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Ammonoosuc River, Covered Bridge, and Waterfall
Ammonoosuc River, Bath Covered Bridge, Waterfall
Ammonoosuc Recreational Trail - Eastern Bath to Bath Center
NH - Central West
River, covered bridge, waterfall, cascades
Mostly sunny, 40 degrees
This hike takes you along the Ammonoosuc River to a wide set of waterfalls beneath Bath Covered Bridge. It follows a rail trail that is used by snowmobiles in winter and ATV's in the summer. The usage, both by vehicles and people, has always seemed to be very light when I've been on trail.
From the parking lot, climb up the embankment to the rail trail, then turn left to cross over the bridge spanning the Ammonoosuc River.
Walk for 2.0 miles on the Ammonoosuc Recreational Trail which will bring you to the Bath Covered Bridge and the waterfalls on the far side of the bridge. This is an easy trail to follow with no junctions to get you lost.
After enjoying the scenery, retrace your steps for 2.0 miles by heading upstream on the trail.
Eastern parking area
Bath Covered Bridge and Waterfall
Eastern parking area
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This trail is an old railroad bed that's now used as a snowmobile and ATV trail. The trail is wide and level the whole way. There were a few places that had crushed stone on the trail but otherwise the trail was nice and smooth.
The route immediately crosses the Ammonoosuc River on a steel bridge with a nice wooden walking surface. Although it's December, there is no snow at all and recent rains and snowmelt have the river running strong. The bare trees allow the river to be visible for almost the entire route.
After only about 0.2 mile, I heard, and then saw a 15-foot high series of cascades crashing down into a wet area on the trail's right. The river is on the left-hand side and was gurgling alongside the trail for a while. Then a long cornfield comes into view in between the trail and the river and at some points, due to the width of the field, the river is just barely visible. Up until the end of the cornfield, woods are on the right-hand side of the trail. Then the cornfield ends, the river is again hugging the trail, and there is a big house and yard on the right-hand side of the trail. At this point, you are more than halfway to the covered bridge.
Shortly after the house, there is a road visible on the right-hand side of the trail that pretty much stays close to and a bit above the trail for the rest of the way. No worries about "traffic" though...not a single car passed along the road while I was walking.
The next landmark to come into view is the river splitting around a quarter-mile long island. Big trees are in the middle of the island and the perimeter is fringed by shrubs that glowed an orangey color in the sun.
The "shrubs" are Japanese knotweed (
) which is technically a plant, not a shrub. It's an invasive species often found along riverbanks as well as non-wet areas. It's a perennial which grows up to 9 feet tall, usually in clumps. Its winter form consists of reddish stalks with thin, withered rust-colored protrusions sticking out where the flowers used to be. These rust-colored extensions look slightly zigzagged, are a bit more than an inch long, and protrude from the top parts of the stalks in a way that reminds me of tamarack needles spiraling out of their branches. In summer the plant has large leaves and clusters of tiny, greenish white flowers.
When the covered bridge came into view, there was a mucky/flooded area on the trail but I was able to skirt around it no problem. After that were a few houses... including one with a train in its yard!
And then before you know it, you're beneath the long covered bridge. There are paths leading up to the bridge if you wish to check it out from a different viewpoint. But continuing on the trail, beyond the bridge will give you a nice perspective on the waterfall. The waterfall has lots of angles to it and falls around and onto jagged ledges...a mesmerizing sight.
After having a snack while viewing the falls, I returned via the same route.
The only negative about the route was that the sun was in my eyes for the entire walk to the bridge; on the return trip, it was thankfully at my back. So in the winter months, it'd be best to start this walk sometime in the morning, rather than the early afternoon like I did.
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Please check the links below to get the latest status, closures, and alerts regarding forest roads, trails, and campgrounds.
White Mountain National Forest
Green Mountain National Forest
There are two trailheads.
This is the trailhead I started at for this particular hike.
It is located on Rt. 302 in Bath.
Heading west, it is 0.4 mile after H.G. Wood's entry road. H.G. Wood is on the left-hand side of the road; the trailhead parking area is on the right-hand side of the road. It is at the spot where one can see a steel bridge crossing the river.
Heading east, the parking area is 2.0 miles from Bath's center and is on the left.
The parking area is a sort of U-shaped drive (and unsigned). Be careful not to block other cars and not to block the access area to the trail.
Climb the cleared area of the embankment to get up to the trail, then turn left to cross the steel bridge.
This parking area is not plowed in the winter. For winter access, use the parking area below.
Bath Center Trailhead:
This parking area is near the covered bridge in Bath's center.
From Rt. 302, enter the downtown area and cross the readily visible covered bridge; it spans the Ammonoosuc River that runs behind the downtown buildings.
On the far side of the bridge is a small parking area on the right, just past a minor road that goes off to the right.
After parking the car, walk down to the bridge and turn right to go up a road that starts immediately before the bridge.
Partway up the hill, there will be an access path to the left. Turn left and then sort of make a U-turn and descend the trail to the river
You are now on the snowmobile trail. Turn left to follow the route for this hike.
More Ammonoosuc River Trail Reports
Ammonoosuc River via Ammonoosuc Recreational Trail - Western Bath to Bath Center on 12/15/2006
Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England
teaches us how to read a landscape the way we might solve a mystery. Beautiful illustrations.
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