They don't claim to rival Niagara Falls, but the Adirondacks have many cascading waterfalls. Some are within easy viewing distance from the highway, and some are remote and require a little more work to find.
Many of the most accessible waterfalls are concentrated in the Keene, Keene Valley and St. Huberts areas. The town of Keene is home to the confluences of brooks and streams, small and large, that eventually flow together to form the East Branch of the Ausable River. Spilling out of the surrounding Giant Mountain and Dix Mountain wilderness areas, the riverbeds drops dramatically in places, creating waterfalls. Most are within half a day's hike from the trailhead, making them a good alternative destination to the top of a mountain.
Visitors can also view many waterfalls from either of two of the Adirondacks' natural attractions - High Falls Gorge in the Wilmington Notch and Ausable Chasm in Keeseville.
One waterfall that is not currently open to the public, but deserves a mention here for being one of the tallest in the state, is OK Slip Falls. On land previously owned by the timber company Finch, Pruyn and Co., the falls has never been publicly accessible. The Nature Conservancy has purchased the land, which is slated to be added to the state forest preserve. Someday, the public will be able to view this 250-foot wonder.
Keep in mind that Rainbow Falls and Beaver Meadow Falls, which are listed below, are accessed through the Ausable Club property (Adirondack Mountain Reserve). Public parking is available just below the club off of state Route 73. At these two areas, vehicles, camping, fishing, hunting, boating, swimming, bushwhacking, rock climbing and dogs are all prohibited on this land.
The Adirondack Mountain Club guidebook says this waterfall should not be missed. This 150-foot-high waterfall can be found 3.3 miles up the Lake Road from the Ausable Club. This trail is relatively flat with just a 700-foot elevation gain in 3.5 miles. Be aware that club members drive this road.
Beaver Meadow Falls
Both Rainbow Falls and this 60-foot cascade can be seen in the same trip. Beaver Meadow Falls can be reached by either the East or West River Trail from the Ausable Club. On the Lake Road Trail, it is 2.7 miles to the junction of the falls trail.
This 20-foot falls can be found 5 miles up the Johns Brook Valley on the Johns Brook Trail. It's just 1.5 miles from the Johns Brook Lodge and, with two lean-tos in the vicinity, it is a popular resting place on the way to Mount Marcy. Hikers should begin from the Garden parking lot in Keene Valley.
Roaring Brook Falls
This narrow, 100-foot, two-segment falls can be seen easily from state Route 73. It can be approached from the top or the bottom on the Roaring Brook Trail, a route which continues to the summit of Giant Mt. Start from a parking area on state Route 73 3.3 miles south of Keene Valley. Use caution if hiking to the top of the falls. Several serious accidents have occurred here.
This wide, 20-foot falls in Keene is popular with whitewater kayakers. It can be found on Hulls Falls Road, off of state Route 73.
Dropping more than 100 feet off Cascade Mt., this waterfall can be easily admired from a parking and picnic spot between Upper and Lower Cascade lakes on state Route 73.
Wilmington Flume Falls
This series of three falls in a narrow gorge of the West Branch of the Ausable can be found on state Route 86 just north of the bridge past Whiteface Ski Center. There are parking areas on both sides of the road. The Flume has the added attractions of several swimming holes below the falls and hiking/mountain biking trails across the road.
This small drop on the West Branch of the Ausable marks the beginning of a series of rapids after a calm pool. It is a popular spot for fly fishing. It can be found on state Route 86 in the Wilmington Notch just below a parking area with a stone monument.
Split Rock Falls
This series of two waterfalls on the Bouquet River has the infamous distinction of being one of the more dangerous area swimming holes, especially when the river is swollen with rain water. Split Rock Falls has been the site of drownings over the years, most notably those of four camp counselors in 2003. This falls can be found on state Route 9 in New Russia.
This series of small waterfalls is just a quick 2.4 mile jaunt on the way to Indian Pass from Heart Lake. Located on Indian Pass Brook, a lean-to and swimming hole make Rocky Falls a good resting point or destination in itself. The trailhead is located at the Adirondack Loj.
This 25-foot waterfall on Marcy Brook, with views dominated by Algonquin Peak, is a popular resting spot on the way to Mount Marcy. It is about five miles from the trailhead at Adirondack Loj.
This series of falls is on the headwaters of the Chubb River off the Northville-Placid Trail. It is about seven miles from the trailhead on Averyville Road. The falls are just up a short incline after crossing a high wooden plank bridge.
(Editor's note: This article appeared in the June 27 print issue of the Enterprise.)