Alternate Name: Isinglass Falls; Gonic Falls
Overall Rating: 4/5 star
Swim Rating: 5/5 stars
Hike Times, Distances and Difficulties will be explained below.
This double waterfall is the best in the area! Okay, in the area, it’s pretty much the only waterfall, but it’s still truly awesome and I’ll explain why. It’s not a waterfall that waterfall purist’s will likely run to, as it’s not much more than 20-30ft tall, however, all of us locals love it! With deep pools just below the falls, you’ll find it’s one of the best places to cool off in the summer and go swimming. Just next to the falls and further down stream are also rock formations that make for awesome spots to sit, relax and watch the waterfall. When there’s not an extremely heavy flow, there’s also a moderately easy climb to the top of the falls which you can take to walk across the falls. At the top, you can either sit and relax on the large boulder that sits in the middle of the falls or you can (carefully!!) slide down the falls into the pools below. It’s an all around great family place, a great place to relax, a great place to swim and just an overall favorite.
The waterfall itself is worth going to, but it’s also part of the Gonic Trails on the border of Barrington and Gonic, run by the Waste Management facility. The brochure for the trails can be found here. There are three different trails with differing amounts of difficulty. The blue and yellow trails will lead you straight to the falls, where as the red trail connects with the yellow trail, and can be followed back to the falls. The blue trail is an very easy loop and short loop. The yellow trail not only goes down to the falls, but keeps going, following along the Isinglass River and is about 1.3 miles long, one way. Unless you turn around on the trail somewhere, this is the only trail that doesn’t return to the main parking area. The red trail is one, we’ll say, to take if you’re adventurous. It starts out fine, but part of it you’ll be taking down a very steep hill with a narrow path. It’s another short loop, but it’s a little tedious.
As quite a few of the falls in New England, there’s a bit of history behind this one. In the 1800’s, a saw and grist mill owned by John Locke (the namesake of the falls) sat at the upper area just before the falls; fallen remnants sit there to this day. You should definitely print out the above brochure and take it with you along the blue trail. This particular trail is littered with markings which can be found in the brochure and tell of what the land and structures in the area used to be.
To find the Gonic Trails trailheads, take 125 into Barrington. Turn onto Rochester Neck Road, about a half mile up on the right will be the parking lot; park here and go have an adventure!
Have fun and be safe!