Notch and even included a few swimming holes

My partner and I were looking for a short hike that was a short way from Hancock. Overwhelmed by the crowds at the Flume Gorge we settled on this hike and were more than pleased. After parking right off of 93 we passed under the highway and navigated heavy crowds of tourists. We took a quick peek at The Basin which is a pretty cool geological formation. We decided to continue on to the Basin-Cascade Trail where we knew a short walk would separate us from the crowds and bring us to some more waterfalls.

After probably a tenth of a mile on the trail we reached our first opportunity to explore Cascade Brook. We took a detour off the actual trail to enjoy the geology of the granite slabs and the water which meandered along it. Since we arrived at very low water we decided to turn the granite into our own trail for a quarter mile and climbed up to Kinsman Falls. These falls are small but beautiful and drain into a pool that would be welcoming on a hot day.

We continued on the actual trail a little way before reaching another small cascade. It too drained into an inviting pool and since we did not share this portion with fellow hikers we relented and took a dip ourselves. We took our time here and laid out on the flat rocks as the sun started to make its way through the clouds and trees and I investigated the intricacies of the rock and flowing water. This was the most beautiful place of the hike that was not inundated with other nature lovers.

We eventually made our way back on Basin-Cascade Trail and up to Rocky Glen Falls. These were bigger than Kinsman falls and we got our best view from a short climb to the right of the trail. We also took in the view of this mini gorge at the base of the falls before climbing up some rocks to the left to reach the top. We found a little space to ourselves atop the upper portion of the falls where a small opening a little ways below the removed railroad bridge offered a small view across the valley and a ledge to sit upon and enjoy a snack.

A very short way back up the trail we found the intersection with Cascade Brook Trail and took a left on it to descend our climb. The trail itself was beautiful but much less eventful than the Basin-Cascade trail. The grade was favorable to a quick return hike despite the extra distance. We made a quick stop before crossing Whitehouse Brook where I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to climb up to a big comfortable branch.

Then we reached the Pemi Trail and followed the beautifully clear and slightly turquoise Pemigewasset River. From this intersection it was a flat mile back to return to the crowds and eventually our car.