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:

adirondack waterfall hikes

  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.

1) Rainbow Falls (very popular Adirondack waterfall):

adirondack rainbow falls hike 01

Description:

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 close by to one of the most popular Adirondack Mountain hiking trails called Indian Head.

Hike difficulty:

This hike is moderatehard.

Height:

Almost 150 feet.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

About 5 miles one way (nearly 10 miles in and out trip, loop options available).

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

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).

2) Rock Garden Falls:

rock garden falls adirondack waterfall hikes

Description:

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:

This hike is very easy.

Height:

Around 50 feet high.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

About 50 feet.

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

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.

3) T Lake Falls:

Description:

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:

T Lake Falls is a moderatedifficult level hike.

Height:

300+ feet high.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

5 miles to reach it, then back to the parking lot (another 5 miles).

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

The closest trail to reach T Lake Falls is by starting at 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.

4) OK Slip Falls:

adirondack mountains ok slip falls hike

Description:

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:

The hike to the waterfall is moderate.

Height:

200+ feet.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

3-4 miles (one way).

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

There is an official OK Slip Falls trailhead where you can start the waterfall hike.

5) Split Rock Falls:

Description:

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:

The hike to Split Rock Falls is moderate (though short).

Height:

There are 2 drops, each about 20 feet high.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

About 100-200 feet.

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

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.

6) High Falls Gorge:

adirondack mountains high falls gorge hike

Description:

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 (The White Mountains) where there is a Lost River Gorge area and Flume Gorge that has similar adventures.

Hike difficulty:

The walk/hike in High Falls Gorge is easy (but can be slippery).

Height:

There are several falls some reaching up to 50 feet.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

It basically starts from the moment you walk on the boardwalk.

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

Northern end of the Adirondack Mountains. Here is a Google map for it.

7) Shelving Rock Falls:

adirondack mountains shelving rock waterfall hike

Description:

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:

About 50 feet.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

A little over 1.5 miles one way.

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

Western side of Lake George. Here is a Google map for it.

8) Beaver Meadow Falls:

beaver meadow falls in adirondack mountains hike

Description:

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:

Over 50 feet high.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

3-4 miles (one way) and it’s an in and out trail.

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

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.

9) Buttermilk Falls:

buttermilk falls in adirondack mountains hike

Description:

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.

Hike difficulty:

Easy.

Height:

About 25 feet high (but over 100 feet wide).

Hiking distance to waterfall:

Less than 1 mile.

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

Here is the location to Buttermilk Falls. Just in case, here are detailed directions to it. It’s basically in the center of the Adirondack Mountains. Also there are other beautiful waterfalls in New York called Buttermilk Falls. One of them is in the Catskill Mountains which also has amazing waterfalls.

10) The Flume Falls:

Description:

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.

Hike difficulty:

Easy.

Height:

30 feet.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

A little over 1 mile (2-3 mile loop).

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

This waterfall hike is south of Wilmington NY and the parking lot is right off road 86. Here is a Google map for Flume Falls and I highly recommend it!

11) Rainbow Falls (Ausable Chasm):

adirondack mountains rainbow falls in ausable chasm hike

Description:

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.

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:

You’ll find this amazing waterfall at Ausable Chasm.

12) Wanika Falls:

Description:

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:

Difficult.

Height:

This waterfall is over 100 feet high and it cascades. I’d also like to add that there is a gigantic waterfall south west of this area) called Buttermilk Falls State Park which has a similar looking falls that’s even larger (it’s in Finger Lakes).

Hiking distance to waterfall:

7-8 miles one way! This is not an easy hike! Know how to not get lost in the woods too if you intend to do this.

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

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:

Description:

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 in the Adirondack Mountains:

Alice Falls is very close to Ausable Chasm. You can through Adirondack Park Preserve road to reach it.

14) Rocky Falls:

Description:

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 or so.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

About 2 to 2.5 miles one way.

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

To get to Rocky Falls, you need to 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!

15) Roaring Brook Falls:

adirondack mountains roaring brook falls hike

Description:

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!

Hiking difficulty:

Moderate.

Height:

It’s between 300-350 feet high.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

A little over 1.5 miles.

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

Guess what? Roaring Brook Falls is actually very close to the same trailhead that goes to Indian Head, but the one here actually goes in a different direction.

16) High Falls:

Description:

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!

Hiking difficulty:

Easy.

Height:

100+ feet.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

About 500 feet (not difficult).

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

It’s basically located at the mid northern end of the Adirondack mountains. It’s absolutely amazing. Here is a Google listing for High Falls.

17) Hanging Spear Falls:

Description:

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:

Difficult.

Height:

70+ feet high.

Hiking distance to waterfall:

5-6 miles one way. There are 2 options to this hike (details coming up).

Location in the Adirondack Mountains:

You can get directions to Hanging Speak Falls here, because it is not an easily accessible location (you have to park far and then hike there).

Recommended gear to take on any of the above waterfall hikes in the Adirondack Mountains:

More questions about Adirondack waterfalls:

How many waterfalls are in the Adirondacks?

There are several 100 waterfalls in the Adirondack Mountains.

More Adirondack waterfalls (and hikes) to come:

These 17 are great to start with and as I mentioned earlier I will add more images (and waterfall hikes) as I discover them but if you are an experienced Adirondack explorer and recommend any other waterfall hikes to add to this list, I’m all for it!

Update: Just explored the Avalanche Lake Adirondacks trail and I love it! Check that out (no waterfalls but it’s an amazing hike).

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2 thoughts on “17 Best Adirondack Waterfall Hikes to go on”

  1. 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!

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply

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