The High Falls on the Chateaugay River drew us with its impressive three- or four-tiered 120ft drop as it progressively fanned out wider the further it dropped. Since we decided to drive from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to Albany, New York as part of our Adirondacks leg of the trip, we thought this was a pretty convenient excursion after re-entering the US through the Cornwall border station. With this section of the Northern Adirondacks fairly developed with rural farmlands, the falls felt like it was in a pocket of nature amidst these agricultural developments. That said, this waterfall was privately run so we had to pay a very modest $2 per person entrance fee before proceeding onto the short trail to the base of the falls starting from the back of the welcome center.
After paying our fee (and letting our daughter finish playing with the local dog Chelsea), we walked out the back through what looked like a little putting course before re-entering the bush on a narrow trail. Shortly thereafter, there was a fork in the trail where going right led towards the top of the High Falls, but it didn’t look like this path was really meant for visitor traffic as there wasn’t much of a view of the waterfall, and the going got a little rougher and steeper the closer to the falls we got. Plus, we noticed from here that High Falls was actually regulated as there looked to be some dam infrastructure just upstream of the drop of the falls.
Back at the trail junction, we then took the left fork, where the trail skirted part of what looked to be a fairly large RV park before the trail went downhill. Towards the end of the initial long-stepped descent, we were able to get a look at the impressive High Falls in full context (including hints of the dam infrastructure upstream of it).
After getting our fill of this initial look at the falls, we then followed a narrower trail initially skirting some cliffs before descending some narrow wooden steps right down to the plunge pool of the falls. Given the steepness of the terrain and how high up the stairs were compared to some parts of the underlying cliff, we definitely felt that our $2 admission was a fair price considering how much harder (and more dangerous) the trail would have been without these stairs. We also had to be wary of some poison ivy overgrowth onto the narrow stairs.
Once we were at the base of the stairs, there was a bench that allowed us to take in the High Falls across the plunge pool from us. There was also additional remnants of hydro infrastructure on the far left side of the plunge pool, which further reinforced to us how this waterfall might have served a purpose before becoming a tourist attraction. There was some side light from the early morning sun during our visit, which didn’t quite fully penetrate the shadowy falls. However, I’d imagine that this might be more of an early afternoon waterfall if we were seeking the best possible light for natural photos.
Overall, we spent a little over an hour doing both the hike and the photographing. On the way back up, Julie and Tahia went straight to the playground at the entrance of the RV park, which was our daughter’s reward for being able to do this hike with us without a child carrier.
From the Cornwall Border Station heading south (105km or 90 minutes drive southeast of Ottawa), we turned left onto Route 37 due east. We followed Hwy 37 for about 5 miles until we made a right turn onto Hwy 95 (though we could’ve stayed on Hwy 37 all the way to Malone). We then followed Hwy 95 for just under 5 miles towards the village of Bombay where we continued straight ahead onto the Bombay-Westville Road (instead of turning right to stay on Hwy 95). After almost another 8 miles, we turned right to rejoin the Hwy 37 due south.
At about a mile, we then turned left to go onto Hwy 122, and we followed Hwy 122 for another 10 miles, then we continued to go straight on Hwy 11 for the next 5 miles. At that point, we followed the sign and turned right onto Cemetery Road (note the village of Chateaugay was another mile east of this turnoff). Then, we followed Cemetery Road for the next 1.3 miles (there was a three-way intersection after a mile where we turned left) where the turnoff for High Falls Park was on the left. We then followed the turnoff right to the large parking space and welcome center with the words “High Falls Park” painted on the roof of the welcome center.
Another way to go from Chateaugay town was to go south on Hwy 374, then turn right onto Pulpmill Rd, then turn right onto Cemetery Rd where shortly thereafter, there would be the turnoff for High Falls Park.
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