Best Adirondack Waterfall Hikes
by John Haywood
There certainly is no shortage of waterfalls in the Adirondacks! Thousands can be found among the streams, brooks, and rivers that flow throughout the over six-million acres that comprise the Adirondacks. We have compiled a list of our favorite, and what we consider to be the best, Adirondack waterfall hikes. These hikes include some of he most notable Adirondack waterfalls that you can visit without having to hike great distances or grueling trails.
Click the name of each waterfall to be taken to its own page with more information and a map.
OK Slip Falls – The tallest single-drop waterfall in the Adirondacks, OK Slip Falls stands at an estimated 250-feet. This waterfall forms on OK Slip Brook, a tributary to the Hudson River. The 3-mile, one way trail leads through the forest and to two viewing points for the fall.
Mossy Cascade – This 1.6 mile round-trip hike leads you through the forest and along Mossy Cascade Brook, which definitely lives up to its name. Moss-covered rocks and logs line the brook as it leads to the 40-foot cascade. The rock walls flanking the fall are green with moss and vegetation, no doubt how it got its name. Just before the main waterfall, there is an 8-foot fall that forms, dropping into a small pool. Reaching the base of the main falls can be tricky as the trail has been washed out and you must scramble and rock-hop up the brook. If you prefer to avoid that, you can follow the trail up the right side and view the fall from above.
Auger Falls – The half-mile hike to this 40-foot waterfall brings you through picturesque forest along the Sacandaga River in Wells. The unique shape of this waterfall has led to its being named Auger Falls many years ago. The chasm in which the falls form, give the appearance of being drilled out by a large auger.
Death Brook Falls – Also known as Secret Falls, Death Brook Falls is a hidden gem not far off the road in Raquette Lake. The 70-foot waterfall stands prominently as you turn into an open area that is lined with trees. The waterfall resembles Beaver Meadow Falls in Keene with its many small lips and shelves that bounce water back and forth. This gives the fall a really nice appearance.
Cascade Falls – Eagle Bay – This 40-foot cascade can be found along the loop trail that circles Cascade Lake in Eagle Bay. The trail to get the fall is 2.6 miles one way with spots to look out across the lake. As you arrive at the far end of the lake, the fall will be off to the right on an unnamed tributary to the lake.
Stag Brook – While this hike is only a one-mile round-trip, the fifteen waterfalls you will encounter will keep you plenty occupied! Stag Brook forms on the shoulder of Whiteface Mountain and flows down to join the West Branch of the Ausable River.
Following the trail up, you will first encounter Stag Brook Falls, the star attraction. However, many people who visit here don’t realize that the trail continues up for a waterfall-packed half-mile! Picnic Table Falls, the Block Cascade, and Footbridge Falls (all as named in the Keene Valley Region Waterfall Guide by Russell Dunn) await, surrounded by scenic views from the ski slopes.
Rocky Falls – This 2.2 mile hike to Indian Pass Brook follows a rolling trail into the High Peaks Wilderness where you’ll find Rocky Falls. This 8-foot waterfall forms on a large slab of bedrock where a boulder has come to rest in a crevice, splitting the flow of water. At the base of the falls are two large and deep pools; perfect for cooling off!
Shelving Rock Falls – The brief hike takes you to the popular spot along a tributary to Lake George. Shelving Rock Falls is a destination for many who want to either hang out at the 70-foot waterfall or stop by before or after hiking Shelving Rock Mountain.
Gill Brook – Gill Brook is a favorite waterfall hike due to the number of falls that form on this tributary to the East Branch of the Ausable River. Artists Falls and the Flume on Gill Brook are the two named falls along the 7-mile round-trip hike. At least another half-dozen other unnamed falls that form as the trail continues along the brook.
Rainbow Falls on the Adirondack Mountain Reserve – You can make this 3 3/4 mile hike to one of the most popular waterfalls in the Adirondacks one of three ways; by following Lake Road or by taking the East or West River Trail. While Lake Road is a nice and easy walk, the East River Trail is a beautiful hike along the East Branch of the Ausable River, as is the West River Trail. The West River Trail however, will bring you past several waterfalls such as Wedge Brook Falls and Beaver Meadow Falls.
With so many to visit, it can be hard to pin down a few to plan a trip. We also recommend checking out our Adirondack Waterfall Roadtrip series, including our Ultimate Adirondack Waterfall Roadtrip, for information to plan a trip!
For more information on New York waterfalls, please visit our New York State waterfall map.
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