|Forty Foot Falls Cascade, Surry, NH
I like to think that I know all the significant waterfalls around the Monadnock region, and so it is simultaneously exciting and annoying when I, for the first time, hear about a nearby display of falling water. The number of dramatic waterfalls within my corner of New Hampshire is remarkable. I have several articles about some of the most beautiful, as well as more general reviews of many others within Cheshire and Hillsborough Counties.
- Waterfalls of Cheshire County
- Chesterfield Gorge Album
- Waterfall Treasures of Hillsborough County
- Photographing the Magic of Velvet Water
As always, this is the prime waterfall season with snow melt and spring rains swelling even the most minor streams. I have been out shooting some of my favorites, but then friend and photographer Dan Most Facebook posted an image of Porcupine Falls. Porcupine Falls?? Why had I never heard of that spot?
After I got over the annoyance, I became excited that there are still new falls to explore. A quick Google search gave me all the information I needed. I discovered that Porcupine Falls is a feature of the Calhoun Family Forest in Gilsum New Hampshire.
Calhoun Family Forest
The 355 acre forest preserve had been managed for half a century by John and Rosemarie Calhoun and, to protect this important resource, the Calhoun family has donated the land to the Monadnock Conservancy. The forest is located at the end of White Brook Road which exits Route 10 near the big stone arch bridge across the Ashuelot River in Gilsum.
From a small parking area, the White Brook Trail follows the brook to Porcupine Falls. It is an easy 0.4 mile stroll. The trail is nicely maintained with sturdy bridges, walk-ways and a lovely set of stone steps.
Chute and Cascades
The falls is most notable for a chute of water that blasts from an elevated rock formation. The chute was interesting, but I found it difficult to capture a dramatic composition. To me, the many cascades, below the falls, were more interesting, especially given the strong seasonal flow. I suspect that during the dry seasons these rivulets are less impressive, but I spent much of my time trying to find angles which incorporated both the main chute and some of these vigorous cascades.
It is great to discover a dramatic waterfall, but what I enjoy most is the “working of the location” to find as many visual angles as possible.
The Swimming Hole?
One of the best of these didn’t include the surging chute, but was from below the bridge which spans the brook, just below the falls. This was also the most perilous location, as I worked my way into the middle of the stream to get a clear view of the bridge from across what I suspect, in the summer, will be a lovely swimming hole. Slow careful movements are always important when negotiating the slippery rocks around waterfalls and streams. This is particularly important when you are alone. I was at the end of a lonely trail, in the fading light. An incapacitating injury, including a crushed cell phone, could have led to a long cold night.
I slid my way to a rock that was far too tiny for my substantial butt. Keeping myself dry was only a minor consideration. My primary goal was to avoid dunking my camera and cable release. Painful experience has taught me that I can dry my body without long term damage, but my gear is another, expensive, story. I got some great shots and then the more challenging task was to make it back to the shore.
It was a lovely and fruitful little hike up the White Brook to Porcupine Falls. I will be back often. It might be worth a trip with my up-coming Spring Waterfall Workshop. Thanks for the tip Dan. I forgive you for finding it first.