Waterfalls. They are the beautiful, tumultuous natural wonders that draw people to their white noise sound of crashing water. As thousands of visitors fill the High Peaks each year, and overuse becomes a more pressing issue than ever before, it is imperative to find new areas to draw hikers to in an effort to alleviate the crowded trails.
In addition to the High Peaks, waterfalls are another main attraction for visitors to the Adirondacks. They are the subject of artists who seek to share their beauty through various mediums, and hikers who welcome them as a place of respite during a journey; a refreshing spot to cool off as the mist that is kicked up by a torrent of crashing water, whirls outward from the base.
Thousands of waterfalls are spread out across the over six-million acres of the Adirondacks yet only a handful have become well-known. Here, you will find locations, away from the crowds, that are sure to satisfy the waterfall-lover in you.
Before setting off on your waterfall-chasing adventures, there are safety points to be made. By their very nature, outdoor activities can be dangerous. Please use caution and do not take any unnecessary risks.
Keep in mind that rocks in and around water can be extremely slippery or loose, causing one to slip and fall in the blink-of-an-eye.
44.354486, -73.863248 – Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
The Stag Brook Trail on Whiteface Mountain is perhaps the single-most overlooked waterfall trail in the Adirondacks. Often, visitors will visit the first, main waterfall, Stag Brook Falls, only to leave not knowing the bounty of waterfalls that were above.
To get there, park in the main parking area (44.353922, -73.859327) for Whiteface Mountain and cross the bridge that spans the West Branch Ausable River. Walk up the paved road to where you'll see a dirt road leading up to Stag Brook. You'll see signs pointing the way and a trail register at a "T" intersection where the service road meet. Follow the trail to 40-foot Stag Brook Falls.
From Stag Brook Falls, walk back up to where the trail leads down and look for a red blaze on a tree near a large boulder. The trail wraps around the left side and continues up to a lookout where the falls can be viewed. The trail continues up for another half-mile, encountering over a dozen waterfalls of differing shapes and sizes, including a 20-foot block cascade, a 100-foot waterslide, and a 30-foot inclined cascade.
44.128675, -74.544916 – Difficulty: Easy
Bog River Falls lies in a picturesque setting with two sets of falls, a stone bridge, and a perfect place for a picnic by the water. The first set of falls can be viewed from the side of the river after following the footpath from the parking area. From this point, looking left, you will see the top of the second set of falls as they form under the stone bridge that spans the river.
To get there, look for County Route 421 on the left off of NY-30 South heading toward Long Lake. Follow the road for approximately 0.7 miles and park on the left after crossing the bridge (44.128595, -74.545313).
There is a trail on each side of the river that leads to the lakeside where the larger falls can be viewed. The eastern side has a rocky outcrop that is a popular fishing spot at the base of the falls where the water crashes about as it rushes over the many rock formations that have formed.
43.810019, -74.594389 – Difficulty: Easy
This ominously-named waterfall, also known as Secret Falls, stands approximately 70-feet and widens from top to bottom in a similar fashion to Beaver Meadow Falls in Keene. Multiple shelves create a number of nice drops within the cascade giving it a nice look even in times of low water.
To get there, follow Route 28 west from Blue Mountain Lake for approximately 9.4 miles. Look for a dirt road with a yellow gate on the left (43.812758, -74.596015). You can park along the road there, but do not block the road that leads into the woods. Follow the trail through the large open area to where the trail picks up across the way. Continue along until you reach a stream that flows from the right. Follow the footpath on the right to the falls. Altogether, the trail is approximately 0.3 mile.
43.501329, -74.279741 – Difficulty: Easy
If you stood Austin Falls on end, it would be the tallest waterfall in New York as the Sacandaga River drops 40 feet over a 300-yard stretch.
In this section, the river becomes narrow creating turbulence as the water rushes down a waterslide-like flume that ends with a 7 to 8-foot drop at the end.
To get there, follow NY-30 South from Speculator for 3.1 miles where you'll see a road to the left named Old Route 30 (43.510458, -74.314497). Follow this road for approximately 2.7 miles to where the road runs parallel to the river. Park on the side of the road and follow one of the footpaths to the falls.
43.467358, -74.246311 – Difficulty: Easy
While Auger Falls is a well-known waterfall, it doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves. This waterfall forms in a gorge on the Sacandaga River a couple of miles below Austin Falls. This waterfall has a unique look because the river is split by a large rocky outcrop before spilling down.
To get there, follow NY-30 South from Speculator for approximately 8 miles until you see a sign for the Auger Falls Trailhead on the left. Park in the unpaved parking lot, then follow a dirt road heading south from the lot. You will come to a trail register and beginning of the trail. The 0.3-mile yellow-blazed trail to the falls makes for a pleasant walk through the woods.
43.452850, -74.233771 – Difficulty: Easy
If you're a fan of mossy rock as well as waterfalls, these falls that form on the eastern Jimmy Creek in Wells will be a favorite!
Forming at the head of a small gorge, these falls stand about 10-feet as the creek then winds through the chasm. Thick layers of moss and vegetation have covered the gorge walls creating an almost other-worldly feel.
The hike into the falls is a very brief couple-hundred feet from a pull-off on NY 8 and the trail lead to a lookout from which to view the falls. Visitors can walk up the gorge but, caution must be used as the rocks are extremely slippery.
To get there, drive approximately 4.2 miles from Wells to the intersection of NY 30 and NY 8. Turn right onto NY 8 and drive approximately 1.1 miles where there will be a pull-off on the left (43.453388, -74.233655). Park and cross the road and follow one of two footpaths into the woods. Follow the creek to the falls.
43.628104, -73.607986 – Difficulty: Easy
Two nice waterfalls form on a short stretch of Northwest Bay Brook in Bolton just before the brook reaches Lake George. The first waterfall drops about 20 feet as it wraps around a bend on the brook while the second one forms 100 yards upstream and also drops approximately 20 feet.
To get there, drive north on NY-9N from the intersection of NY-9 and NY-9N in Lake George for approximately 15.8 miles to a parking area near the Clay Meadow trailhead (43.629340, -73.608370). Park, cross and follow the road south to where you see a gate on the right. Follow the unmarked trail up to a lookout where you will see the second waterfall below. To get to the lower falls, walk back down and look for the footpath to the right. Follow to the first set of falls.
These waterfalls are just a small sample of what awaits throughout the Adirondacks. The sheer volume of waterfalls ensures countless adventures for days and days. For more information on waterfalls, visit www.digthefalls.com and reference The Adirondack Waterfall Guide and Keene Valley Region Waterfall Guide, both by Russell Dunn.
All photography credit: John Haywood