The Basin

Franconia Notch State Park

White Mountains, New Hampshire

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The Basin


  • The trailhead to access the Basin.- The Basin
  • The paved path leading to the Basin.- The Basin
  • There is a viewing area that is wheelchair accessible.- The Basin
  • A bridge over the Pemi.- The Basin
  • A side channel in a narrow slot.- The Basin
  • The lookout area on the west side of the Basin.- The Basin
  • Looking up along the Old Man's Foot.- The Basin
  • The overhanging walls of the Basin are polished smooth by thousands of years of erosion.- The Basin
  • A side channel cuts a circuitous route through the granite.- The Basin
  • Gorgeous emerald pools can be found.- The Basin
  • An upper falls on the Pemi.- The Basin
  • Looking downstream in the direction of the Basin.- The Basin
  • The Basin as seen from the wheelchair overlook.- The Basin
  • People strolling along one of the side channels.- The Basin
Overview + Weather
Beautiful waterfall. Wheelchair accessible. Short walk.
Crowded. No swimming allowed.
White Mountains, NH
Pets allowed: 
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
Adventure Description

Adventure Description


The Basin is one of the most popular stops in Franconia Notch State Park, with several beautiful waterfalls, crystal clear water, and plenty of places to stop for a snack. Visitors will begin their visit to the iconic waterfall either from above or below, depending which direction you were traveling on I-93. Either way, be sure to explore the river above and below the Basin, as several small and unique cascades make this place shine.

Located along the upper reaches of the Pemigewasset River, the Basin is a large granite pothole between 20 and 30 feet in diameter. It is believed the initial pothole was formed by melting water from retreating glaciers at the end of the last ice age. In the thousands of years since, sand and small stones have scoured the sides of the pothole, expanding and polishing it to its current state. The depth of the pothole is estimated at 15 feet. 

Various trails to and around the Basin spiderweb their way along the banks of the Pemigewasset River, with a handful of picnic tables and informational placards along the way. The east side of the river is paralleled by the Franconia Notch Recreation Path, popular among bicyclists, and wheelchair accessible. The wheelchair overlook is well designed, with a low wall that doesn't obscure the bird's-eye view of the the Basin.

The west side of the river meanders through the woods over a crushed-gravel path, revealing several other small pools and cascades as well as access to some of the hiking trails like the Basin Cascade Trail and the Pemi Trail. From the river's west side visitors can reach a small overlook area perched along the edge of the pothole. It feels as if the bedrock is rising up to engulf you. Also visible is a ridge of rock below the pothole known as the Old Man's Foot.

Take note of which direction you came from; the recreation path extends a few miles in either direction from the Basin.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(13 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(59 within a 30 mile radius)

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