Rainbow Falls is one of eight well-known waterfalls on the South
Branch of the Grasse River which are fairly easy to access from
the Tooley Pond Road. This road connects CR 27 in the hamlet of Degrasse to NY
3 near Cranberry Lake. Like many of the falls on this road,
it is on DEC maintained state land, accessible to the public.
It is also possible to reach this location from the Route 3 end
but our information details access from the north.
Be careful as you approach this trailhead, which is marked by
four large rocks/small boulders to block motorized vehicles from
entering. There are a couple of significant changes here
that we discovered on our last visit in July 2017. First
of all, there has been a sign indicating "Rainbow Falls".
It is gone! Also, there used to be a clearing here.
Brush and other growth has made it less obvious so you need to
look for the boulders. The hike is just under 1/4 mile down a fairly well maintained path
that takes you to a
The river goes around an island at this point and you will encounter
some rapids and at least two small waterfalls on the front side of the island beneath a footbridge.
Cross the bridge and continue walking on the path until you see
Rainbow is actually the second most popular waterfall name in
northern New York. This one, one of two in St. Lawrence County,
is also known as Large Marge to the whitewater community.
The falls drop into a narrow but fairly deep gorge. I almost
felt like I was at Niagara in the Maid of the Mist because of the
spray, just on a smaller scale. When we were there in early
November, even though temps were well above freezing, ice was forming
on the edges of the rocks. If you are there during spring
run-off, there is so much power to the water coming through that
you are going to get wet standing on the edge of the gorge.
These falls got their name because rainbows form in the mist
on sunny days.
The Grass River flows into the St. Lawrence River in Massena,
in St. Lawrence County.
Note: Depending upon which map or sign you are using, this
river is referred to as either Grasse or Grass. Officially
it is Grass.
Last update: July 8, 2017