Northern New York Waterfalls 
Northern New York Waterfalls ... High Falls Gorge

High Falls Gorge ... comprised of the Main Falls, Mini Falls, Rainbow Falls and Climax Falls


The High Falls Gorge facility is located at 4761 State Highway 86 in Wilmington, on the highway between the villages of Wilmington and Lake Placid.  It is a very well promoted, highly commercialized site.  You won't be able to miss it!

County: Essex
Town: Wilmington
USGS Map: Lake Placid
Waterway: Ausable River, West Branch
Latitude: N 44o 20' 56" 
Longitude: W 73o 52' 27"
Type: Multiple ribbon falls
Drop: 80'
Region: Between Lake Placid and Wilmington
Parking: Paved lot
Trail type: Dirt
Length of hike: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Accessibility: Business
Name: Official

High Falls Gorge

These falls are located in a very popular tourist attraction area known as the High Falls Gorge.  At first, one might think that it is somewhat ironic that, although it is called High Falls Gorge, and it is comprised of four waterfalls, none of them are named High Falls! 

Technically, that is not the case.  The USGS GNIS lists this area as High Falls.  Officially, this is considered one waterfall ... High Falls.  Older topographical maps show this.  These falls are basically four steps through this gorge.  They literally flow one into the next.  The reason for four names is probably commercial.  It sounds more impressive to pay to see four waterfalls rather than just one!

When you arrive, you must enter through the gift shop area and pay an entrance fee to access the gorge itself.  Because of this, access is limited to business hours which vary depending upon time of year and day of the week.  The adult admission in 2013 was $10.95.  To the hiker/waterfall lover, this price may appear to be a bit steep.  What you get is a 1/2 mile round-trip over well maintained trails, stairs and bridges.  There are several informational signs describing the local geology.  It is one of only a few Adirondack locations where you will have to pay to see the waterfalls.  The fee, however, is worth it, because you can't physically see the falls if the facility is closed and without the walkways and paths, accessing this site would be dangerous and perhaps impossible.

We had previously posted on this website that only one of the pamphlets we picked up when we were there in 2011 identified the falls by name.  That trail map indicated three falls; Main, Mini and Climax. Promotional information found elsewhere noted three falls, but they are Main, Rainbow and Climax.   When we returned in 2013, new brochures were available and they now identify four waterfalls.

Coming downstream you first encounter the Main Falls, a 35' drop.  This falls almost immediately into the 5' Mini Falls.  After a short pool is Rainbow Falls, which falls 20'.  This can be confusing because there are two other Rainbow Falls on the Ausable River.  One of them is on the East Branch and the other further downstream after the two branches converge.  Just below Rainbow is the final drop, Climax Falls.  This is another drop of  20' or so.  Please note that these measurements are estimates because the promotional material gained there do not provide this information.

The Ausable River West Branch joins forces with the East Branch in Ausable Forks.  The combined Ausable River empties into Lake Champlain in the town of Peru.

Note:  This area has also been referred to as the Ausable River Falls.

Last update:  July 27, 2015

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