A Guide to Glen Ellis Falls, NH

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Glen Ellis Falls is one of the most wonderful waterfalls in New Hampshire, and one of the gems of Pinkham Notch. Just a short hike from Route 16, Glen Ellis is a lovely detour to make when exploring the White Mountains.

Even so, Glen Ellis Falls isn’t one of the most famous waterfalls in New Hampshire. Plenty of people know about Sabbaday Falls on the Kancamagus Highway, or Avalanche Falls at the Flume Gorge, or Ripley Falls or Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch, but Glen Ellis? It feels a bit offbeat here, despite the beauty of the waterfall, like you’ve come across a hidden gem.

A beautiful winding trail leads you through the forest along the Ellis River, climbing down stone staircases until you reach panoramic views of the 64 foot waterfall itself.

Here’s everything you need to know about Glen Ellis waterfall so you can make the best use of your time!

A 64-foot waterfall surrounded by gray rock, falling into a green pool. It's next to a yellow-leaved tree underneath a blue sky.
Glen Ellis Falls on a gorgeous early October day.

Glen Ellis FAQ

How long is the hike to Glen Ellis Falls?

Glen Ellis Falls is 0.3 miles or about a 10-minute walk from the parking area, making it an easy stop.

How much does it cost to visit Glen Ellis Falls?

Glen Ellis Falls is free to visit, but you need a parking pass for the White Mountain National Forest, which costs $5 per day.

Is Glen Ellis Falls accessible?

There are quite a few stairs leading to Glen Ellis Falls, which unfortunately keeps it inaccessible to wheelchair users. We do not recommend bringing a stroller here.

Can you swim at Glen Ellis Falls?

No. While the jade-green pool is inviting to the eye, swimming is strictly forbidden here.

Are there restrooms at Glen Ellis Falls?

Yes! There is a toilet by the parking lot.

Early views along the Ellis River.

Hiking the Glen Ellis Falls Trail

Once parking in the lot on the west side of Route 16 — see more on that below — a hiking trail leads you beneath the highway and along the Ellis River. The sign at the beginning of the trail informs you that it’s an 0.3 mile hike to the falls, about a 10-minute walk for the average adult.

The trail is made of gravel and stone has a few stairs at the beginning before leading you along the river.

Expect more stairs in the further you go — though there’s ample room to take a breather when you’re tired.

A small waterfall surrounded by granite walls leading into a river.
Early in your walk you’ll see a tiny waterfall, but don’t worry, this isn’t it!
The granite pathway is in excellent condition. Best traversed under fall colors!
The stone steps and wooden handrails add to the timeless atmosphere.

Eventually you reach the base of the falls, with views of the waterfall plunging into the pool. This viewing area has a small platform for photographing the falls.

For serious photographers, we highly recommend bringing a wide-angle lens to capture the waterfall in its entirety. If not, the later versions of the iPhone do a great job with its wide-angle function. (All the full waterfall shots here were taken on an iPhone; most of the others were with our Sony A6400.)

If you’re lucky, you’ll get the waterfall to yourself. It helps to go on a weekday if you can.

From the base of the falls, there’s another stone staircase leading to a vantage point overlooking the waterfall from a higher angle. We prefer the bottom of the falls for the best photos, but you can enjoy both!

We couldn’t help but think that Glen Ellis Falls would make a spectacular wedding photo backdrop. The beautiful falls, stone steps, and surrounding forest are a photographer’s dream!

(Just keep in mind the lack of accessibility. Don’t bring your whole family down here — this might be a better option for just the wedding couple and photographer. Or better yet, do your engagement photos here!)

Even the parking area for Glen Ellis Falls has spectacular views.

How to Get to Glen Ellis Falls

Glen Ellis Falls is located in Pinkham Notch, along Route 16 in the White Mountains. The parking lot is on the west side of the road (southbound side), just south of the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

Keep an eye out for the parking lot sign — it’s on the small side, and we at New Hampshire Way have missed the turnoff before!

It’s a relatively small lot, and from here you follow the path underneath the highway to the falls, which are on the east side of the highway.

Glen Ellis Falls is about a 25-minute drive north of North Conway, a 10-minute drive north of Jackson, a 4-minute drive south of the entrance to the Mount Washington Auto Road, and a 15-minute drive south of Gorham.

The trail is open year-round and closes at 10:00 PM. If you visit in the winter, you may want to bring winter hiking equipment, including crampons. This path can easily get icy.

This is as good as New England fall foliage gets!

Fall Foliage in Pinkham Notch

The photos in this post were taken on October 9, 2022, which may have been THE most beautiful day for fall foliage in Pinkham Notch all year. As a rule, early October is optimal for beautiful foliage in the White Mountains, with residual color into mid-October.

Keep in mind that this can be very sensitive, and not all of the White Mountains has peak color at the same time.

We noticed on our early October trip that southern parts of the White Mountains like the Kancamagus Highway had beautiful but not quite peak foliage, while areas further north like Franconia and the Mount Washington Auto Road were at absolute peak, bursting into brilliant reds and oranges as far as the eye could see. If it’s too early, head north; if it’s too late, head south!

For more information, see our guide to New Hampshire fall foliage, with tips on when and where to see the best color.

A collection of small wooden buildings set against mountains topped with brilliant red and orange fall foliage.
The view from the Mt Washington Auto Road — just five minutes from the falls!

More Things to Do Near Glen Ellis Falls

What should you do before or after visiting Glen Ellis Falls? The Pinkham Notch area is a spectacular place, especially during foliage season.

We think Glen Ellis Falls pairs well with a drive up the Mount Washington Auto Road. It’s just a five-minute drive away and one of our favorite things to do in this part of the White Mountains!

Jackson is one of our favorite small towns in New Hampshire and home to another waterfall: Jackson Falls. While not as dramatic as Glen Ellis, these falls make a fabulous picnic spot. Don’t miss White Mountain Puzzles and the Honeymoon Covered Bridge!

If you’re interested in a moose safari, Gorham Moose Tours run the best moose tours in the state, departing from Gorham in the summer months.

If you have young kids, Story Land is an absolute must and located in Glen, right near Jackson. (Most of the New Hampshire Way team grew up going to Story Land ever summer!)

And if you’re visiting New Hampshire in the winter, Glen Ellis Falls is close to Wildcat Mountain, one of our favorite NH ski resorts (though it’s a better choice for more advanced skiers) and not much further from Attitash and Cranmore Mountain in North Conway. Jackson is New Hampshire’s best destination for cross-country skiing, and you can enjoy ice skating and sleigh rides at Nestlenook Farm.

More on the White Mountains:

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Have you been to Glen Ellis Falls? Share your tips!

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