Overall Rating: 4/5
Swim Rating: unsure at this time; other sources say swimming is possible but there is an odd odor that comes from the water.
Hike Time: from parking lot: about 5 mins (there are other paths, which will be added if we visit again in the future)
Hike Difficulty: Easy
Hike Distance: .5 mi
(photos courtesy of Jim Blackwood, otherwise known as my dad)
Just 8.1 miles from Newfound Lake in Bristol, NH, on a tributary of the Pemigewasset River called Smith River, sits Profile Falls. This is a large block type waterfall which leads from a singular cascade at the top into five mini breaks. The park in which the falls sits is equipped with picnic tables, grills and a few different paths to the falls and is part of a park run by US Army Corp of Engineers.
There’s a parking lot here that holds about 10-12 cars with public restrooms across the street (although, these seem like they’re only set up during the summer as when we visited in October, nothing was sitting on the concrete slab that was near the restrooms sign). Just after the bridge on the road is another parking lot that has parking for 4-5 cars. This is a pretty nice set up for a fun summer visit! It’s absolutely lovely during the fall foliage, as well.
The signs around the parking area direct you to a trail with signs along the way labelled as ‘Profile Falls’, which sounds pretty easy, right? Well, not to say that it isn’t, but the trail that you’re initial led on is VERY steep and it’s a little daunting to actually take this trail. I’m pretty sure both my dad and I didn’t even make it to walking down this trail; we sat and slid. (Good times!, she said sarcastically.)
If you take the trail from the parking area, you can walk along the river edge straight to the falls. However, when we visited, there were some questionable orange arrows and a sign that said ‘stay away from ledge; very steep/very dangerous’ (or something along those lines) on the original trail. We assumed that the orange arrows would lead to an easier & safe path, but we were unable to find any further signs on the supposed trail, so we went back to the original trail, disobeying the signs. I wouldn’t recommend this method as, like I said before, it’s steep and not fun to slide down. If you go across the bridge, there’s another picnic area and beyond that is a snowmobile trail which you can take for easier access to the falls. We haven’t taken this path yet, but per other sources it sounds easy; we’ll find out next time.
As far as swimming goes, it is possible as there is a large pool below the falls but per other sources, there is said to be a strange odor coming from the water. I mean, it is a little hard to tell in October when you don’t have a wet suit or feel like getting hypothermia, so I can’t really speak from experience. In other words, swim at your own judgement and risk.
To find this waterfall, head North or South on 3A in Bristol and turn onto Mt. Hill Rd. Head down Mt. Hill Rd and you’ll be there in no time!
Have fun and be safe!