Strolling through Rhododendron State Park in July is relaxing and rejuvenating, especially on a foggy, misty, morning. Flat, easy walking trails wind through the 16 acre forest/grove taking you on a journey of discovery. Rhododendron means Rose Tree, and these flowering trees are named Rhododendron Maximum, which means Giant Rhododendron. These wild Rhododendrons that grow in the shady moist environment belong to the Heath Family, which also includes Mountain Laurel and Blueberries. This grove dates back to 1788. It was gifted to the Appalachian Mountain Club in 1903 by Miss Mary Lee Ware. She wanted it to remain preserved since it is a unique environment in New England and the stipulation was to keep it open to the public so others may marvel at its splendor.
Grove Entrance in the morning misty fog.
The park is in Fitzwilliam, NH, on Rhododendron Rd of course. Parking is simple and the trails can easily be accessed by all. To see the Rhododendrons in bloom, the time to visit is in mid July. To see the Mountain Laurel, a similar shrub which also blooms at this park, you would want to visit in June. The full bloom schedule depends on the weather throughout the spring and summer. Best to check the bloom updates, which can be found on the park website: click here for Rhododendron State Park website
A Rhododendron in mid bloom.
There is a Laurel Trail among the loop and also a Wildflower Trail that loops from the grove back to the parking lot. Make sure to read the signs. You could find yourself hiking upward to Mt Monadnock.
Rhododendron trees full of blooms
There were more blooms in the areas with the most sun and the leaves are little sunburnt as well.
Bridges cross over small brooks that run through the area.
A Rhodo in full bloom.
The shrubs are very tall and arch over the trails so you can walk under their branches as they create tunnels.
Don’t wait for a sunny day to visit the park. Rainy days are tranquil and you never know when the sun will shine through.
Sunrays lighting the fog along the path.
A perfect Rhododendron Maximum.
I think visiting this park anytime of year would be a treat. I am sure the first snowfall could be very picturesque.
It was cloudy with a chance of rain, perfect weather for photographing waterfalls. It had been a dry winter and we didn’t receive much rain for the spring, so I knew water levels would be low, but we still like to explore brooks and find waterfalls. Jackman Falls, on Jackman Brook was next on our list, so we gathered the gear and packed the food. There isn’t a trail, so most likely no one else would be there. We took two of our dogs with us on the chance they could be off leash and not get tangled. Jackman Brook is in Woodstock, NH. It flows down from one of the ravines between Mt Blue and Mt Cushman. It crosses under Rte 118, flows out into the woods and then loops back to 118 and parallels it as it travels east and flows into Moosilauke Brook at the Lost River Rd connection. We parked on the side of Rte 118 near where the brook rejoins it and walked straight into the woods to start our trek. Our first view of the brook was a picturesque flat sandy pool that looked like a great swimming area. A rope crossed over the brook, we don’t know what it was for, maybe kayakers or a rope to hold onto while crossing above the slide.
We remained on the left (North) side of the brook and proceeded to bushwack downstream. Shortly we came to our first cascade.
We scrambled through lots of Moose Maple, up and down small hills, and had to watch our footing as the ground was loaded with moss and leaf covered holes that would swallow a leg. This is normal for areas that don’t see many visitors. One of our dogs is three legged, so we had to pay extra attention to where he would follow us. The next waterfall we came upon is a uniquely shaped boulder in the center of the brook that had water cascading on three sides. We named it Jackman’s Cap since we thought it resembled a baseball cap.
From here the terrain steepened as it descended to the brook. We had to assist our dog since he is missing his right hind leg, this put him off balance. Soon, looking down we could see a mini gorge. Two very large boulders were tossed haphazardly and awkwardly positioned in this gorge, probably relocated from the rapid high water years back, looking up to the right, you can see some debris sticking out that was left behind which shows how high the water flowed at one point. The brook flowed under these boulders and gushed between the granite walls flanking both sides.
More bushwhacking brings us to another cascade which still isn’t Jackman Falls.
A few more leg traps later, we came upon on a wide open area that is a wide ledge. This must be Jackman Falls. Over the years the brook has split and become separated creating 2 different falls and then merging together again flowing over one last granite ledge. The water fans out over rocks on one side of the brook and a narrow flume on the other side. A nice flat median covered in ferns sits between. I think this would be an impressive series of falls during high water after spring snow melt. Below is a pano image of the open area.
The Flume section of Jackman Falls (2 views above)
The Fan section of Jackman Falls (above)
The last ledge section wasn’t a photographic one. Steep on both sides and a large boulder blocks the front of the falls so I took a photo from above just to show it. (below)
This was where we ended our day, just in time too since it started to rain. We bushwhacked back to the road and walked up hill back to our car. Our 3 legged dog, Drewfie, by now was very tired, and did not appreciate the trek back up. That one leg gets a workout. It was a good day for all of us, even though we were now soaking wet. I am sure this brook would be a sight to see with more rainfall.
I come across many stories and blogs when I Google a subject, especially if that subject is a place I want to explore, like a mountain, a brook, or a pond. While reading these blogs, I think how nice it is that these people take the time to write about their trip and openly share it with strangers, in a manner such that other adventure seekers might want to go have the same experience. On the flip side, some might be terrified and therefore are relieved that they were able to live the experience through someone else’s eyes in the safety of their favorite chair. My point is, it makes me think ‘I would like to do that’. My husband and I often spend our days exploring places, ones that are crowded like 4K footer peaks and some that are deep in the woods where there isn’t a path. We pick a place that sounds good, according to the weather. In the middle of the day we may change our minds as we are sliding down a slope or stepping on a yellow jacket’s nest. In the end, with our aching knees, and burning bee stings we both agree it was a good day.
Truth be told, it is my camera that instigates these treks. Although I am a curious sole, it is my camera that opened my eyes and instilled a desire to capture moments and places of this planet we will live on. This is the reason I take photographs, this is the reason I bushwhack deep into the woods and how my blog came to be. I invite you, and welcome you to see where our camera takes the Sherpa, my husband, who carries my tripod, and me, the Klutz, to new places.
Bushwhacking to Ellen’s Falls on Hobbs Brook in Albany, NH. This is on the Kancamagus Hwy between the Blackberry Crossing Campground and Moat View Dr. Parking is limited, but there is some space on the opposite side of the road. It is misting and should be most of the day, which is great weather for photographing waterfalls. The rocks have more colors when wet and the light is better for silky water. The Sherpa is a good sport, he never complains about getting soaked. We scurry up the hill to the left side of the brook and enter the forest. The trees are spread out making it easy to walk and the woods are peaceful due to the wet ground and no wind. A little ways in we see a nice little cascade fanning over a rock that looks like a big clamshell. We note to stop for that on the way back.
Since we don’t know which side of the falls will yield a better picturesque view, we look for places that are easy to cross the brook in case we need to switch sides. The brook was flowing well that day, so there weren’t many places to cross. At one point my husband decided he would cross, it required jumping from rock to rock and it was slippery, since I am carrying the cameras, I opted to remain where I was, did I mention I am a klutz? I took a video of him crossing but by the time it recorded, he was already passed the tricky part and he didn’t get wet.
An hour in, we came to the falls. Mind you we were on opposite sides of the brook, and of course his side had the better view. How does the chicken cross the brook? We are now yelling to each other as the water was loudly roaring. I point to above the falls, like Babe Ruth points to a home run, showing him I am going to look for a place to cross up ahead. Just above the falls it is a different world, peaceful and open, like someone raked it. It resembles a camping area of sorts. Lots of flat ground, a fire pit, trails veering in different directions, and luckily a very shallow area of the brook easy to cross.
We strolled around the area a bit and found the logging road which ends at the camping area. This road can be taken from the Kancamagus Hwy, but it does not run beside the brook. For those of you who prefer a trail instead of getting scratched in the eye by bushes, take the logging road, go across the brook and it is a short walk down to see the falls. However to see clamshell rock, you will have to bushwhack from the Kanc.
After crossing the river to the Sherpa’s side, I walked down to see the rest of the falls. The left side allows you to see into the gorge of Ellen’s Flume.
There wasn’t much else to see so we headed down. After capturing Clamshell Rock, we headed out the same way we came in. As we crested the hill overlooking the Kanc, we were treated to a beautiful sight. The vibrant, autumn foliage was being kissed by the floating waves of fog.
If you have any questions, send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org or you can message me through FB, Twitter or Instagram. I would also like to hear about your trek to Ellen’s Falls, so let me know.