Northern New York Waterfalls 

Rainbow Falls, within the Adirondack Mountain Reserve

Directions

Located on NYS Route 73, this site is just south of the hamlet of Saint Huberts, which is on the stretch between the village of Keene Valley and the northern intersection of routes 73 and 9.  Look for the signs for the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area.  The parking area for AMR is directly across the road.

County: Essex
Town: Keene
USGS Map: Mt Marcy
Waterway: Cascade Brook
Latitude: N 44o 7' 7"
Longitude: W 73o 49' 28"
Drop: 150'
Type: Ribbon cascade
Region: off NY 73 near the hamlet of St. Huberts
Parking: Unpaved lot
Trail type: Dirt/rock
Length of hike: 0.8 miles beyond Beaver Meadows Falls
Difficulty: Intense
Accessibility: Access by easement
Name: official

Keene Quadrangle

Please refer to our page for the general information on The Adirondack Mountain Reserve.  This waterfall is located within that facility.

Rainbow Falls is about 0.8 mile beyond Beaver Meadow Falls but the hike will probably take you close to an hour.  Whereas the West River Trail up to this point has been well marked and well-worn, that isn't always the case for some of the rest of the walk.  Most of this trail has been fairly close to the river, usually within sight of it, but part of this portion veers away from the water.   There will be a few instances where you will wonder if you are still on the trail.  It isn't always obvious where the trail goes and at times, the markers are few and far between.  There is a stretch of hundreds of yards where you are hiking along the base of a sheer rock canyon wall.  There are many places in the Adirondacks more remote than where you are headed, but you are getting there!

When you regain sight of the river, you actually find yourself along a very calm stretch of the Ausable.  It's almost like you walked into another region.  The last 3 miles of the Ausable has been a constant drop, one waterfall or set of rapids after another, with very few calm patches.  The calm here is almost surreal.  It is also refreshing to realize that you are almost there!

Eventually you will see the dam at Lower Ausable Lake and a footbridge over the Ausable before it.  Veer to the right where you will find another footbridge over the brook containing Rainbow Falls.  A sign on the other end of this footbridge points you to Rainbow Falls, which is only 0.1 mile away.  From this point, there are actually a number of signs pointing you toward Rainbow.

Rainbow is the most distant waterfall on the West River Trail, our fifth and final stop.  This waterfall is quite beautiful.  The water is pouring off the top of a sheer rock wall and does a head-long free-fall for what is reported to be about 150 feet into a pool in the canyon below.  We were there in mid-spring and really couldn't reach the base because there was still a lot of snow and ice build-up.

After enjoying Rainbow Falls, you should re-trace your steps to the dam and footbridge at the base of Lower Ausable Lake and cross to the other side.  You can either take a left at the end of the bridge to access the East River Trail or climb the hill to the Lake Road.  The quickest and most direct path back to your vehicle, or to the trailhead of Artists Falls, if you choose to do that this trip, is to take the road.

one final note:  Rainbow is actually the second most common name of a waterfall in northern New York, behind High Falls.  Don't confuse this one with the other Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm, High Falls Gorge, on the Chateaugay River, on the Salmon River and on the Grasse River in the town of Clare.

The East Branch of the Ausable River joins forces with the west branch downstream at Au Sable Forks to form the Ausable River.  This waterfall rich river empties into Lake Champlain in the town of Peru.

Last update:  July 29, 2015

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