"Where wilderness meets water"
"High Falls" & High Falls Loop Trail
"Five Ponds Wilderness Area"
Sign on NYS HWY 3 to Inlet location
Bridge at Inlet
Bridge at Inlet
Oswegatchie River at Inlet
Lean to on the River
High Falls Loop Map
Click an image for an expanded view
High Falls is a small but picturesque waterfall on the upper "Oswegatchie River" in the "Five Ponds Wilderness".
At the falls, the Oswegatchie flows northwest over glaciated granite bedrock, surrounded by virgin growth white pine forest. Some of the Oldest in the Adirondack park, and all of New York State.
Access to high falls can be obtained by canoe/kayak, by launching your vessel at the "Inlet" (the most popular and direct route), which is located just a few miles outside of the village of "Wanakena", and the village of "Star Lake"
(along a dirt road off from NYS HWY 3) and paddling up stream along the river.
by a series of maintained hiking trails, known as "the High falls loop".
High Falls Loop Trail
This trail loop, is described in a counterclockwise direction of travel. This by no means is a recommendation for course of travel; it can be done in either direction. The High Falls loop is designated as a 2 to 3 day overnight excursion with a total of 18.0 miles in total. From the trailhead you will be on a very flat railroad grade with wet sections due to beaver activity. The wet sections are small and some years much less, it really does depend on the beaver. Eventually you will come to an area where you can see the Oswegatchie River off in thedistance through the trees. High Rock comes soon after with an outstanding overlook above the river. You could camp here is you wanted there are some excellent spots. The trail continues with the river to your right and at about 4.5 miles from High Rockyouu will come to the Five Ponds Trail and Bridge to your right, pass this by and continue to the left. Staying flat and after a couple more creek crossings you will come to the side trail to High Falls. High Falls is 0.4 miles away. This is about the half-way point and an excellent spot to spend the night either in a lean-to or tent. Back at the main loop you will have a slight climb and then gentle trail along the base of Threemile Mountain.
At under 4-miles from camp you will come to a side trail up
A "Top 10 Area Favorite Hiking Destination"
which is highly worth the effort to visit if you have anything left in your tank.
Continue on a flat course with a couple light sections of downhill and pass by the side trail to Janacks Landing. This is also an excellent place to camp if you wanted to extend your outing. From here the trail staysvery flat with only a slight change in elevation, along another old railroad grade. You will come out about 0.5 miles from your car, a bit further up South Shore Road.
Not reccomended for families with young children as a "Full loop hike" due to the distance.
But in mutiple partial section hikes it may be an option.
From the intersection of Route 3 and CR61 (Wanakena Road) follow CR61 and stay straight on the main road to South Shore Road. Follow South Shore Road for around 0.25miles to the trailhead parking on the right. You will have to walk back up the road for a couple hundred feet to the road on the left and walk this to its end, which is about 0.1 miles.
Additional Important Information:
Do this hike as an overnight especially in Winter conditions. Hike, ski or snowshoe only in part for a shorter trip.
In Winter, skiiing or snowshoeing over a frozen body of water is a hiking past time; it can access you to areas not seen by most in the summer. With that being said it is a dangerous activity to cross frozen water bodies and should be done with care and respect for your environment. Know the ice conditions and be prepared for anything including heavy winds, snow drifts, whiteouts, slushy conditions, and thin ice.
Trail uses: Hiking, Snowshoeing, XC ski,
River- Canoe, Kayak