Late summer is a great time for hiking in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains, with all those nuisance early-summer black flies mostly gone on to greater rewards.
It’s a good time of year for hiking to spots like OK Slip Falls, where there’s a new trail. The legendary 250-foot waterfall in the Hudson Gorge was off-limits to the public for more than a century until the state acquired it last year.
The trail to a ridge overlooking OK Slip Falls is bringing new popularity to what used to be a lonely trailhead parking lot for Ross Pond on Route 28, about seven miles east of Indian Lake.
It’s a relatively easy hike to a spectacular cascade.
Once owned by Glens Falls paper company Finch, Pruyn & Co., the spot where OK Slip Brook drops down a sheer cliff into the Hudson Gorge was bought by the state from The Nature Conservancy last year.
The only taller waterfall in the Adirondacks is T Lake
Falls, a much more remote falls in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness that has no safe way for people arriving via the conventional trail to view it. It’s more of a giant steep waterslide than a waterfall, anyway.
OK Slip Falls, fortunately, is easy to reach.
People taking the six-mile round trip shouldn’t be discouraged by the muddy areas in the first few hundred yards; the trail soon dries out. But the mud is a good reminder that real hiking boots are better than even the finest tennis shoes for a back-country hike.
The walk is entirely through deep woods, with a few ups and downs across the shoulders of small hills but nothing terribly strenuous. I saw preschoolers who made it to the falls under their own power, though in good conscience I can’t recommend it for anyone under the ages 7 or 8.
The trip begins with a roughly 800-foot walk down Route 28 from parking lot to trailhead. Remember to face traffic; some hikers I saw, perhaps more bushy-tailed than bright-eyed, didn’t. Walking with your back to traffic is simply asking for trouble.
The trail, which also goes to Ross and two other ponds, is initially marked with red blazes. After a half-mile, a sign indicates the new trail to the falls going to the right; it has blue blazes. In not much more than a half-hour from there, the trail crosses the dirt road to Northern Frontier Camp, a private seasonal youth camp. Turn left, walk about 200 feet up the road, and the trail returns to the woods. From there, it’s barely 20 minutes to the falls, or in alternative a hike along the southern rim of the Hudson Gorge.
The trail emerges at a ridge with an overlook of the falls. There are great picture-taking opportunities.
Where the trail splits, the turn to the left goes to Ross Pond, a pretty enough pond, though vegetation tends to restrict the views. Beyond it are Whortleberry Pond, which I might hike to someday, and Big Bad Luck Pond, which I superstitiously have no desire at all to visit.
The trailhead for all four destinations is on the south side of Route 28, shortly after the end of the second of two long climbs between North River and Indian Lake. It’s about 85 miles from Schenectady, if you take the Northway to Warrensburg.