Waterfalls - 11 min read

15 Best Waterfalls in the Adirondacks (Tallest & Most Beautiful)

Sheryl Cooper

Sheryl Cooper, Updated September 25, 2022

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When people want to relieve their everyday stress, they often seek out nature. Taking a hike into the forest and sitting at a waterfall can be quite tranquil and nourishing.

A trip to the Adirondack Park of New York can connect you back to nature simply by visiting one of the area’s many waterfalls. The Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) is a magnificent place to explore, where you’ll discover beautiful waterfalls and hiking trails.

You have to access some trails via the private Ausable Club in AMR. However, there is an easement agreement that allows you to travel through. It is important to note to be mindful of private property and stay on the trail.

A vacation or day trip to upstate New York isn’t complete without at least one waterfall destination. Time to marvel at Earth’s greatest treasures.

Stunning Waterfalls In The Adirondack Mountains

1. OK Slip Falls


Ranked the tallest in the Adirondack region, OK Slip Falls drops 250 feet into Hudson Gorge. Its free-falling cascade is enormous. 
Taking the 6-mile roundtrip hike into the forest where nature doesn’t disappoint is a breathtaking pathway.

Walking upon a mix of dirt and boardwalk makes this trail an easy walk, but it is geared to intermediate and expert hikers. Be sure to look up to enjoy the shaded canopies of hardwood beech trees, sugar maples, spruce, and pines.

You’ll be led to a scenic lookout at the base of the falls. The trail is pretty all year long, especially on snow shoes during winter. Try to find a parking spot early in the Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area lot because OK Slip Falls is a popular area to visit.

Address: NY-28, Indian Lake, NY 12842
Fee: Free

2. Stag Brook Falls


Within the Adirondack Mountain area, Stag Brook Falls is located at the ski resort, Whiteface Mountain Ski Center. It has a 60-foot drop with a broad base and flows into the Ausable River.

You’ll follow an out-and-back trail (1.3 miles) to reach Stag Brook. However, it is pretty tricky being uphill and relatively rocky. The trail hike is accessible to hikers during spring, summer, and fall.

Spend a few hours on the trail exploring Stag Brook and eventually the waterfall. The trail leads you to the base. But to study the entirety of Stag Brook Falls, continue and climb Stag Brook Trail.

Here you will observe the breadth of the falls with the rushing water and serene landscape. Tucked between two ski runs, you’ll love being a part of upstate New York.

Address: 5021 NY 86, Wilmington, NY 12997
Fee: Free

3. Shelving Rock Falls


Located on the eastern part of Lake George, Shelving Rock Falls takes a 50-foot plunge into Lake George. T
rekking to these cascades is perfect for beginner hikers and takes you through the picturesque Lake George area.

Park your car in Lot 4 of the Lake George Wild Forest where you will locate the Shelving Rock Falls trailhead. You can also dock at 17 Log Bay to access the trail.

Whether you boat into Log Bay or drive to gather at the Shelving Rock Falls trailhead, you’ll reach the striking staircase-like waterfall in about 15 minutes. On the way, families love discovering the geocaches and a beaver dam.

Hot summer days welcome a swim at the bottom of Shelving Rock Falls (bring a swimsuit). Veer off the main path to reach Shelving Rock Summit, which leads you to a pretty and incredible view of Lake George.

Address: Lake George Wild Forest, Shelving Rock Rd., Fort Ann, NY 12827
Fee: Free

4. Split Rock Falls


Living up to its name, the 30-foot Split Rock Falls cascades over three levels and two pools.
You’ll notice the large boulder that separates or splits the water flow.

Found on the Bouquet River, Split Rock Falls is a favorite one to visit in the Adirondack Mountains. Bring your bathing suit in your backpack – you’ll want to swim in the refreshing pool at the base.

Exit 30 and follow Route 9 past the bridge where you will find parking. The quickest way to reach the waterfall is by hiking the 1-mile Split Rock Falls Short Loop. Although short, the hike tends to lean strenuous.

From steep climbs and descents to rocky ledges and terrain, the trail is worth hiking to reach the falls. Experienced hikers suggest using caution on this trail.

Address: Elizabethtown, NY 12964
Fee: There is an entrance fee. Prices vary.

5. Bushnell Falls

Credit: Allan Beaufour / Flickr

Eastern High Peaks Wilderness captivates its visitors with the splendid Bushnell Falls, a waterfall dropping 20 feet on John’s Brook. Bushnell configures upon a gorge set between steep rock walls, cutting through a slab of bedrock.

Hikers and nature enthusiasts come here for a respite, especially during autumn when the red, gold, and yellow leaves peak. You’ll use Garden Trailhead to see Bushnell Falls.

It is a 3-mile hike as you head down into Johns Brook Valley and another almost 2 miles to the Bushnell Falls basin. Swimming in nature’s pool is a fun waterfall activity during summer.

Address: NY-73, Keene Valley, NY 12943
Fee: $10 parking fee

6. Beaver Meadow Falls

Credit: Hank Bickel / Flickr


Plunging 20 feet, the mighty Beaver Meadows Falls is defined as a ribbon cascade.
It is a tall free-fall drop over the ledge into the Ausable River. Beaver Meadows Falls is breathtaking and picture-taking worthy.

You’ll hike into a remote forest of the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area to get there. This trail is part of the private Ausable Club. An easement makes it possible to access Beaver Meadows Falls.

Start on the paved trail and continue until you walk on the dirt trail. You will cross a bridge directly to the waterfall on the dirt trail.

Upon reaching Beaver Meadow Falls, walk a little further on the dirt trail to check out the lower part of Ausable Lake where the mountains are astounding.

Address: Route 73, Keene Valley, NY 12943
Fee: Free. Visitors are required to make a reservation at https://www.hikeamr.org/ May 1 – Oct. 31.

7. Buttermilk Falls


Buttermilk Falls is gorgeous any time of the year. Its “foaming” wide cascade, just like buttermilk, drops 25 feet on the Raquette River.

From Route 28 toward Blue Mountain Lake, you can find parking on North Point Road, where the trailhead is located. The short trail is only .2 miles in and out.

The easy walk makes it convenient for an adventure day with the family, and some visitors bring along their dogs. Find a spot to picnic, take photos or hang out as the water tumbles down the multiple boulders and shelves.

Summer is a great time to grab a front-row seat on one of the boulders. In winter, the waterfall puts on a beautiful show with unique icicles that form on the rocks. The trail also allows for snow-shoeing.

Address: North Point Rd., Long Lake, NY 12847
Fee: Free

8. The Flume Fall


One of the best destinations in the Adirondacks is the 60-foot Flume Fall (aka Wilmington Flume)
. Located along the Ausable River’s West Branch, the majestic waterfall has several water levels plummeting effortlessly.

To access this waterfall, you’ll hike into the beautiful Adirondacks on Flume Trail, a 2.4-mile loop. The trailhead, which can be found off Route 86, isn’t marked. You’ll find parking 1-mile after the entrance to Whiteface Mountain.

Previous visitors assure you will see a downhill dirt road (map coordinates: 44.365793, -73.840914). Keep listening for the raging waters, stay on the trail hugging the river, and you’ll know you are close.

From downstream, you’ll witness the power and impact of The Flume Fall as it rushes through the tall rock walls.

Address: Route 86, Wilmington, NY 12997
Fee: Free

9. Hanging Spear Falls

Credit: Phil Gogol / Flickr

Hanging Spear Falls is impressive at 75 feet high. Plummeting upon the Opalescent River, the waterfall is best characterized by its hourglass shape. 

To get there, find two one-way hikes on the Calamity Brook Trail. Both are considered challenging. The 6-mile route takes you to Flowed Lands, an outlet to Hanging Spear. The 7-mile one includes a steep hike up to the waterfall.

Address: CR 25 in Adirondack State Park, NY
Fee: Free

10. Falls on Northwest Bay Brook

Credit: Northern New York Waterfalls

Waterfall lovers can see the upper and lower Falls on Northwest Bay Brook near Lake George, one of New York state’s most beautiful recreational and resort areas.

Truly a hidden gem, the Falls can be found by traveling on Route 9 North toward Bolton Landing. Cross the bridge over the brook and park on the road. You’ll see the trail across the street.

The upper waterfall drops 25 feet and is classified as a traditional cascade. The gushing water is a steep fall, but then ultimately, the 8-foot flume chutes through the gorge, which is considered the lower falls.

For the best view of the upper waterfall, take the dirt trail until you reach the road. Go through the gate and follow the footpath. Take precautions when viewing upper falls – there are slippery rocks along the brook.

Address: Lake Shore Dr., Bolton Landing, NY 12814
Fee: n/a

11. Lampson Falls


Lampson Falls is another gorgeous waterfall in the Adirondacks. If you’re looking for a waterfall excursion, this one is it. It’s a perfect destination when you want to spend a day in the forest.

Lampson Falls roars loudly at 40 feet high and 100 feet wide as the highest waterfall in St. Lawrence County. Before heading in you can park roadside on County Route 27, 4 miles north of Degrasse.

It’s a .5-mile walk in Grass River Wild Forest to the rushing waters, which can be heard from the trailhead. Guests favor this waterfall for its proximity to parking and accessibility, including wheelchair access.

Lampson is a gathering place for local St. Lawrence College students. Dogs are also allowed. The easy walk takes you to the base of Lampson Falls, where you will find places to picnic and a small beach. Swimming is encouraged.

Address: County Road 115, Clare, NY 12726
Fee: Free

12. Rainbow Falls


Rainbow Falls surges 150 feet into the canyon below.
Located in the High Peaks within the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR), an easement allows adventurers to pass through.

Rainbows are especially easy to find here. As the sun does its magic reflecting against the gushing water along the rock wall, get your camera ready to capture the gorgeous colors.

You’ll find parking on Route 73 across from where you enter to the trail. The accessible and popular Gorge Trail is about 1.5 miles. Hike through the deep gorge and you will ultimately discover both Rainbow Falls and Triple Cascade.

Address: Giant Mountain Wilderness Area, St. Huberts, NY
Fee: $10 per car

13. Wanika Falls

Credit: brugger1982 / Flickr

Getting to Wanika Falls in Lake Placid is no easy task. The 14 mile hike is a big commitment; when you reach the 150-foot waterfall, you’ll be glad you did.

Parking is available along Averyville Rd. Start the day early on the Northville-Placid Trail, an out-and-back hike. It’s a challenging trek, so come prepared. The trail follows Chubb River, where Wanika Falls resides.

Once you arrive, take notice of the plunging waters. The upper part of the falls has a ribbon-like cascade, and its lower is more of a curtain cascade.

Address: NYS R73, North Elba, NY
Fee: Free

14. High Falls Gorge


High Falls Gorge is a nature park and a convenient waterfall mecca. This park makes it easy for the family to see some of the magnificent elements of the Adirondacks in one day.

The High Falls Gorge waterfall tour takes you on a 1-mile loop hike throughout the park. While geared toward all age groups, the nature trail features stairs amidst a gravel path full of some climbs and uneven terrain.

With unlimited views of waterfalls, foaming waters, summer wildflowers, and the beautiful autumn colors of the leaves turning, the visit looks different each time.

Visitors follow along the trail and through the gorge to watch each waterfall. No two waterfalls look alike. Main Falls, Mini Falls and Climax Falls each have their own unique formations.

Address: 4761 NY-86, Wilmington, NY 12997
Fee: $14.50 per adult 13 years and older. $10.50 per child 4 to 12 years old

15. Fairy Ladder Falls

Credit: Northern New York Waterfalls

Fairy Ladder Falls, the name alone sounds magical. Classified as a staircase cascade, this waterfall has a dramatic 90-foot drop into Gill Brook.

You can visit this waterfall by parking off of NY 73. Walk Lake Road from the AMR guard gate to Gill Brook Trail. Set in the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area, you’ll hike to the waterfall.

This hike is 4.6 miles back and forth along Gill Brook. The last .2 miles are fairly overgrown with bushwhack. Once you land at the bottom of the falls, you’ll have a lovely view.

Address: Giant Mountain Wilderness Area, St. Huberts, NY
Fee: n/a

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