Long before recorded history, massive glaciers shaped the land in North America. The powerful forces of water, wind, and time created the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves in Kinsman Notch (Woodstock, NH) about 300 million years ago. The Ice Age brought glaciers that lifted and moved enormous rocks, which formed notches and mountains. When the ice eventually melted, the water eroded the rocks and the Lost River Gorge was formed. If you happen to visit the Woodstock, NH area, be sure to check out the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves.
We have a place in Woodstock, so my family visits the area regularly. Since that’s the case, we actually purchased season passes so that we could go all the time. My kids love climbing through the caves and I love that it’s a great workout with amazing views.
Experience The Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves
The Gorge is partially filled with immense chunks of granite, spectacular waterfalls and rugged caves. The Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves is a great place to visit and walk, especially if you feel adventurous. Walking along the boardwalk is scenic, however, for those that want more out of their experience, there are a lot of glacial caves to explore and crawl and climb through. Your journey into the Lost River Gorge can be as easy or as ambitious as you choose. Stay on the boardwalk, or climb and in some cases, crawl through the boulder caves. The Boulder caves are huge rocks that have fallen together over time to create little caves and passageways that are so much fun for the kids to explore.
What to Expect on this Memorable Outdoor Experience
Your visit to the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves will start with a long descent down a lot of stairs. The gorge is located approximately 300 feet down into the earth, so you will walk the trail to get down there. The first stop from the trail is a viewing platform with an amazing view of the gorge. It’s a Kodak moment for sure, so make sure you have your camera handy. From there, you will enter in to the gorge and there you will find your first cave which is called The Sun Altar. Since the gorge is about 300 feet below the surface, it’s quite a bit cooler down there. When I went, however, it was about 20 degrees cooler in the gorge.
The Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves is definitely a memorable outdoor experience for kids and adults. Also, do you remember that I mentioned all the stairs down to the gorge? Keep in mind that what goes down must also go up! There are as many stairs going back up as there are leading down to the gorge. A trip to the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves is a great workout!
Explore the Caves at the Lost River Gorge
As you walk along the boardwalk, you will come across many rock and boulder formations like the Cave of Odin, Fenris the Wolf and Thor’s Cauldron. Additionally some of the other caves are: Thor’s Workshop, Devil’s Kitchen, the Cave of Silence, Parallel Rocks, The Center of the Earth, the popular Lemon Squeezer, the Dungeon, Bear Crawl, Judgment Hall of Pluto, Hall of Ships, Shadow Cave, and the Rotunda. You will also get a chance to see the spectacular waterfall named Paradise Falls, which is equally impressive.
While the caves are certainly natural wonders, many of them are very tight squeezes. There were many that I couldn’t even fit through. If you’re not a fan of small spaces, there are a few caves that you will want to skip. Don’t worry, however, because there are clearly marked signs at each cave entrance. The signs have information about what to expect and where each cave exit is (because some of them are long).
As you walk along the trail at the Lost River, you will also come across two bridges. The first is a covered walking bridge and the second is a suspension bridge. Both bridges were added as part of an expansion project in 2015. The suspension bridge is 60 feet long and as you cross, you will see the most gorgeous views of the gorge and scenic Kinsman Notch. It is absolutely breathtaking. If you’re tired from all the stair climbing, you can choose to skip the newly expanded trail and opt to head for the exit. If you are not too tired, though, there is a great tree house structure just over the suspension bridge. It’s tons of fun for the kids to climb through.
More About the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves
- The Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves hike is just about one mile and it takes about 2 hours to go through the entire thing. Don’t rush it however. Plan to spend the day and explore everything since there is so much to see.
- The massive glacial boulders are incredibly impressive. If you choose to climb and crawl through the caves you will get dirty and wet. Be sure to dress accordingly and in addition, make sure to wear sneakers when you go.
- No strollers are allowed in the gorge
- If you go the day after a rain storm, be careful on the stairs, which get slippery when they are wet.
The mountain setting and the river that passes through the gorge makes this place a nature lovers dream. In addition, there are scenic visits and photo ops galore. The Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves are open May-October. If you find yourself in the Woodstock, New Hampshire area, it’s definitely a memorable outdoor experience.