It was the last of several foggy, gloomy days in the Whites, suited to a woods and waterfalls walk on the Cascades Path and Snows Mountain Trail in Waterville Valley. It was amazing that in mid-December, these trails were 100% free of snow and ice.
The Cascade Path starts with a steady climb beside and then across a steep residential road, then follows an old ski trail into the woods.
The approach to the Waterville Cascades is a pleasant woods walk. Along the way you pass this tree with a grip.
One of the few black-on-yellow WVAIA signs left on the trails.
The first of the seven or so cascades along Cascade Brook.
I believe this gaping hole next to the second cascade is the feature named "The Cave" in A.L. Goodrich's 1892 guidebook to the Waterville Valley.
There's a gorgeous pool below.
The plunge of the third cascade. Few trails in the Whites can match the continuous water scenery on the Cascade Path.
A pair of towering white pines form a gateway at the top of the third cascade.
The picturesque fifth cascade, which might be my favorite of the group.
The sixth and seventh cascades are at the upper end of the trail. The bridge on a service road/X-C ski trail can be seen in the background.
I followed that X-C trail (Upper Snows Mountain) for half mile to a short connector that led to the Snows Mountain hiking trail.
Mossy rocks line this lightly-used but generally well-blazed trail.
A giant of the mountainside.
Into the fog.
An interesting arrangement of moss and fungi.
Enjoyable ridge walking along the crest of Snows.
The guardian of Snows Mountain, standing tall and proud in a hardwood col.
A mossy corridor, rising out of the col.
The junction of the north and south loops, at 2780 ft.
Doin' the twist.
The side path to the upper outlook, which is located just inside the Sandwich Range Wilderness.
Approaching the outlook.
Nothing but gray air today.
I sat for a while on the slope behind the outlook, taking time to savor the silence of the fogbound forest.
The lower outlook is just a short distance down the south loop.
This is the more open of the two viewpoints, but no hope today.
An old tote road provides a long stretch of good walking as the trail descends along the flank of the mountain. The Waterville Cascades and Snows Mountain loop is about 6 miles with 1450 ft. of elevation gain.