Way up north in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, in Franconia Notch State Park, is a water feature like few others. “The Basin” is a large, bowl-shaped indentation in solid granite, 20 feet across. It’s a whirlpool of rushing water during flood season, as the Pemigewasset River overflows its banks; in dryer times of the year, it’s a deep, serene, pool.
The ice-cold, spring-fed “Pemi” runs rapidly through the mountains, with a waterfall directly into the Basin. Wikipedia says that it “was scrubbed out by stones dragged (and eventually deposited) by the retreating North American ice sheet, and since made smooth by 15 millennia of rapidly whirling pebbles and grit.”
Although you’re not allowed into the Basin itself, there is great swimming and wading both upstream and downstream from the Basin–and even a makeshift water slide, as TC found out by accident when he slipped and fell into the stream.
It wasn’t dangerous or anything; the water is only a few inches deep, but it was running so fast he just couldn’t get his feet under him without help. Matt and his brother ran down to where the stream made a sharp bend, and fished him out, about 50 feet further downstream than he had started. As soon as he came out, he ran right back up to where he’d fallen in, yelling “I wanna go again!”
Our most recent trip to visit the Basic was several
years ago, when we visited with Matt’s parents and brother. At the time, they lived a couple of hours north of us, so meeting in the middle near Franconia Notch became a regular thing for us.
It’s a short hike up from the parking area, with great opportunities to wade in the stream, or clamber over rocks and fallen logs… or both.
It’s free, and it’s a very refreshing and beautiful stop in the middle of New Hampshire’s White Mountains as you’re driving up I-93. It’s not a long hike if you’re in a hurry, and if you’re not in a hurry, then take your time and enjoy the scenery and the sparking, rushing, icy-cold water around the Basin.