Have you ever dreamt of exploring a deep gorge or beautiful waterfalls? If yes, then you should visit the High Falls Gorge near the town of Lake Placid in New York State. The falls are located along the west branch of the Ausable River, and they flow over a sheer cliff that drops down to the river below. People from all around the world come to enjoy the beauty of these natural wonders here and in the surrounding mountains.
This stunning location is part of the vast Adirondack Park National Historic Landmark, which covers over 6 million acres of land. This area was once home to Native Americans, and the name is thought to have originated with the Mohawk word ‘ha-de-ron-dah’ meaning ‘eaters of trees.’ They did not use any form of writing at the time, so many different spellings came from sounding out the word.
Today, the Adirondack Park offers visitors a wide range of activities such as hiking, fishing, boating, camping, hunting, and horseback riding.
People from all walks of life love visiting this place because of its breathtaking scenery. There are some amazing views to see, and the waterfalls are truly remarkable. The waterfalls in the High Falls Gorge have become a tourist attraction in itself, attracting thousands of visitors every year.
Why should you plan to visit the High Falls Gorge when there are millions of acres of wild backcountry to explore? This is a great outdoor place to enjoy with the whole family, young and old alike. With easy access on well-cared-for pathways, the High Falls Gorge is a great way to spend a couple of hours exploring near Whiteface Mountain.
Where is the High Falls Gorge?
This developed waterfall attraction can be found between the towns of Lake Placid and Wilmington, New York. This is right in the heart of the Adirondacks region of mountainous upstate New York.
How to Get to the High Falls Gorge from Lake Placid
The High Falls Gorge is located about eight miles from the village of Lake Placid on NY-86. Head out of town on NY-86 East and drive towards Wilmington.
If driving on this road away from Lake Placid and you come across the Whiteface Mountain ski resort facilities, you’ve gone too far!
You can reach the High Falls Gorge by car from Lake Placid in about 10 minutes. You will see the parking area and visitors center on the left side of the road.
Fees for Entry
As this is privately owned land, there are fees for entry to the High Falls Gorge.
Fees are dependent on the season. During the summer season, admission for guests 13 and older is currently $13 per person.
During the winter months, entrance costs $14.50. During these months, the park does provide traction devices for you to wear on your shoes or boots to help improve walking on the icy footpaths.
Check out the High Falls Gorge on TripAdvisor!
Hours of Operation
Hours of operation at the High Falls Gorge also vary, depending on the season in which you visit.
During the summer months, usually from May to October, the park’s trails and gift shop are open from 9:00 to 4:30 every day.
From mid-December to March, you can explore from 9:00 to 4:00 every day except Wednesdays and Thursdays.
There are two stretches, typically during the spring and early winter, where the facilities are closed for about 6 weeks. During this time, maintenance and upkeep is performed.
The gorge is also closed on the Easter and Christmas holidays.
Be sure to check with the High Falls Gorge prior to your visit to ensure there aren’t any unexpected changes or variations to this schedule.
Exploring and Photographing the High Falls Gorge
Although the path to explore along the waterfalls and gorge is only about half of a mile long, you should plan around an hour to explore.
There are 22 acres of land that can be explored!
You’ll want to be able to take as many photographs as you please and absorb some of the natural beauty.
Thre are plenty of benches along the path leading to the gorge, so even those with some mobility difficulty could enjoy parts of the experience, too.
In addition to the suspended walkway and trail through the gorge, there is a one-mile hiking trail through the woods, where you can explore this very bottom part of Whiteface Mountain.
This is not an extremely difficult trail, but if you’re looking to explore more, certainly check it out!
If you have younger children who are newer to hiking, this could be a great spot to explore and introduce them to the outdoors.
In total, if you plan to explore all of the trails on the grounds, plan to set aside a couple of hours for this waterfall park.
To begin exploring the High Falls Gorge, you’ll enter through the gift shop, where you must purchase tickets for those in your party. Then, you’ll be pointed in the direction of a door where you’ll exit the gift shop and cross the river, to the wide walking trails leading to the suspended bridges and walkways through the gorge.
You’ll want to walk the entire length of the suspended platform pathways through the gorge and see each of the four waterfalls from every angle possible.
Head down the gorge pathway to the far end of the park to the bridge that crosses the Ausable River. Be sure to stop as you walk across and look back up towards the waterfalls. Appreciate the power of nature as the river has eroded some of the rock walls away underneath.
Be sure to wear secure footwear, as you’ll be navigating some stairs to get the best views. The one-mile nature trail also has some steep inclines, so flip-flops are probably not the best shoe choice for this park!
Other Waterfalls near Whiteface and Lake Placid
After you’ve finished exploring the High Falls Gorge, there are plenty of other waterfalls and places to explore nearby.
Just a few minutes away at the Whiteface Mountain ski resort, near the ski lift, you can find a short trail to Stag Brook Falls. You’ll have to hike just a little distance up one of the blue-level ski slopes to find this one.
Travel a little further past the ski area on Route 86 towards the Whiteface Memorial Drive and you’ll see a small parking area on the lefthand side of the road, where you can stop to explore the Flume Falls trail system. Hike as little or as much as you’d like for beautiful scenery along the river and through the forests.
There are plenty of other areas to hike and explore throughout the High Peaks and lakeside areas near Lake Placid. In addition to hiking, there are other things to do near Lake Placid, too. No matter what your interests are, there is something for everyone.
Just get out and get going!