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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer had 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 blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Pulpit Falls (Finally)

A Worthy Quest


Ok, one of the problems with New England photography is that even the most famous locations can be difficult to find.  To a degree
NOT the real Pulpit Falls
part of the fun of the search is the inevitability that I will miss the mark from time to time.  As they say, “If it was easy, everyone would do it”.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about my search for Pulpit Falls in Winchester, New Hampshire.  I had explored the woods off Route 10 on two occasions earlier this spring and struggled with vague descriptions and deep snow.  I came across a spot on Pauchaug Brook that
seemed to match most of the descriptions that I had found on the web, but I still had questions.  The falls seemed smaller than I expected and they were too close to the road.  Some explorers, like Kris of Wicked Dark Photography, described a deep gorge leading to the falls and that didn’t in any way match what I had found.  Thank goodness I titled my article “Finding Pulpit Falls, Possibly”, because, as I discovered last weekend, I wasn’t even close. In retrospect, my final conclusion in the article was appropriate, “… until I can get back to explore when the snow has cleared, all I can say is that I was sure I had found the right starting point and I may have found Pulpit Falls”.


Pulpit's First Drop

Since my last visit I had been haunted by the suspicion that Pulpit Falls lay deeper within the forest.  After a substantial rain last Saturday, I decided that it was a good time to take another stab at finding the falls. I parked in the same pull over on Route 10 and Nellie and I followed the short trail down to Pauchaug Brook.  The walking was much easier without the two feet of snow that faced us the first time.  All the descriptions describe following the brook upstream to the falls, but the problem is that the stream splits.  I had previously followed the left branch, which was by far the strongest, but I never found any major waterfalls.  This time I decided to follow the weaker channel which headed southwest into the center of the forest.  The bushwhacking was not difficult, but I became increasingly depressed as the brook faded to a trickle. 
Stacked Granite

“How could this possibly become a ragging cascade”.  I was close to giving up when I heard the distant sound of falling water.  An essential rule of waterfall questing is to follow the sound of the water.  Keeping the sound to my front I climbed over a small ridge and down into a lovely forest valley.  As the faint rush became a thunderous roar I finally discovered Pulpit Falls plummeting from the gentle valley floor into a steep gorge.  Some of the descriptions of Pulpit Falls talked about a unimpressive show, but, at least with the nice spring run-off, it was quite spectacular.

The falls descends in two drops.  The first is an unobstructed plummet alongside interesting layered rock formations.   I only
Pulpit Falls, Definitely!
noticed when I was examining the photographs that the broad granite slab at the top of the falls has a couple of notches which may have been chiseled to provide a base for a long absent bridge or mill.  Antique photographs might clarify this.  The falls descend into a lovely deep, clear pool that could serve as a summer swimming hole.  The second drop fans out across a gentler slope, creating a lovely silky display which contrasts with the more precipitous upper falls.  The entire falls is best seen from the bottom of the steep gorge, but I found lots of interesting angles from points along the side and at the top.  I had to take extra care as I negotiated around the tangled mesh of bushes and blow-downs and the damp rocks provided questionable security for my tripod.   I’ve learned painful
Slippery Perch
lessons in the past and kept my camera strap safely around my neck or wrapped around my arm throughout.  All-in-all Pulpit Falls was well worth the effort to find its cloistered location.  In my experience it is one of the most beautifully arranged waterfalls in my corner of New England.  It may fade a bit as the water diminishes through the summer, but with a good flow it is a classic.

A surprising turn happened when I began to explore the gentle cascades above the falls on Houghton Brook.  Nellie first notice someone setting up to shoot at the top of the falls.  It turned out to

be Kris of Wicked Dark Photography who had returned to take another pass at the falls.  As I mentioned earlier, It was Kris' blog and great photographs of Pulpit Falls that pushed me to take another try at finding the waterfall this spring. An amazing coincidence and a great demonstration of the small world of New England photography. Kris and I explored upstream on Pauchaug Brook and found other lovely cascades.  Definitely worth further exploration.  

Houghton Brook Meanders

Now that I have finally found Pulpit it is time to seek out other elusive waterfalls in my region.  Next on the list is Fay Falls in Walpole.  I have already be there once and found some lovely cascades.  Perhaps with two or three more visits I will actually find the waterfall!

Jeffrey Newcomer


  1. Fantastic! I will definitely link to this article from the one I wrote last year. I really like your compositions, too. Those other falls may elude us for a time, but we will get them eventually!

    1. Thanks Kris. Amazing coincidence meeting you at Pulpit Falls. Great time exploring Fox Forest today.

  2. What a great find! I will have to get down there and wander about. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Yesterday we took a little walk and found Pulpit Falls. I did not know that these falls existed until I heard about the proposal to run a gas pipeline nearby and then I started looking for directions to the falls on the web. It seems that more than one person has published a difficult route to find the "Elusive Pulpit Falls" when it is extremely easy to find them. Until today, I did not find this write up and only because my Chrome Book was acting up so I fired up my Mac Book Pro and lo and behold, a good write up with accurate directions and great pics, thank you Jeff. It took us all of ten minutes to walk to the falls from the pull-off parking area on Rt. 10 that most have mentioned on the web. We descended the Jeep road and as soon as we crossed the first brook that we came to, we turned left and followed it upstream like everyone else. Two minutes later, we saw a dry gulch on the right and followed it for another three minutes and heard the sound of the falls just ahead. The falls are running steadily with cold, clear water and there were several bathers present. It really is a very beautiful gorge and should not be disturbed with any kind of construction IMO. For all of you who haven't found it yet, there are now blue blazes on some of the trees marking the way.