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Split Rock Falls (NY)

1998 Jon Binder

Overview

Ratings (ratings explained)
Power: 8/10
Beauty: 6/10
Ease of Access: 9/10

Powerful Split Rock Falls, a wonderful swimming spot, is located just yards from US Route 9, near Elizabethtown, NY.

Photos

A cascade below Split Rock Falls
Split Rock Falls in moderate water

Directions

From I-87

Split Rock Falls is easy to reach. From exit 30 on the Adirondack Northway (I-87) go northwest on NY route 9/73 toward Lake Placid for 2.4 miles (3.8 km) to a large, strange, but well marked intersection. Take a right, continuing north on US route 9 to a small bridge over the Boquet River just above Split Rock Falls. This point is 2.3 miles (3.7 km) from route 73 and 4.7 miles (7.5 km) from the Northway (Coming from the north, the bridge is 3.9 miles (6.2 km) south of the New Russia post office).

Just over the bridge, coming from the south, there is a parking lot on the east (right) side of the road. No Parking signs surround the parking area on both sides of the road for some distance, so be aware that if the small lot is full (as it might be on a hot summer day) you may have to walk a distance to reach the falls. From the parking lot take one of several unmarked paths that lead along the edge of the steep-sided ravine and steeply down to the base of the falls. The distance from the parking area to the falls can be measured in feet. Explore the paths for different views of the falls, and be sure to get to the very bottom, especially if you want to swim. Because it is so close to the road the falls are a popular swimming spot, and a good place to stop on the way to or from a day's hike in the nearby High Peaks.

Description

Split Rock Falls is a very pretty spot. In high water the falls can be very powerful. The main falls consists of two drops, each about 30 feet in height. The upper drop is split in two by a mass of rock. The left side first cascades over steps for a short distance then pours straight down, broken up by rocks on the right half. The right side of this upper drop is very similar to the left side though it looks more inclined from the vantage point where I took the picture. The two upper drops collect in a mid-level pool before dropping straight down another 30 feet over the lower drop. From here water flows through a steep, rocky ravine for about 50 yards, before making a beautiful cascade over little stones into a large, deep pool. This lower cascade is as beautiful as the main falls, in my opinion. The pool at the bottom is great for swimming. It's beatiful, deep (maybe up to 8 feet in the middle), and sometimes fairly crowded. Although the falls are so close to the road, only from the main falls is a roadsign and the bridge just barely visible. It's not too bad, and doesn't take too much away from the falls.

Notes

January 16, 1999

I was in the area, and decided the take the short detour to check out Split Rock falls in the winter. There was a lot of ice around, yet the falls were not actually frozen. The cascade at the bottom flowed over ice. It was interesting, but not that pretty. Also, it was slippery walking along the ravine, so I opted to return safely to the car.

October 3, 1998

I visited the falls on the way back from a hike up Cascade and Porter Mountains. I wanted to see the falls with some color around. No one else was there, and the falls had a good amount of water flowing. It was late in the afternoon so the light was coming in beautifully; that along with the red leaves on the ground provided for a good picture.

August 28, 1998

I was on my way to an overnight trip in the High Peaks. I remembered Split Rock Falls was nearby, and becuase it wasn't a very hot or sunny day, I hoped the falls wouldn't be too crowded. I climbed down to the base of the cascade to find two men drying off next to the pool. They said how they liked to visit the falls on cloudy days since less people liked to swim then. I went for a swim, enjoying the solitude and the cold water! When I was walking back to the car there was a kid jumping from the side of the ravine into the water between the main falls and the lower cascade. The current can be very strong here, so it's not something I would recommend. There's no way to tell how deep the water is and you could hit a rock on the way down, or be pulled over the cascade by the current. In fact, not long ago a man drowned when he jumped in the swift, high water after a thunderstorm. It's safe to swim in the pool at the bottom, and probably more pleasant too.

August 14, 1998

Today I was looking at a contour map of the area, and noticed Split Rock Falls just a short distance from where I was. I had heard of the falls before, and had even seen a postcard of it in a store somewhere, but I didn't know where it was. I decided to try and locate it using the map. To my surprise, I easily found the falls, knowing I was at the right place because of the parking area on the right. There were about 4 cars parked here today. I followed one of the paths from the parking lot along the edge of the ravine, passing a fence at one point (which obviously is meant to discourage people from getting to close to the edge or attempting to climb out onto the cliff next to the falls), and climbed steeply down to the base of the falls. There was a family swimming in the large pool, and a boy playing on the lower cascade (I wouldn't recommend that, it has to be very slippery, and a fall could mean hitting your head on the rocks). A woman was perched up on the rock next to the falls, ignoring the fence. The water wasn't too high, it was late, and the crowd was discouraging, so I left quickly. I was happy to find the falls so I will be back very soon.

Overall, Split Rock Falls is beautiful and easily accessible. It's a great swimming spot, but pick a day to go when it's somewhat cloudy if you don't want a crowd.

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Page Last Revised: February 11, 2002