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Old 09-21-2016, 10:17 AM   #1
AvalanchePass
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Time of year for waterfalls hike in Adirondack Mountain Reserve?

Hi guys,

We're planning some dates for next year and looking for some advice.

We hope to do the Adirondack Mountain Reserve "Great Falls Loop" in 2017.

Plan is to drive in on a Saturday, camp overnight, and do the hike first thing Sunday.

First consideration is going at a time when the falls are still majestic. However, we would like to wait until the ice is off all of the trails (hiking with kids). Looks like our highest elevation is Indian Head.

I assume waiting until the ice is off the trails will put us into black fly season. I've read that they are at a peak from Mother's day to Father's day? We are familiar with them and could deal with them but would like to avoid the worst if possible.

Father's Day is June 18th. We're busy Jun 25th. Jul 2nd is Independence Day w/e which we would prefer to avoid.

So we're thinking Jun 18th:
  • Falls still majestic (correct?)
  • Worst of black fly behind us?
  • School still in session so summer crowds not yet a factor
Sorry, that turned into a bit of a ramble. Just thinking out loud.

So, does that date make sense given our considerations?

Thanks,
AP
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Old 09-21-2016, 12:27 PM   #2
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For what you are looking or, you want to go earlier; typically mid-May is best.

The "Mother's Day to Father's Day" saying really applies in the central Adirondacks. In the High Peaks region, the worst bug season is usually more like "Memorial Day to July 4th." On June 18th I will bet bugs will still be very bad here.

The waterfalls will be at their height in late April to early May.

You will want to watch the weather and read trip reports as the Spring develops. I call the brief dry season in May the "secret season"; many don't know about it. Some years when there is a big snowpack and a slow spring, there is no secret season. There is still ice and snow on the trails when the flies come out. In other years (like this year) the snow and ice are all baked away by about mid-April, and there are several weeks where the trails are dry and there are no bugs or leaves. I would aim for mid-late May (1-2 weeks before Memorial Day) as the best chance.
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Old 09-22-2016, 10:12 AM   #3
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Last April 24 we found the Algonquin trail above McIntyre Falls was iced. The woods were not but the pack ice on the trail gets kind of think...
http://www.geneseo.edu/~haley/adk/al...e_on_trail.jpg

Lower elevations were nice.
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Old 09-22-2016, 11:08 AM   #4
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next week

Is there someone who can give me advice on where to resupply going north? Thanks, Steve
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Old 09-24-2016, 09:32 AM   #5
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TCD,

Thanks so much for the detailed response. We have tentatively scheduled Sun May 14th (Mother's Day) and we'll check with the forum a couple of weeks prior for conditions and opinions. Looks like a spectacular hike.


Now, TCD seems like a decent fellow and I trust him implicitly.

However, his advice is the polar opposite of what I expected to receive so I'm just a little nervous. Can someone else second his crazy hike the High Peaks in the middle of May to avoid black flies advice?

I like the sound of this "secret season".


Thanks,
AP
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Old 09-24-2016, 10:17 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by AvalanchePass View Post
TCD,

Now, TCD seems like a decent fellow and I trust him implicitly.

AP
Thanks!

Now, I await the judgment of the Forum! Am I giving good advice? Or am I trying to draw a victim into Black Fly Hell?

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Old 09-24-2016, 12:22 PM   #7
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I, like TCD (who by the way is a very trustworthy individual) also live in Keene. I have written down the date of the first blackfly in my yard for the past 30 years. My land is at 1700 feet so I may be a few days later than the lower elevation and about 3 - 6 days before the higher elevations. This is not the peak of black fly season, just the start (but it progresses rapidly). My average first sighting is May 15th. hiking from early May to May 18th or so can have excellent hiking days - free of bugs, dry trails down low but still a messy, muddy snow spine up high. So hike lower peaks and beat the bugs in mid May.
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Old 09-24-2016, 02:02 PM   #8
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Thanks so much guys.

It would never have occurred to me to do this hike in mid May.

Now we'll have significantly less black flies (maybe none) and much more spectacular falls than my original plan.

Really looking forward to this one.

Now to tell to my wife and Mom I'll be away for Mother's Day ...
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Old 09-27-2016, 11:07 PM   #9
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May 7-14 would be a bit safer and still, at lower elevations, within the post-thaw pre-BF window. I couldn't go in the "window" this year, but in 2015 in the St Regis Canoe area, I was there through the 7th and they were starting to fly the last couple of days, though not biting much yet. The 14th is pushing your luck a bit, but your odds are good.
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Old 09-28-2016, 09:10 AM   #10
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Just be aware that the term "Great Falls Loop" is only what that website has chosen to call it. There are no signs with that term, and no one you ask will know specifically what you are talking about. So follow the website directions carefully. Also be aware that the Google Maps base map shows numerous roads that don't exist, and of course you know to leave the dog behind.
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Old 09-28-2016, 10:02 AM   #11
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Understood. Thanks.

I have the NatGeo map.

I have also printed a copy of this DEC map.

And I think I read that they give you a copy of the local Ausable map at the gatehouse?
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Old 09-28-2016, 11:20 AM   #12
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Sounds as though you are prepared with the maps. The DEC map fails to show a trail and bridge that goes right at the gate house, but that isn't needed to see any of the waterfalls. The other map is the one posted at the gate, but it is not a handout. Nevertheless, you have what you need.
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Old 10-02-2016, 07:44 AM   #13
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What is the distance for this loop? Looks like a good long hike to do in one day! Would like to enjoy the sites and not rush.
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Old 10-02-2016, 05:35 PM   #14
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Avalanche, there is at least one waterfall worth seeing which is not on the DEC map: Wedge Brook falls. As tgoodwin says, the first trail across the river is not shown and, for what you want, you might want to take it. When you get to the gate and sign in, don't go through the gate but go right, around the building to get the West River trail and follow all the way to the Lower Ausable Lake dam. This trail crosses Wedge Brook just below the falls and you get a great view from its bridge. You can cross the brook and go to the top of the falls, but its not as spectacular as the view from the bridge.

Steve (sagatlin), where are you coming from and what kind of supplies?
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Old 10-02-2016, 11:31 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by jjones View Post
What is the distance for this loop? Looks like a good long hike to do in one day! Would like to enjoy the sites and not rush.
The way I've mapped it out it's 13 miles according to the NatGeo map.

But I've included side trips that aren't necessary if you're just interested in the waterfalls.

Namely:
  • Cathedral Rocks / Bear Run
  • Lost Lookout
  • Indian Head / Fish Hawk Cliffs
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Old 10-02-2016, 11:36 PM   #16
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Thanks for the tips re: the trail before the gatehouse.

I was hoping to take it but wasn't sure it was still open as it isn't shown on the OSM or DEC maps.
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Old 04-17-2017, 08:52 AM   #17
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Hi guys,

Wondering if May 13th is still a good plan given this year's conditions?

Goals:
  • Majestic waterfalls
  • No (minimal) ice up Bear Run and Indian Head
  • No (minimal) black flies

Thanks,
AP
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Old 04-29-2017, 10:55 AM   #18
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Still trying to nail down our date for this hike.

I see that last May DEC issued a Muddy Trail Advisory for the High Peaks Region advising hikers to avoid trails above 2,500 feet.

The press release specifically mentions 3 Wilderness Areas. Technically the Adirondack Mountain Reserve is not a part of any of them.

However, the Backcountry Information page for the High Peaks Region for May 5th contained the same advisory. Under "Specific Notices" for the High Peaks Wilderness and Dix Mountain Wilderness they reference "recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve." So I guess the AMR is considered part of the High Peaks Region and was included in the advisory?

The trail to Indian Head approaches 2,700 feet before descending to the actual vista. So when the anticipated Muddy Trail Advisory is issued this year do you think Indian Head is among the trails they are asking us to avoid?

Stumbled across an Adirondack Almanack article from 2010 that included Indian Head in its suggested hikes for mud season.
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Old 04-30-2017, 08:33 AM   #19
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Should anyone wish to plan a hike to areas lying below 2500 feet, here's a map highlighting everything above 2500 feet:

http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/vi...rver&source=sd

Here's a version that allows you to change the basemap:
http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/vi...3.0918,44.7152
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Old 04-30-2017, 10:51 AM   #20
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Great map.

Apparently Lost Lookout trail ascends briefly above 2,500 feet as well.
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