© 2000 Jon Binder
Ratings (ratings explained)
Ease of Access: 8/10
Shelving Rock Falls is a beautiful 50 foot waterfall located on the eastern shore of Lake George in the Adirondacks. The area also has several wonderful cascades, especially along the "Big Bridges" trail.
A small falls below Shelving Rock Falls
Shelving Rock Brook above the falls (Big Bridges Trail)
Shelving Rock Falls in moderate water
There are several ways to get to Shelving Rock Falls. Several trails criss-cross the area, and it can be confusing to find the right one. The falls is just a few minutes from the road. If you have a boat in Lake George, the falls can also be reached from Shelving Rock Bay.
From exit 20 of the Northway (I-87), take NYS route 149 east to the intersection with NY 9L. Here, continue straight (east) on NY 149 for 1.6 miles to Buttermilk Falls road, on the left. Turn left onto this road. After about 3 miles, the road becomes Sly Pond Road and the pavement ends. It is somewhat slow at times, but easily passable by normal cars. At 8.7 miles from NY 149, Hogtown Road comes in on the right. Continue straight, now on Shelving Rock Road. At 9.4 miles from NY 149 is the Hogtown Trailhead and parking for the Lake George Trails System. Curve left, and continue for another 3 miles, approximately, on Shelving Rock Road. The last 3 miles are fairly steep and twisty, and the road is very narrow at times, so use extreme caution in this stretch especially.
At this point, about 3 miles from the Hogtown trailhead, several parking areas are found on the left side of Shelving Rock Road. Trails lead from most of these parking turnouts to Shelving Rock Falls, the surrounding area, and the eastern shore of Lake George. It is difficult to decide which of the several parking areas provides the easiest access to the falls. However, all of the trails are easy and short.
In my opinion, the approach which provides the best combination of scenery and ease of access starts at the furthest parking area on Shelving Rock Road. A trail leads from here, slightly downhill towards Lake George. Just before the Lake, after less than five minutes, a trail turns to the left. Follow this for another minute to a bridge over Shelving Rock Brook. Cross the bridge, and again turn left, following along the stream. Another five minutes or so will bring you over somewhat rough but flat terrain to the falls.
If you end up on a trail that brings you to the top of the falls, I would not recommend crossing Shelving Rock Brook, as there is no bridge, and people have been injured here when they slipped and fell part of the way over the falls. Instead, if you do choose to head down a trail that brings you to the top of the falls, turn back, continue in your car further down the road to another parking area on the left, and give it another shot.
It it sounds confusing, don't worry. Since the area is so inviting, it is never a bad thing if you do briefly head down the wrong trail.
Shelving Rock Falls is a very beautiful falls. Water falls over the wide crest of the falls for 50 feet. The look of the falls changes considerably depending on the water level. Most times of the year, the falls is separated into 2 distinct parts. The right side consists of water fanning out into a wider band of water, while the left side has less water flowing over it in a less organized manner. In high water, the whole cliff face is covered in water. In very low water, only a little bit of water on the right side is seen.
The brook below the falls also holds some nice cascades and little falls. Be sure to walk along it and enjoy these. On your way to the falls, you'll pass a little falls on Shelving Rock Brook that is on par with the beauty of the main falls.
"Big Bridges" Trail
Another trail in the vicinity, the Big Bridges trail, starts on the right side of the road, exactly 2.6 miles from the Hogtown trailhead. There is a V-shaped beginning to this wonderful walk. The trail leads along Shelving Rock Brook, upstream from the falls. It crosses over a couple of bridges and provides views of wonderful little cascades, although there are no waterfalls. It is a pleasant walk with no real destination. Turn around whenever you feel like it, or, after almost a mile, turn left at an intersection to continue back to Shelving Rock Road in antoher mile. A left turn at the road would bring you back to your starting point in 0.4 miles.
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Page Last Revised: February 11, 2002