Location: Shelburne, NH Finding : Tricky to locate trail head. Access : Hiking required. Swimming: Not enough water. Legal : Public land. Privacy : Reasonable; off the main trail.
To get to Giant Falls you must hike up the Peabody Brook Trail. This trail starts from the North Road in Shelburne. I suggest that you consult the AMC White Mountain Guide for more information. I will say that you can't park right at the trail head. The trail starts at the end of a private drive only 100 feet (or less) from someone's home. They have placed "No Parking" signs around the area. Instead you have to park at a small, unmarked turn off just east of where the North Road crosses Leadmine Brook. Then you have to walk a short distance down the road to get to the trail head. This is all explained in Waterfalls of the White Mountains.
The trail crosses Peabody Brook shortly after leaving the North Road and then follows along a logging road for a while. Eventually it turns off the logging road and starts climbing steeply, slabbing along the side of a rather deep ravine with the brook at the bottom. After a fair amount of climbing a well marked side trail leaves to the left. That side trail more or less follows the contour lines into the ravine and then follows the stream for a short distance to the falls themselves.
Giant Falls is... well... giant! As you walk up the trail you find yourself in a large, almost bowl-like valley. At the head of the bowl, the stream flows down over a large rock face. I was able to climb up onto a rock opposite the main falls and sit gawking up at the impressive, water coated rock face. From that location I could barely see the top of the falls, perhaps 100 or more vertical feet above me.
After spending several minutes enjoying the spot, I then hiked back to the main trail and climbed farther up hoping to get to the top of the falls. The trail skirted the top of the bowl (from which there were some interesting views of the Presidential Range). Just as the trail turned sharply to the right, it came to the stream again. I bushwacked downstream a short distance to the top of the falls where I sat on a rock and admired the view.
It wasn't clear to me I was sitting at the same "top" I had seen from the bottom. I think I was, but it is possible that where I was sitting was not visible at all from the bottom. I think that, short of bushwacking up the steep side of the falls, it would be very difficult to really see all of this waterfall!
Nice falls. It's worth the trip if you don't mind a little hike.
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