Must-See Fall Foliage Waterfalls in the Adirondacks
by John Haywood
When you think of Autumn in the Adirondacks, you may think of sweeping vistas as seen from a mountaintop or a drive along one of the scenic byways that pass through some of the most beautiful areas in New York State. What you should be thinking, however, is how you can double down and see Adirondack waterfalls as they show off Fall colors all in one shot! Take a trip with us to some of the must-see Fall foliage waterfalls in the Adirondacks!
For information, including maps and driving directions, click the name of each waterfall.
Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park – Pottersville –
While you won’t get much foliage while admiring a waterfall inside a cave, the outside setting for this magnificent park will captivate as Autumn sets in and leaves begin to change. Sawmill Falls sits right in the middle of it all!
Blue Ridge Falls – North Hudson –
While not the largest of Adirondack waterfalls, Blue Ridge Falls’ surroundings certainly impress when the leaves reach peak! Catch this view from a pull-off at roadside.
Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm – Keeseville –
The “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks” wears Fall colors nicely, and the backdrop to Rainbow Falls is a stunner. You can take in the sights while on a self-guided tour (highly recommended), or from roadside.
Jay Falls – Jay –
The Jay Covered Bridge and Jay Falls are flanked with spectacular fiery colors when the time is right. This is truly a must-see at peak and definitely one of the must-see Fall foliage waterfalls in the Adirondacks!
Roaring Brook Falls – Keene –
This iconic 300ft ribbon cascade, and the spots of Fall color that accentuate the side of Giant Mountain, can be seen from roadside. It’s also possible to hike in to the base of the falls at a trailhead found at the bottom of the hill. Use caution as you descend as this is a busy trailhead and parking area.
Cascade Lake Falls – Keene –
Another large waterfall that can be seen from roadside, Cascade Lake Falls forms on the side of Cascade Mountain. To get a safe view, drive down to the parking area between the Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes.
Rocky Falls – North Elba –
A moderate 2.2-mile hike through the forest brings you to Rocky Falls where the 10ft fall becomes surrounded with a variety Autumn colors. What makes this trip even more rewarding are the breathtaking colors that show along Heart Lake, which you will pass on your way to the falls.
On your way through Lake Placid, make a stop at The Bookstore Plus!
Stag Brook – Wilmington –
Fall colors will line Stag Brook’s 0.6-mile trail up Whiteface Mountain and the endless waterfalls that form there. Probably more impressive than the waterfalls will be the amazing show the Fall foliage puts on on Whiteface Mountain as reds and oranges cover this High Peak outlier. The drive along Route 86 is one of the best for Fall foliage.
Bog River Falls – Tupper Lake –
One of the more peaceful settings when it comes to Adirondack waterfalls, Bog River Falls has an upper and a lower set of cascades. The upper falls has a perfect area for sitting along the river to relax and and enjoy the view. The lower falls are more turbulent, but picturesque with the stone bridge and surrounding trees making this one of the best Adirondack waterfalls for fall foliage!
Buttermilk Falls – Arietta/Long Lake –
This popular waterfall may share its name with two-dozen others across the state, but when it puts on its Falls wardrobe, there’s no comparison! Surrounded by nice yellows, Buttermilk Falls really stands out in a crowd.
Death Brook Falls – Raquette Lake –
A quick and easy hike/walk in to see this waterfall results in rewarding views. The surrounding trees offer prime Fall foliage colors when peak season arrives. You’ll want to stop and admire Blue Mountain Lake on your way to or from this cascade.
Beecher Creek Falls – Edinburg –
This 20ft fall is a show-stopper, putting on the Autumn colors as nicely as the much larger waterfalls in the Adirondacks. The waterfall, and the Copeland Covered Bridge that spans Beecher Creek just below the falls, can be viewed from a lookout above, or from a short path that leads to the creek and bridge.
That completes our list of must-see Fall foliage waterfalls in the Adirondacks! Hike safe!
PLEASE NOTE: All properties should be considered posted and/or private property unless you have specific knowledge otherwise. Access to any waterfall or natural area of any category is a privilege and can be revoked at any time for any reason. Respect landowner rights, speak out should you witness anyone doing otherwise and educate everyone willing to listen about good environmental stewardship and the Leave No Trace (LNT) ideology. Please use our New York State Waterfall Map responsibly.
Dig The Falls would like all site visitors to take the greatest precautions when visiting any location listed herein. Although there are some locations that fall within park systems, there are many more that do not and are considered very dangerous to visit. ALL outdoor locations can be considered dangerous. In visiting this website you are agreeing to release Dig The Falls of any liability from any visitations to any of the locations listed on the website as a whole.
Outdoor recreational activities are, by their very nature, potentially hazardous and contain risk. Locations, trails, and waterfalls listed on this site, and conditions, accuracy, and safety, cannot be guaranteed. You are hiking and visiting these locations at your own risk and at your own will.
Some waterfalls have a reputation for being dangerous. While terrain and trail conditions can make any waterfall hazardous, ALMOST every accident at waterfalls can be avoided.
By following a few pointers and exercising diligence and common sense, a trip to a waterfall can be a lasting memory rather than a tragedy.
- Waterfalls, by their very nature, are a draw for people to climb on, swim near, or jump from. If you decide to jump (please—never dive!) into an inviting pool at a waterfall, it is imperative that you first check out the water for unseen objects. Trees, branches, and other debris can wash downstream and become lodged under the water’s surface, creating an unseen and deadly hazard. Large trees, boulders, and even debris like rope or netting can ensnare someone, with disastrous consequences.
- When water levels are high and waterfalls really get going, there will be not only be an increase in the power of the current, but an increase in foam and aeration (air bubbles in the water) as the water shoots down into the pool from above. This aerated water does not afford the same resistance that swimmers are used to when they try to pull themselves up or out.
Increased water circulation and the force of the onrushing current can also push swimmers into or under underwater ledges, giving no chance for escape. Many swimmers have perished because they underestimated the power of moving water. Do not swim when conditions even look dangerous. Chances are, they are.
- Do not get too close to the edge of the waterfall’s precipice. Too many people have fallen to their deaths by trying to get a better look or by getting that photo or selfie. NO PHOTOGRAPH OR “SELFIE” IS WORTH YOUR LIFE.
If signs are posted, pay close attention and do not go where they tell you not to. They are there for a reason. Just because you may see others doing things that they shouldn’t be doing doesn’t mean it’s allowed. Instagram stardom doesn’t count if you’re dead.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. If you are in a gorge or area with high walls, look around for potentially hazardous objects that might fall. Nothing should be discounted here. Boulders, trees, and blocks of ice can break loose from above and come crashing down. When in doubt, make the safe call.
- Crossing high and/or turbulent water should only be done if you are properly equipped to do so and have an exit plan if you should get swept off your feet.
- Wear proper footwear; something with good traction and support that will help prevent slipping. If visiting a waterfall in the winter, wear micro-spikes or other traction devices to keep you from slipping on ice.
- Wear proper clothing at all times. When wet, cotton and denim will remain damp for prolonged periods, potentially leading to hypothermia (a dangerous cooling down of the body), even in moderate weather.
- Always carry a flashlight, headlamp, or other form of lighting in case your hike goes on longer than you had planned, and it gets dark. Don’t rely on a cell phone flashlight.
- Always respect posted and private property, and practice “carry in, carry out” with any trash you may have made from wrappers or bottles.
- Take note that many of these hikes would be considered “difficult” or “moderate” to the average hiker. Participants should be aware of their own abilities, and of the risks associated with outdoor activities. Preparation is vital.
- Those who plan on hiking to any of these waterfalls should make the necessary preparations and consult the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) website at www.dec.ny.gov for bulletins, weather alerts, and other important information.
- Using drugs and/or alcohol is not recommended when visiting waterfalls, as impaired abilities can lead to accidents.