New England Waterfalls


Glastonbury, Connecticut

RATING: 2.0 / 5.0 stars (Good) Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Connecticut
COUNTY: Hartford
TOWN: Glastonbury
PARK: Cotton Hollow Preserve
PRIVATE PROPERTY: No (although there are major visit limitations for non-town residents)
TYPE: Cascades
HEIGHT: Upper falls are 8 feet; lower falls is two drops of 4 feet each
WATER SOURCE: Roaring Brook
TRAIL LENGTH: To upper falls, less than 0.1 mile; to lower falls, 0.3 mile one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy side of moderate to both falls
HIKING TIME: 15 minutes one-way to both falls
ALTITUDE GAIN: To upper falls, down 30 feet; to lower falls, down 60 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: April to November (see notes on non-town resident visit limitations)
SWIMMING: Upper Falls: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
Lower Falls: Great (but restricted to town-residents only)
DELORME ATLAS: 2007: Page 44, L-10 (the falls are not marked on the CT atlas)
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2016)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 41.664500, -72.584167
GPS-WATERFALL: Upper Falls, 41.664000, -72.583833;
Lower Falls, 41.661333, -72.589500
COMPASS: Upper Falls: 275° excluding declination (the falls face west)
Lower Falls: 250° excluding declination (the falls face west)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: No, the falls are not currently included in the guidebook
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You hate to admit it, but it makes full sense why only Glastonbury-residents are allowed to enjoy the swimming holes here. Whenever swimming holes are close to major cities (like Glastonbury is to Hartford), there is a huge risk of both overcrowding, graffiti, and trashing. Sometimes towns have no choice but to resort to tight restrictions on enjoying their beloved natural attractions. It's a bit of a bummer for the rest of us, but it is also a reminder of how important it is for all of us to treat all swimming holes with the utmost respect.

There are several waterfalls here, and out-of-town visitors seem welcome to visit from mid-April to mid-June (so long as you don't swim in them). I visited all of the falls in the middle of the winter of 2016/2017, and there was nobody there. My guess is that non-residents are probably also OK to visit from the late fall through mid-April as well.

In terms of specifics, there's an 8-foot upper falls and a middle and lower falls, each about 4-feet tall. The lowermost falls are created by gigantic boulders in the brook. The middle falls pass through a long and narrow channel. The upper falls are a semi-steep cascade that passes by the remnants of an old stone dam. One side of the upper falls has a long waterslide (unrunnable by humans, unfortunately). Swimming is great at the middle and lower falls, but is not possible at the upper falls.


Look for the trail that begins at the west end of the lower-elevation parking area, just to the right of the fence that surrounds the community swimming pool. Follow this blue-and-white blazed trail downstream for 200 feet, at which point you can turn left and head 350 feet upstream on one of several rough paths to the upper falls, and/or you can turn right and head 0.3 mile downstream to the two sets of falls that comprise the lower falls. The two falls of the lower falls are separated by about 100 feet of brook.

The upper falls are right behind the community swimming pool, but you have to hike to see them well.


From Hartford, take CT 2 east to exit 10. Drive south on CT 83 (Manchester Rd) for 0.2 mile and turn right onto the New London Turnpike. Follow the New London Turnpike northwest for 0.5 mile and take a left onto Chestnut Hill Rd. Follow Chestnut Hill Rd west for 0.75 mile and turn left onto Hopewell Rd. Follow Hopewell Rd southwest for 1.6 miles and several parking areas for the Cotton Hollow Preserve and the community pool will be on your left.



If you know of any updates to this waterfall, or notice any errors either on this website and/or within the New England Waterfalls guidebook, please send me an email at or leave a Facebook comment at the bottom of this page. Updates to all of the waterfalls in the latest edition of the guidebook can always be found here: book updates


None noted.


Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut
the lowermost falls and pool at Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut

Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut
looking at the huge pool between the two lower falls at Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut

Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut
looking at the huge pool between the two lower falls at Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut

Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut
the lowermost falls and pool at Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut

Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut
the upper falls at Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut

Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut
the upper falls at Cotton Hollow Cascades, Connecticut


The 3rd edition of the New England Waterfalls guidebook contains 552-pages of detailed information on hundreds of waterfalls throughout all corners of New England. This 3rd edition has been completely updated and it is the first to be printed in FULL COLOR! Click on the image below to explore some sample pages of the guidebook on

New England Waterfalls guidebook

Over 20,000 copies sold!

also available on...


Here are some tips to help ensure that your trip to New England's waterfalls and swimming holes will be a safe and enjoyable one:
  • DON'T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS - When you visit waterfalls, you should consider bringing all of the following: (a) bug spray; (b) food/snacks; (c) water/sports drinks; (d) camera/smart-phone; (e) guidebook/trail map; (f) daypack/backpack; and (g) hiking shoes, hiking boots or watershoes. A full day hiking packing list can be found here.
  • CONSIDER BUYING WATER SHOES - You won't see too many people using them, but watershoes are fantastic pieces of equipment that can make your trip to waterfalls and swimming holes safer and more enjoyable. Merrill and Keen make some fantastic watershoes (here are some great ones from Merrill: womens / mens).
  • LEAVE NO TRACE - When you visit waterfalls and swimming holes, you'll often see some trash and sometimes you'll even find clothing left behind by others. It's really, really sad, and it irks the heck out of us. Won't you consider carrying out some of trash and clothing left by others when you leave? That would leave the spot more beautiful for the next person. Bring a trash bag and be a hero!
  • PRIVATE PROPERTY - Many waterfalls and swimming holes are located on private property and so we are truly fortunate that many landowners allow us to enjoy them. If you want to ensure that they stay open to the public, please do your best to leave no trace. If you see a sign that says 'Private Property', turn around and find another waterfall to visit or a different place to swim.
  • BRING A DSLR CAMERA AND TRIPOD WITH YOU - If you want to take high-quality photographs of waterfalls, your smart-phone just won't cut it. Get a DSLR camera, a tripod, and learn to master the art of waterfall photography.
  • SCOUT FIRST, SWIM SECOND - Never enter a swimming hole without first scouting it, even if you see somebody else swimming in it. Stop and access the risks based upon the depth of water, the power of the current, evidence of slippery rocks, and other safety factors.
  • CLIFF JUMPING - Cliff jumping is dangerous. Like, seriously dangerous. Understand the risks before you partake in this activity. Many have died from doing this in New England. Here is a list of all known deaths at waterfalls and swimming holes in New England.
  • PLEASE DON'T BUILD ROCK CAIRNS - Please do not build new rock cairns at waterfalls or swimming holes. Cairns are a strong reminder of human presence, and don't we all want to see waterfalls in their natural state and glory? Photographers get particularly annoyed at seeing cairns, so please resist the urge to build them.
  • DON'T RELY ON YOUR GPS TO GET YOU TO THE TRAILHEAD - Waterfalls don't have addresses, so relying on your GPS to get you to a trailhead is great way to get yourself lost. You need a guidebook, a road atlas, and/or a hiking map to visit the vast majority of waterfalls in New England. Also keep in mind that waterfalls are often located in wild areas, where smart-phone map apps and car GPS units may not work at all.
  • WATERFALLS IN SPRING - The best time to visit waterfalls is generally in the spring during the annual snowmelt (which is April to June). However, most waterfalls will often look great for several days after a significant rain storm.
  • HELP KEEP THE ULTRA-SECRET SWIMMING HOLES A SECRET (FOREVER) - If you find some ultra-secret swimming holes, please do your best to keep them a secret. Do not post their locations online or wildly share directions or photos with others. All of the swimming holes that are included in the guidebook and online through this website are the well-known swimming spots. There are many more holes that are much further off the beaten path, but they deserve a chance to stay wild and pristine.
  • DON'T SCRAMBLE UP WATERFALLS - So many people been seriously injured and killed in the waterfalls of New England. Many of these folks got too close to a waterfall and slipped and fell. Don't become a statistic: stay far back from the edge.
  • WEAR TRACTION IF YOU VISIT WATERFALLS IN WINTER - Visiting waterfalls in winter can be rewarding, but there is often a higher element of danger. You may need crampons, snowshoes, and/or some other form of traction (like Microspikes) in order to safely hike to waterfalls in winter.
  • SUPPORT NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS THAT CONSERVE WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES - There are some organizations in New England that work diligently to conserve and maintain waterfalls and swimming holes. Please consider supporting these organizations, either with their trail maintenance projects or with monetary donations. Here are three excellent organizations engaged in this extremely important mission: the Trustees of Reservations, the Vermont River Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy.


Here are some helpful links to help you explore and enjoy more waterfalls and hikes throughout New England:
  • Waterfalls of Connecticut = link
  • Waterfalls of Maine = link
  • Waterfalls of Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls of New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls of Rhode Island = link
  • Waterfalls of Vermont = link
  • Best Waterfalls in New England = link
  • Best Swimming Holes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Family-Friendly Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Waterfalls Near Boston, Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls Near Lincoln, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near North Conway, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near Stowe, Vermont = link
  • Waterfall Photography Tips = link


In addition to the New England Waterfalls guidebook, there are several other guidebooks that can help you find waterfalls and swimming holes:
  • Vermont Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Hiking Waterfalls in New England: A Guide to the Region's Best Waterfall Hikes (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Waterfalls of the White Mountains: 30 Hikes to 100 Waterfalls (2nd Edition: 1999) = link
  • Connecticut Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2014) = link
  • Rodrick's Guide to Vermont Waterfalls, Cascades & Gorges (1st Edition: 2014) = link


Join the growing communities of waterfall aficionados on Facebook! You can share your photographs, follow the adventures of other waterfall hunters, and find new places to explore:

  • Request to join the "New England Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "New Hampshire Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Northeastern Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Vermont Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Waterfalls of the United States" community > link

And if you'd like to follow the New England Waterfalls page on Facebook, click here.


Feel free to ask a question, leave a comment, and/or provide an update relevant to this waterfall below.
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Waterfalls, swimming holes, and hiking can be extremely dangerous. Hundreds of people have been injured or killed in the waterfalls and swimming holes of New England over the years. Never swim in strong water currents. Don't jump into a swimming hole without scouting it first. Do not climb up or along the side of waterfalls. Be wary of slippery rocks. Never swim in pools above waterfalls. Use of this website and all of its information is at your own risk! will not be held liable for your actions. Be safe out there - and always use common sense!

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