Northern New York Waterfalls 

Shelving Rock Falls


Take Exit 20 from I-87 and go north on US 9 for 1/2 mile.  Take a right on NY 149 and travel for 6.0 miles.  At that point, turn left on the Buttermilk Falls Road.  This will end at a point where you merge left on the Sly Pond Road.  About 3.1 miles from this corner, you will reach a fork where you should bear left.  In another 0.8 mile, there is another fork where you should bear right.  In another 2.6 miles, bear left at the next fork.  A little more than 2.3 miles from here, take the right fork.  A short distance from here, you will come down a hill and cross Shelving Rock Brook.  A sign on your left indicates "Shelving Rock Falls 0.4 miles".  Continue up the hill and there is a parking area on the left.

County: Washington
Town: Fort Ann
USGS Map: Shelving Rock
Waterway: Shelving Rock Brook
Latitude: N 43° 33' 11"
Longitude: W 73° 36' 09"
Drop: 75'
Type: Classical cascade
Region: Off NY 149 west of Fort Ann
Parking: Unpaved parking area
Trail type: Dirt
Length of hike: 0.4 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Accessibility: Public
Name: Common

Putnam Mt. Quadrangle

Shelving Rock FallsFrom the parking area, walk back down the road about 0.1 mile to the trailhead.  It is actually 0.3 mile in to the top of the falls, another 0.1 mile or so to the base but well worth the walk.  Most of the trail is dirt, but after about 100 feet or so, the trail goes through a section of about 50' that is cobble rocks and looks like it is part of the river bed.  It is likely that during high water, this could be under water.  As for the waterfall, it is a beauty.  It is something like you'd expect after a significant Adirondack hike.

At the top of the falls there is a concrete abutment.  We're not sure what it is, why it is there or how long it has been there.  There are no signs of a former mill or anything of that nature.  Although it does hold the level of the water above the falls a bit higher, it really has no impact on the waterfall overall.  The water drops about two feet after coming over this and then begins its plunge down the top of this waterfall. The upper part drops about eight feet and then slides about 15' to the main cascade.  Although not a free-fall, this is a fairly vertical plunge.

From this crest, there is a trail that takes you down a section of natural rock steps to the base of the falls and right into the creek.  Below this main drop, the channel winds around and continues to drop.  The first two drops are pretty little plunges.  The second of these would be a nice little waterfall on its own.  Below here are several more small steps.  The level of the creek probably drops another 50 or so feet through this section.

This entire area has many DEC signs and is a wilderness camping area.  We were amazed at, despite the remoteness of this region, the traffic we saw while here.  By the way, if you like to listen to music when you travel, local radio stations are the order of the day here.  The satellite radio didn't receive anything during most of this drive!

Shelving Rock Brook empties into Lake George.  The water from this then flows through La Chute into Lake Champlain.  The flow then goes north through Canada on the Richelieu River and empties into the St. Lawrence River.

In a side note:  You travel on the Buttermilk Falls Road to get to this location.  There is a Buttermilk Falls somewhere in this area, but it is on private property and is not accessible.

Another side note:  We had information that there is a 25 foot waterfall visible from the road about 1.2 miles before you reach the parking area.  Actually, a number of small falls can be seen as you make your trip in here.  You are on the side of a mountain here and the creek running somewhat parallel to the road was actually one waterfall after another for the best part of a mile or so along here.

Last update:  August 26, 2017

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