It’s drama time for our rivers, creeks, and streams. Melted snow and spring rains have filled their banks to capacity. They are putting on quite a show as they race down the mountains and into the valley, all in a hurry to reach Lake Champlain. It’s my favorite time of year to go out on a waterfall watch and see the fantastic displays. I find moving water mesmerizing; I love the sounds and the sparkle as it splashes onward. Here are some of my favorite waterfalls that you, too, will not want to miss.
1. The Ausable River
The Ausable River has artistically created the oldest natural tourist attraction in the United States. Ausable Chasm is a natural wonder and will have you entranced while admiring its waterfalls. You will easily understand why this attraction has had more than 10 million visitors. Rainbow Falls, visible from the chasm’s Waterfall Walk, is incredibly impressive and beautiful, but there are actually several more falls to see within the chasm. The river has wound through this sandstone gorge for thousands of years creating some dramatic natural sculptures on its way. Miles of trails within the chasm will allow you to examine every aspect of the river and its activities from every angle. Ausable Chasm is open year round for a wide variety of seasonal experiences, but spring is my favorite time to visit.
Find this attraction on Route 9, north of the Village of Keeseville.
2. The Boquet River
The Boquet River’s Split Rock Falls in the Town of Elizabethtown is another special waterfall to add to your list. This waterfall drops approximately 40 feet over a series of three large steps. Find the falls on Route 9 headed out of Elizabethtown, about 2.5 miles before intersecting with Route 73. There is a paved parking area and the falls are visible after a short walk on a dirt trail. You will hear them as you approach. This is a beautiful set of waterfalls in a picture-perfect Adirondack setting. It is a popular swimming spot with the locals on hot, sunny days, but can a powerful sight this time of year.
3. Willsboro Falls
Further downstream, also on the Boquet, is Willsboro Falls within the Town of Willsboro. Though certainly not as steep as the falls at Ausable Chasm, nor as quaint and secluded as Split Rock Falls, Willsboro Falls does have its own captivating personality. The river is wider here, approximately 100 feet. Overall the drop of the falls is probably 20-25 feet. A great viewing site is found not far from the center of town. Traveling north on Route 22, through town center, go straight onto Gilliland Lane before crossing the river. An anglers’ parking lot will be found a few hundred feet ahead on your left. Obvious trails and footpaths lead to rocky outcrops for the best viewing. While in Willsboro visit the Willsboro Heritage Center Museum, also on Gilliland Lane, where you can learn about this town’s colorful past and get the inside information on the river and the historical Adsit Cabin.
4. The LaChute River
Though I hate to play “favorites” among rivers, I have to admit that I am a major fan of this powerful little river that takes northern Lake George waters and descends them to Lake Champlain. The LaChute may be small in length, only 3.5- to 4-miles long, but it certainly is mighty. This little river drops over 200 feet in about half of its length; envision an elongated Niagara Falls. You could say this river actually built the Town of Ticonderoga, or at least it is responsible for where the town located and developed. Mills, factories, and related industries all wanted to harness the forceful energy the LaChute waters carried. To learn all about the why and how Ticonderoga did this, you need to make a visit to the Ticonderoga Heritage Museum. The museum is located at the entrance to Bicentennial Park at the eastern end of Montcalm Street. There, interpretive displays, exhibits, and knowledgeable staff will explain it all. The force of this powerful river is still used in making electrical energy today.
There is plenty of interpretive signage along the LaChute River Walk Trail that will help further your understanding. This trail clings to the banks of the LaChute, from its beginning at Lake George to the end of the main street, Montcalm, in downtown Ticonderoga. It then loops through the park for great viewing of the final falls.
LaChute River Walk Trail can be accessed from numerous locations along its route. Footing is a part-paved, part-gravel path and at times makes use of the natural ledge rock flanking the river. The river itself is not just one waterfall, but rather a collection of falls and rapids ending with the “grand finale,” Bicentennial Falls, a beautiful, dramatic and fascinating focal point of the park. You will gain an appreciation and respect for the power of water along the trail merely by witnessing its course over rocky outcrops and through formerly used penstocks. There are several great vantage points, viewing areas, and benches to allow you to pause and thoroughly enjoy the performance. Though the trail meanders through the residential community and the downtown, it really is in a world all its own. The voice of the rushing water, riverside vegetation, and resident wildlife push all awareness of community life aside. It provides a natural refuge with amenities mere steps away.
Hurry! Make plans to visit and enjoy our waterfalls while they're at their peak!
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