A day-long waterfall adventure!
by John Haywood
Everyone loves New York waterfalls! Those roaring and splashing natural wonders can be found almost everywhere in the Adirondacks. The beauty of the mountains is they have the perfect terrain for the formation of cascades of all types. There are numerous waterfalls along Route 73 alone and a few more on Route 86 leading to Wilmington, that are easily accessible or viewable from roadside.
Here is a list of easily accessible waterfalls that would make for a great day-trip. This is just a small sample of what’s out there in the Adirondacks!
If you’re interested in looking for waterfalls, I highly recommend Russell Dunn’s waterfall guides.
Clicking on the name of the falls will take you to a page with a map showing its location. The GPS coordinates have also been provided under the names if using a GPS unit to navigate.
Almost from the beginning as you depart the Northway at exit 30, you can begin a rich waterfall daytrip full of slides, drops, horsetails, and ribbons! Turning left into Route 9 from the exit, head straight and follow Route 9 as it veers right to head north. Proceed until you cross a small bridge that spans the Boquet River and pull into the small parking area on the right. You will hear the sound of water flowing over Split Rock Falls as soon as you exit your vehicle. Follow one of the paths to the river and over to a few vantage points to view these spectacular falls.
Please be very careful as there is a steep drop over the edge.
This area is an extremely popular swimming hole in the Summer and loaded with people enjoying the refreshing water. The best times to visit are during the week or in the morning on the weekends.
Head back to where you turned up onto Route 9 and follow Route 73 west for little ways and you will be able to see Chasm Cascade from the road on the right. Just after crossing a small bridge that spans the North Fork of the Boquet River, park in a small pull-off on the right. From here, walk back down Route 73 to view the cascade from roadside. Across the road from where you parked will be a path leading along the river. Follow this path and you will come to a couple sites with fire pits, including one that overlooks a large, deep pool with a small cascade. You can climb down to get a better view.
This area has become known as Fern Gully and is a popular swimming hole. Further upriver is a medium size waterfall and swimming hole called Shoebox Falls.
Continuing west on Route 73, you will approach an area with parking on both sides for the Giant Mountain trailhead. After crossing the bridge that spans Beede Brook, immediately pull off on the right and park. You will see a path leading into the woods to a waterfall visible from the road. Follow the path a short distance and you will be at picturesque Rock Garden Falls.
The Beer Walls are a popular location for rock and ice climbers and home to the waterfall showcased by one of the best views in the state. This hike requires ascending a path up a steep hill and may not be suitable for everyone.
Driving west from Rock Garden Falls, pay attention as the road begins to slope downward. Look to the left for the first pull-off area and park there. Walk down the road and look for a small wooden bridge and path that leads up the hill.
Once you reach the wooden outhouse, follow the path to the right and look for a large rock structure on the left. You will see the path leading up between the rocks. Follow this and you will come to an overlook of Chapel Pond Canyon. Beer Walls Falls will be across the canyon. You will also be able to see The Great Range in the distance to the right of the falls. This waterfall tends to be seasonal so visiting in early Spring or after a decent rain is recommended.
Note: Keep in mind this is a very seasonal waterfall best viewed in Spring or after heavy rains.
44°08.951 -73°45.787 – Roadside view, 44°08.708 -73°45.291 – Trailhead
Roaring Brook Falls is among the tallest waterfalls in NY. This ribbon-type cascade contains a few sections that make up the entire waterfall.
Follow Route 73 west down the hill and you will be able to catch a quick glimpse of the falls from the road. Note: It is much easier to see coming from the opposite direction. There is a pull-off on your right where you can get a good look at the falls. Immediately at the bottom of the hill you will be the parking area and trailhead for Roaring Brook Falls. Park there and the falls will be .6 mile in. The trail is relatively level and an easy walk. Use caution at the base of the falls as loose rocks may pose a danger if they were to break free and tumble down.
From the Roaring Brook Falls parking area, continue west on Route 73 through Keene Valley and look for Hull’s Falls Road on the left just after passing by Marcy Field. Drive on Hull’s Falls Road until you come upon the bridge that crosses the Ausable River. Park along the road and view the falls from the bridge. There are posted signs so please respect private property.
Cascade Lake Falls
Head back to Route 73 and continue to drive west. After leaving Keene and driving up what seems like an endless hill, the road levels out and you will come to the Cascade Lakes. After passing he first lake, there will be a road on the left that leads to a small park. From here you will be able to view the falls that cascade down the side of Cascade Mountain. It is also possible to walk in to the base of the falls. These falls are also able to be seen from the road.
These falls are formed on the West Branch of the Ausable River under a former dam.
From the Cascade lakes, drive until you reach the intersection of Route 73 and Route 86 in Lake Placid and turn right onto Route 86. Drive until you see the sign for Quarry Pool and park in the small pull-off on the left. Follow the path to the river and continue upriver until you reach the falls.
From Quarry Pool Falls, follow Route 86 a short distance north until you see a large pull-off on the left with two stone monuments. Park and walk north along the guardrail and you will see Monument Falls – a small, yet scenic waterfall. You will also see Whiteface Mountain from here.
Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, NY is home to 40 foot Stag Brook Falls. To get there, follow Rte 86 until you come to the entrance for Whiteface Mountain. Turn left and park in the lot nearest the river before crossing the bridge that spans the Ausable River. Walk across the bridge and uphill following a dirt road until you reach the “T” intersection. Walk straight ahead from there and you will see the trail register. Follow the trail to Stag Brook Falls.
Continuing on Route 86, you will come to a bridge that crosses the Ausable River. Pull into the parking area on your left. Walk to the bridge, and you will see a nice waterfall that is accessible from the parking area. To get to the lower sections, cross over the bridge and follow a trail along the east bank that parallels the river.
Your last stop will be at the Falls in Jay. These large falls are unique in that you may view them from the covered bridge that spans the Ausable River.
Continue on Route 86 to the intersection with Route 9N. Cross Route 9N and drive down the hill where you will find a small parking area and the covered bridge.
There you have it! A perfect day full of waterfalls in the Adirondacks!
As with any outdoor activity, hiking can be dangerous, especially near waterfalls, please use the highest amount of caution.
Look for the Keene Valley Region Waterfall Guide by Russell Dunn.
For more information on New York State waterfalls, please visit our New York waterfall map.
Keep an eye out for more Adirondack Waterfall road-trips!