About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Waterfalls of Cheshire County

Catsbane Mill Falls

Photographing the Falling Water Season

The snow is fading fast and, as we wait for the buds to explode into their exuberant range of greens, we are thoroughly into falling water season.  Waterfalls are the main attraction this time of year.  With the snow run-off and spring rains, streams that are normally a mere trickle become roaring torrents.  What better time to share some of my favorite falls in my home territory of Cheshire County, New Hampshire.  I would not pretend to know all the waterfalls in the county.  Even after exploring the region for almost 35 years there are still locations about which I have only heard stories.  Last week I talked about one waterfall that I have sought for several years.  I'm still not certain that I have found Pulpit Falls in Winchester, NH, but I plan to go back soon to confirm the location.

Chesterfield Gorge Flow
Included here are several of my favorite waterfalls that are accessible to the public.  There are other falls on private land, but to visit these you would need to establish your own relationship with the owner.

Waterfall photography is not difficult.  All you need is good boots, and a sturdy tripod to hold your camera for the long exposures that turn chaotic boiling water into the soft, cotton candy appearance that is so popular.  Another essential is a number of clean lens cloths to keep the mist from fogging your lens.  As I discussed in a previous article, getting the right exposure for your taste is always a matter of experimentation.   So gear-up and let's go exploring.

1) Beaver Brook Falls, Keene
Beaver Brook Falls is located in a secluded spot about one half mile up a abandoned road which is a section of the old route that

Beaver Brook Falls
traveled from Keene to Concord.  The falls cascade over a rocky ledge and drops about ten feet into Beaver Brook.  The flow varies a good deal depending on the season and recent rainfall.  The falls can be photographed from the road or from along the brook, but the footing along the bank is slippery.
Directions: Take Washington Street north of Keene's Central Square.  Just before the road rises to merge with Route 9, take a right on the Old Concord Road and then a quick left on the Washington Street Extension.  This road ends shortly at metal gates.  From here the falls is about a half mile walk up the gently rising abandoned road.


2) Forty Foot Falls, Surry
This water fall, which is part of Merriam Brook in Surry, NH, is one of the least well known in the region, but can be quite

40 Foot Falls
spectacular. This anonymity is probably due to a number of factors including the fact that the falls is tucked away along a neglected unmarked dirt path and is partially accessed across a decaying bridge. Unfortunately, the actual falls are at the head of a deep, narrow ravine, bordered by shear rocky cliffs. It is nearly impossible to get a full view of the falls. Probably the best angle comes from above the falls, but I have also captured views from across the bridge looking up stream. I have always felt that the best part of
40 Foot Falls, Downstream
Forty Foot Falls is actually the other, more accessible, waterfalls and cascades that are below the tallest drop. This section is accessed with a short bushwhack from a turn out on the road just below the trail to the main falls.
Directions: Take Court Street north from Central Square in Keene.  At the second traffic circle bare right onto Route 12a.  After 4.3 miles take a left on Joslyn Road. The turn off to the lower portion of the falls is on the left about 1/2 mile up Joslyn Road.  


 3) Chesterfield Gorge, Chesterfield
The Chesterfield Gorge Natural Area includes 13 acres located in

Big Drop, Chesterfield Gorge
Chesterfield, New Hampshire off Route 9. The area features a .7 mile Wilderness Loop Trail which follows Wilde Brook through the Chesterfield Gorge. It is an easy/moderate hike along the edge to the bottom of gorge.  Along the way there are various points to observe the brook as it cuts through steep rock formations and over a series of waterfalls and cascades. The hike can be easily completed in under an hour, but you will want to linger to enjoy and photograph the beauty and drama of this majestic area.
Directions: The Gorge Natural Area is located on Route 9 west of Keene, NH.  It is about 5.6 miles west of the intersection of Routes 101 and 9 in Keene. Look for the sign on the right side of the road.  The area has a parking lot which accesses the trial.  In recent years Chesterfield Gorge has been supported and maintained by a dedicated group of private citizens in the Friends of Chesterfield Gorge.  

Wilde Brook Cascade


4) Ashuelot Falls, Keene
Ashuelot Falls
Ashuelot Heron
Ashuelot River Park is a lovely 157 acre oasis in the center of Keene, New Hampshire.  The park includes a mill dam waterfall dating back to 1775.  The mill pond to provided water power for the manufacturing of theday.  Now the pond  supports a diversified population of wildlife which is accessible from a number of well maintained trails. Just above the waterfall is a beautiful suspension foot bridge spanning the Ashuelot River.  The falls can be viewed from either side of the river and on the east side you can stop by Starbucks to get overpriced coffee before settling on a bench to watch the flow.
Directions:  Heading west from Keene’s Central Square along West Street the River Park is across from the Colony Mill. Just pull into the parking lot and, in the summer,  you can grab some ice cream from the truck stationed at the entrance.

River Park Bridge

5) Mt Wantastiquet Falls, Hinsdale

Wantastiquet Falls
Mt Wantastiquet sits on the Connecticut River between Chesterfield and Hinsdale, across the River from Brattleboro, Vermont.  The
1335 foot summit is accessed by a switchback trail which begins across the bridge from Brattleboro behind the former Walmart building at the end of Mountain Road.  At the beginning of the trail, just above the small parking lot, there is nice waterfall cascading down the long the corridor cut to provide electrical access to the summit.  The falls can be viewed from the trail, but a closer approach involves negotiation of a very steep and often wet path along the edge.  The waterfall varies in intensity depending on run-off and rainfall.  Naming it Wantastiquet Falls is totally my own invention.  You can call it whatever you like.


 6) Catsbane Brook, Chesterfield
Catsbane Cascade
The Catsbane Brook flows through West Chesterfield to the Connecticut River.  As the brook tumbles through the village it shoots through a number of nice cascades and over a couple of dramatic old mill falls.  Much of this activity is not apparent as you drive through the village and requires some exploration, owner permitting.  One nice cascade is easily seen from the Farr Road as it crosses the brook between the village and the flat section that leads to the  Connecticut.
Directions:  From Keene take a right on Brook Road which becomes River road in the village.  Just watch for the Bridge on the left as you head northwest from the village.

Catsbane Falls


Perkins Pond Falls, Troy
The view of Mt Monadnock from across Perkins Pond on Route 124 in Troy, New Hampshire is one of my favorites and perhaps the

Perkins Pond Falls
most famous perspectives on the mountain.  It is less know that Perkins Pond drains from its western end through a gorge that includes a series of cascades and over a lovely secluded waterfall.  The falls can be seen from the edge of he gorge, but approaching its base is difficult.  The brook bed must be reached from down stream and the scramble back up to the falls can be tricky, especially when the brook is running high.
Directions :  Take Route 124 south from Marlborough, New Hampshire.  Turn right on Monadnock Street just after passing across Perkins Pond and then left onto a dirt road in 0.2 miles.  This road ends quickly at a steel gate and just before a path to the left leads across a bridge and then along the stream to the falls.

This is a short list of only a few of my favorite local waterfalls.  I plan to take advantage of  this year’s falling water season to find some of the other cascades and falls in the region.  I hope to see you out there.

Jeffrey Newcomer


  1. Great images and a surprising collection of falls Jeff. You had a couple I've never heard of.

  2. Where is catsbane mill falls? I gotta see that with my own eyes

    1. Sadly it no longer exists. The dam has been by-passed.

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