Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By WENDY ALMEIDA Staff Writer
There is a short family-friendly hiking trail in the White Mountain National Forest that my family likes to visit whenever we are in the North Conway, N.H., area. The Moat Mountain Trail leads to Diana's Baths, a series of small cascading waterfalls and pools at Lucy Brook. The trail to the brook is about half a mile one way on fairly level terrain.
White Mountain National Forest’s Moat Mountain Trail leads to Diana’s Baths, a series of cascading waterfalls and pools.
Gaetana Almeida photo
In the summer, Diana’s Baths in Bartlett, N.H., is a favorite place for the Almeida kids to cool off and splash around.
Wendy Almeida photo
DIANA’S BATHS,BARTLETT, N.H.
LENGTH: About 1 mile round trip
TERRAIN: Packed gravel, fairly level terrain
TRAIL USE: Walking
FEE: $3 for White Mountains National Forest day pass; self-service station at trailhead
TRAILHEAD: From North Conway, N.H., take River Road to Westside Road. Westside Road splits but stay to the right so the turn for Cathedral Ledge is on the left. Stay on Westside Road for another half mile. Entrance to trail head is on the left. (GPS N 44° 04.478 | W 071° 09.823)
BATHROOM: Yes, at trailhead
DOG FRIENDLY: Yes
13-YEAR-OLD’S REVIEW: “I like walking around Diana’s Baths and looking at all the rocks and climbing them. I like getting close to the water to put my hands in it when it’s cold. But when it’s hot I like taking a dip in the pools.”
15-YEAR-OLD’S REVIEW: “I like the trail going out to Diana’s Baths because it’s a nice smooth, easy trail. I like taking pictures of the falls and climbing around the rocks to get different shots of the water.”
At this time of year the water is running fast and makes an impressive waterfall show. It is a great place to visit for your photography enthusiasts. During my family's recent visit, my husband and 15-year-old daughter were vying for time with our camera to take photos of the falls. There was a rock formation that spewed a wave unusually high in the air around one of the rocks. This site called to my family members as a great photographic opportunity. There was some debate about who would use the camera before a compromise was reached that included a cell phone as a second camera option.
My suggestion to avoid bickering is to encourage everyone who likes to take pictures to bring their own camera. Think of it as insurance for you to have a bit more quiet time to enjoy the beauty of the place.
Another essential to pack on this hike is bug repellent. This is a woodsy trail and a little bug protection will go a long way to keeping your hike pleasant.
We have visited Diana's Baths during the summer months when the cascades are slower. The pools underneath the much smaller falls are great for a dip. With the water pooling at different tiers, there are plenty of places to splash your feet around. My younger daughter can never resist going for a full body dip, bathing suit or not, in the deeper pool areas. The water is usually chilly, but my daughter assures us it feels oh-so-good on a hot summer day. But be aware that Diana's Baths is a popular destination during the warmer season, and you'll need to look around for a quiet spot.
There is a narrow trail that follows the shore to the top of the falls. The hilly terrain next to Lucy Brook is fairly easy to climb and at the top just beyond the falls there are more spots to sit and enjoy the water.
There are some remnants of an old gristmill just off the trail to explore as well. The mill used the hydropower of the brook to grind flour. Keep a close eye on the kids around the mill's remains as there is an old gear shaft and pipes that could cause injury if the kids start climbing around that area.
For fans of geocaching -- a game using a GPS unit and coordinates to find hidden "treasure" -- there are several boxes on this trail. We have found a handful on the way to, and around, Lucy Brook. You can do a latitude longitude search on geocaching.com using these coordinates to find several listings: N 44° 04.478 | W 071° 09.823.
Diana's Baths is a great hiking destination. Between the scenic picture taking options and swimming at the waterfalls, the trail offers up a great recipe for a fun day to explore the outdoors with your family.
Staff Writer Wendy Almeida can be contacted at 791-6334 or at:
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click image to enlarge
There are lots of interesting photo opportunities at the cascading falls. Climbing on and around the rocks offers new perspectives for young photography enthusiasts.
Gaetana Almeida photo