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.