adirondack waterfall hikes
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17 Best Adirondack Waterfall Hikes to go on

It’s pretty well known that there is no shortage of amazing Adirondack waterfall hikes (there’s probably 100s) but in this post I’m going to share with your the 17 best ones I’ve seen so far.

I have many articles detailing the beauty of New York and what to see there, including the top waterfalls all across the state but the Adirondack Mountains of this state deserve their own post for this topic because of how gigantic and beautiful this area is (and because I’ve had numerous people comment on how I don’t cover this area enough). This post is also open to any suggestions (polite ones of course) about which waterfalls hikes you recommend I add to this list, so 17 isn’t a final number here (it’s more of my personal view on what I consider awesome waterfalls in the Adirondack Mountains).

Here are the 17 best Adirondack Mountain waterfall hikes to see:

  1. Rainbow Falls
  2. Rock Garden Falls
  3. T Lake Falls
  4. OK Slip Falls
  5. Split Rock Falls
  6. High Falls Gorge
  7. Shelving Rock Falls
  8. Beaver Meadow Falls
  9. Buttermilk Falls
  10. The Flume Falls
  11. Rainbow Falls of Ausable Chasm
  12. Wanika Falls
  13. Alice Falls
  14. Rocky Falls
  15. Roaring Brook Falls
  16. High Falls
  17. Hanging Spear Falls

Before I get into the details of each of these waterfall hikes, I want to note that some of them in this region have the exact same names (such as High Falls or Rainbow Falls), but I will be providing details (map included) on where to find the specific ones on this list so you don’t accidentally go to the wrong one.

Note: I don’t have the best pictures of every waterfall (which is why some are missing) but I have included how to find them so you can see them on Google maps and decide if you want to check them out (with details on how to to hike to them). I can assure you that they are amazing (including the hikes). I’ll be sure to update this post when new (better) photos come around.

Rainbow Falls:

adirondack rainbow falls hike 01

There’s a good chance that if you look for popular Adirondack waterfalls, that this will be the one that pops up most often. Rainbow Falls is absolutely stunning to hike to, but it’s not simple as it takes about 5 miles (one way) to reach. It’s also part of an amazing (and long) hike called the Indian Head Adirondacks trail which I have done fully and aside from this waterfall being incredible, the hike itself is also amazing.

  • Hike difficulty: Hard
  • Height: 150 feet.
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: About 5 miles one way (nearly 10 miles in and out trip, loop options available).
  • Location: Keene Valley NY. You have to drive up to the Indian Head Mountain parking lot and there is a permit reservation to enter. If you wish to get here, I would reserve a spot at least 1 month in advance (It really is that popular).

Rock Garden Falls:

rock garden falls adirondack waterfall hikes

Rock Garden Falls is one of the shortest hikes to a waterfall you’ll find in the Adirondack Mountains but there is no official trailhead to this falls. You have to follow specific directions which involves driving on road 73 and stopping at a certain pull off, then hiking down to the falls. I visited this waterfall very recently and I almost missed it because the water flow was so low but it is worth seeing because it’s close to the road and very scenic (when the water flows well).

  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Height: 50 feet
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: About 50 feet
  • Location: Here is where you’ll find Rock Garden Falls. It’s very close to Chapel Pond, one of the most scenic spots I’ve ever seen in the Adirondacks.

T Lake Falls:

T Lake Falls is very scenic but also requires a long hike to reach (5 miles one way). Fortunately it is on a trail that’s easy to follow and one of the things about this waterfall that makes it so amazing is how tall it is. It is a cascading falls but overall height wise, it’s very tall and there are sources that say it’s the tallest in New York too (something I thought belonged to Taughannock Falls).

  • Hike difficulty: Moderatehard
  • Height: 300+ feet
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: 5 miles to reach it
  • Location: Poplar Point park, where there are trailhead markers that’ll take you to this falls. I would also recommend using AllTrails since T Lake Falls is on it and will help.

OK Slip Falls:

adirondack mountains ok slip falls hike

This is another huge waterfall that you can find in the Adirondacks, but reaching it also isn’t easy. The hike is about 3-4 miles one way to reach the overlook of it but this is probably the #2 highest waterfall in the whole area.

  • Hike difficulty: Moderate
  • Height: 200+ feet
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: 3-4 miles (one way)
  • Location: OK Slip Falls trailhead

Split Rock Falls:

Split Rock Falls is very similar to Rock Garden Falls in that it’s basically close to the road and there is no official trail to reach it. Yet there is a pull off by Split Rock Falls trailhead here after which you will have to navigate down to the river and falls. This is not a large waterfall but it is very beautiful and there are swimming holes right by it. Also keep in mind that Split Rock Falls is not the only waterfall in New York that has this same name too so use that GPS link I provided to get you to the one in the Adirondack Mountains.

  • Hike difficulty: Moderate
  • Height: 20 feet high
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: About 100-200 feet
  • Location: It’s on road 9 on the eastern side of the Adirondack Mountains. Here is also a good page to make sure you get to it correctly, but the trailhead link above will also be accurate.

High Falls Gorge:

adirondack mountains high falls gorge hike

This is the only Adirondack waterfall hike that isn’t so much a hike as it is a boardwalk. It’s less than 1 mile to do it but to get in, you have to pay $13 per person (adult, kids tickets cost less). This is basically a gorge walk upriver to see beautiful waterfalls and views and it is very scenic and popular, great for families and people who can’t really do more moderate level hikes in the Adirondack Mountains.

In somewhat related tourism spots, there are similar spots to explore in places like New Hampshire where there is a Lost River Gorge area and Flume Gorge that has similar adventures.

  • Hike difficulty: Easy 
  • Height: 50 feet
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: 50 feet
  • Location: Here is a Google map for it

Shelving Rock Falls:

adirondack mountains shelving rock waterfall hike

Shelving Rock Falls is a very popular waterfall around the Lake George area (southern most ends of the Adirondack Mountains) and is basically a scenic, cascading waterfall to hike to. There is also a great view of the Lake George area on this hike as well (Shelving Rock Mountain Summit).

  • Hike difficulty: Moderate
  • Height: 50 feet
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: 1.5 miles one way
  • Location in the Adirondack Mountains: Western side of Lake George. Here is a Google map for it.

Beaver Meadow Falls:

beaver meadow falls in adirondack mountains hike

Beaver Meadow Falls happens to be on a connecting trail that takes you to Rainbow Falls (the first waterfall hike on this list). Getting there is also a long hike and since you are parking in the same area as for Rainbow Falls, you will need to get a reservation first. The waterfall itself is over 50 feet high, very scenic and is a great connecting falls to explore in addition to Rainbow Falls and other peaks in the Adirondacks in the area.

  • Hike difficulty: Moderate
  • Height: 50 feet
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: 3-4 miles (one way)
  • Location: Same exact trailhead as to Rainbow Falls. You’ll need to park at Indian Head trailhead and with a pass enter the trail. The official spot for Beaver Meadow Falls is here, but you have to start off on the parking lot by Indian Head trailhead.

Buttermilk Falls:

buttermilk falls in adirondack mountains hike

Buttermilk Falls isn’t nearly as tall as most of the other ones on this list but it is very wide, beautiful and somewhat resembles Niagara Falls. Reaching this waterfall isn’t difficult either and the hike to it is also pretty simple and scenic.

10) The Flume Falls:

This is also a small but beautiful waterfall. I added it to this list because it’s located by a gorge, there is a scenic bridge over it and the hike to reach the waterfall and in general around the area is simple, scenic and fun to do. There is also a swimming hole to check out and overall for an Adirondack waterfall hike, this is one of the best.

Rainbow Falls (Ausable Chasm):

adirondack mountains rainbow falls in ausable chasm hike

This is a great example of different waterfalls (in the Adirondacks in this case) which have the same exact name but are in totally different parts. This specific waterfall is located in Ausable Chasm, a stunning area in NY and the Adirondacks I recommend you visit.

There is a large bridge you can cross by car or walk on to see it. Another option is to get a ticket to enter Ausable Chasm and walk to a viewing platform where you can see the waterfall underneath the bridge that gives it that rainbow look plus a bunch of other great sights (I’ve made a post with more Ausable Chasm photos that show that and the other gems to see there). I also highly recommend exploring the greater Ausable Chasm area because it has a lot to of stunning areas to check out including a raft ride.

  • Hiking difficulty: Easy
  • Height: There are 3 waterfalls that are about 50 feet high.
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: To see the falls, there is no real hike but there are hiking trails in Ausable Chasm and most of them are easy.
  • Location in the Adirondack Mountains: Ausable Chasm

12) Wanika Falls:

Out of all the Adirondack waterfall hikes on this list, Wanika Falls is the longest and toughest. However it is also a beautiful waterfall and if you like challenging hikes with few crowds to worry about, this might be one to try.

  • Hiking difficulty: Hard
  • Height: This waterfall is over 100 feet high and it cascades. 
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: 7-8 miles one way! 
  • Location: There is a Google map listing for Wanika Falls but there are no nearby roads or trailhead. To start on the right trail to reach it, I’d recommend you check this page out for directions.

13) Alice Falls:

Right behind Ausable Chasm (south in this case) is a small area for picnics and simple hikes. In that area is a nice waterfall hike called Alice Falls. It’s not large, but it is a simple place to reach and if you are traveling with family or need a scenic spot to stay at for a meal, this is a great place to check out. There are also nice views and other falls in the area (like a dam waterfall).

  • Hiking difficulty: Very easy
  • Height: 30-40 feet
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: Maybe 100 feet
  • Location: Alice Falls

14) Rocky Falls:

This is another small but scenic waterfall hike (with a swimming hole). Rocky Falls takes about 2 miles to reach but it worth it if you like good views, swimming and nice scenery. However it is also popular so there are crowds hiking there too.

  • Hiking difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Height: 25 feet
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: About 2 to 2.5 miles one way
  • Location: Start at Mount Jo trailhead here. There are trail markers from there that take you to Rocky Falls and I would also recommend hiking up to Mount Jo too!

Roaring Brook Falls:

adirondack mountains roaring brook falls hike

This is a very tall, yet tight waterfall which you can see from a distance on the road. However because this post deals with hikes to Adirondack waterfalls, there happens to be one here too!

High Falls:

There are so many “High Falls” around the New England area, but this specific one I want to tell you about is in the Adirondack Mountains and is one of the most scenic waterfalls I’ve ever seen. It looks somewhat like Kaaterskill Falls (another Catskill waterfall), but is smaller, yet well worth visiting!

Hanging Spear Falls:

Hanging Spear Falls, the last waterfall hike on the list (at least for now) is also highly recommended. Like a few of the other options on this list, it is actually quite remote and takes over 5 miles to reach, making it a tough waterfall hike to explore, but at the same time better for less crowds to worry about.

  • Hiking difficulty: Hard
  • Height: 70+ feet high
  • Hiking distance to waterfall: 5-6 miles one way.
  • Location in the Adirondack Mountains: Directions to Hanging Speak Falls

More questions about Adirondack waterfalls:

How many waterfalls are in the Adirondacks?

There are several 100 waterfalls in the Adirondack Mountains.


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  1. Vitaliy! After living in Oregon, ‘the waterfall capital’ lol, or so they claim anyhow, I have been hooked on looking for the next best waterfall hike. 

    Moving to Arizona was not the best of choices to go on with that train of thought, however.

    The Adirondack mountains are some that I have not spent any time in. I enjoyed the Rocky Mts for well over 20 years, then moved to Oregon and got to experience some of the Cascade range, not nearly enough of it.

    My late husband got lost in the Adirondack Mts when he was about 9 years old. He and his older brother who was around 12, spent 4 days and 3 nights out by themselves, they found their own way out somehow. That was in the late 1960s.

    After reading your article, Oregon has got to make a new claim. Clearly, New York’s waterfalls are far superior! The main 2 falls I really want to visit from your list are T Lake Falls with the 300+ feet water drop, and OK Slip Falls with the 200+ feet water drop. The terrain sounds perfect and the hikes didn’t sound awful or impossible.

    I did notice some visual similarities between N.Y. and Oregon around the waterfall areas. All the ferns and moss and the hue rock formations all engulfed in thick dense woods.

    Thank you for sharing these gold mine finds of waterfalls. I have some new travel plans in my near future.


    1. Hi Stacie! So I have some very good news for you in many regards. Firstly, Oregon does have amazing waterfalls and I have personally explored many of them. In fact, I have a post on the best waterfall hikes in Oregon that may challenge some of the ones here in NY! 

      And even with regards to Arizona, that state also has them and guess what? I also have a post on the best waterfalls in Arizona too you may want to explore. I love AZ and the hiking there is even better than here in NY in my opinion. I’m actually writing a whole article right now about the best day hikes in Arizona so if you enjoy more than just waterfall hikes, stay tuned for that post to be up soon!

      But as for NY, yeah we have incredible waterfall hikes, not just in the Adirondack Mountains but also the Catskills and Finger Lakes, 2 additional regions I’d add to your exploration if you come here. Both are incredible places alongside the Adirondacks. 

  2. Never realized there were so many beautiful waterfalls in the Adirondacks.  Like how you provide general descriptions and rates for getting to each. This will be very helpful in planning my next trip there. Additional info on best times to visit each of the falls would be helpful or expectations with the seasons. Thanks!

    1. For seasonal hiking, I’d say anytime but winter is good to see the Adirondack waterfalls Dave. You are more likely to get the peak season and crowds between spring and summer. Later in the fall months, say mid October through mid November is a good time to see fall foliage in New York as well as in the Adirondacks.

      Your name also says you’re in Ohio. That state also has incredlble spots like Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Hocking Hills State Park

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