You’d think that since I’ve been living in New Hampshire for 11 years now that I’d know about all there is to do in the area, but no, I was surprised to see a post on Meg’s Outdoors Indoors blog about a hike to a waterfall that I did not know about in the nearby town of Milford.
When we want to go on a hike we usually have to go to the White Mountain area of Northern New Hampshire, which is about 2 to 3 hours away, or we can head to the South Western area of the state to the Mount Monadnock area, which is about an hour or so way. There’s plenty of local parks around, but I had thought there wasn’t much in the way of hiking nearby. So I was happy to find out about this hike in Milford, which is only about 20 minutes or so away.
There’s a big difference in pre-child hiking and post-child hiking. Pre-child we would just pack some food, some water, and go. Now we have to really make sure we pack a lot of extra water and food before we go. We also have to try to do some research on the hike before we get there. If the hiking guides say the trail is at all strenuous we’re probably not going to do it. If it’s too long, I know that I’m going to end up carrying a very heavy 4 year old on the way back, and maybe even on the way to whatever the trail is leading to. No matter how easy they might be, long hikes are out too. A two mile hike means that I know that I’ll be carrying him for at least a mile if not more. The older Mr. C gets though, the easier it is getting to go hiking with him. If he knows at the start of the trail that we’re going to a specific destination, like a waterfall, or a hilltop view, he gets excited to see it and will rush to get there. I do have to try to get him excited about it though. “There’s a waterfall, a waterfall, a WATERFALL!!!!” I say.
After getting him sufficiently excited, Ms. J and I packed a big bag with a pile of food, water, making sure Mr. C went to the bathroom before we left, and off we went.
This hike starts out fairly easy, with a wide trail, rising gradually though clear of any rocks or tree roots. I found some additional info online about the hike which said that the waterfall was 1/2 mile from the parking lot. It didn’t seem that far at all since before we knew it, we were at the falls. There are three falls on the trail, this is the “Lower” falls.
The trail continues on with a steeper grade after the lower falls. It was a very humid day, so we were happy to get near the cooler misty water from the falls.
Once we start into the section of the trail after the lower falls, the trail begins to get a bit harder to navigate, with tree roots searching for any available dirt amongst all the granite boulders.
Check out this tree below. Looks like it started growing on about two inches of soil on top of this huge granite boulder and then had to send roots down the side of the boulder searching for more soil. It eventually toppled over from the lack of support from the shallow roots, though it does look like its still alive.
We like to try to find evidence of old farms when we go hiking, and it’s usually fairly easy to find something. In between the trees below there is an old stone wall. Farmers would collect the stones when they were clearing an area for their farm and pile them up on the borders of their fields or to use as pens for their livestock. How they colonial New Englanders were able to raise much of anything in this rocky soil is incredible. It’s called “The Granite State” after all. I always end up wondering who had a farm here, what did they raise, was it a dairy farm or did they actually try to grow something in this rocky soil. And what happened to them, did they go out west to start a new farm, or move to the city to work in a mill? And why is it called Purgatory Falls anyway ?
We only made it to the Lower falls, there are two additional falls as well. We’ll have to go back again.
On this hot and humid day, we were happy to cool off in the water once we saw a large enough flat area to where we could sit with our feet in the water. The large somewhat overexposed feet on the right are mine, the ones on the left are Mr. C’s. I couldn’t get Ms. J’s feet in the same frame! That’s another hiker in the upper right corner, guess I should have cropped this one better, oh well. This is what happens when you take pictures with an Iphone , trying not to drop it in the water, while a 4 year old is trying to splash you with his feet.
I’m guessing we made it about a mile, which is pretty good for us now. As soon as the shoes were back on Mr. C said “Carry me Dada!”, and back down the trail we went with me carefully stepping over those huge tree roots while carrying a 40+ pound 4 year old on on arm.