High Falls Loop
High Falls is on the Oswegatchie River in the northwestern Adirondacks. From the 15-mile High Falls Loop, it is 0.5 miles off the southern boundary of the loop. The falls are not that tall, but wonderfully lively.
High Falls Loop Trail (red) extends 15 miles between the Dead Creek Flow trailhead and High Falls trailhead, which are only 0.4 miles apart on South Shore Road. There is a 220-foot change of elevation in the 0.7 miles between Janack's Landing Trail and the Cowhorn Junction Trail. There is also a 170-foot difference in elevation in a 1.2-mile stretch along Skate Creek. Otherwise the trail is fairly flat.
From the intersection of Route 3 and Route 30 in the village of Tupper Lake, follow Route 3 toward Cranberry Lake. Follow Route 3 for 33.4 miles to CR61 (Wanakena Road) on the left. Turn left here and stay straight on the main road to South Shore Road. Follow South Shore Road for around 0.25 miles to the trailhead parking on the right. You will have to walk back up the road for a couple hundred feet to the road on the left and walk this to its end, which is about 0.1 miles.
Distance Round Trip
Elevation Gain or Loss
Time Round Trip
Family with Young Kids: Not recommended
Experienced Hiker: This is a 2 to 3 day backpacking loop
Out of Shape Hiker: Not Recommended
There are two High Falls lean-tos on the banks of the Oswegatchie River, near the end of a 0.4 mile spur trail off the High Falls Loop Trail.
Janacks Landing lean-to is on the southeastern shore of Dead Creek Flow. Access it from the water or via the 0.2-mile spur trail.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
From the trailhead you will be on a very flat trail with Skate Creek on your left. This section of trail is part of an old railroad grade, so its terrain is very flat. You cross over Skate Creek a couple times with no issues and enter an attractive hardwood forest before a wide tributary of the Oswegatchie River opens up the terrain again to your right.
This loop is described in a counterclockwise direction of travel; this by no means is the best course of attack, either direction is fine. From the trailhead you will be on a very flat kick and glide terrain along an old railroad grade (no ties) with Skate Creek on your left. This area can have wet sections due to beaver activity.
The flat trail continues and eventually you will come to an area where you can see the Oswegatchie River off in the distance through the trees. High Rock comes soon after with an outstanding overlook above the river. The trail continues along, with the river to your right and never too far away. About 4.5 miles from High Rock you will come to the Five Ponds Trail and bridge to your right, pass this by and continue to the left. After a couple more creek crossings you will come to the side trail to High Falls, just 0.4 miles away. This is about the half-way point and an excellent spot to spend the night. Stay in the lean-to which should be open or pitch a tent for a bit of added warmth.
The following day you will ski back out to Wanakena by heading right at the previous intersection. From here you will have a slight climb and then follow along the base of Threemile Mountain. Just under four miles from camp you will come to a side trip up Cat Mountain, which is highly worth it if you have the time and energy.
Continue on a flat course with a couple light sections of downhill and pass by the side trail to Janacks Landing. This is also an excellent place to camp if you wanted to make it a two-night outing. From here the trail stays very flat with only a slight change in elevation. You will come out about 0.5 miles from your car, a bit further up South Shore Road. Walk the roadside back to your car.
Distance Round Trip
18.0 miles, Loop
Approximate Time Round Trip
Families with Kids: Not recommended as a full loop, partial sections from either end are good for a day trip.
Experienced snowshoers and skiers: Usually done as a two day, overnight excursion.
Out of shape snowshoers and skiers: Not recommended as a full loop, partial sections from either end are good for a day trip.