© 1998 Jon Binder
Ratings (ratings explained)
Ease of Access: 8/10 (first falls) - 6/10 (second and third falls)
Tenant Creek Falls is located in the Adirondack State Park, north of the Great Sacandaga Lake in Hope, NY. This picture is of the third of three falls that grace Tenant Creek, all reached by a pleasant, easy, 3 mile round trip hike.
Second Falls of Tenant Creek
Tenant Creek below the first falls Third Falls on Tenant Creek
Tributary of Tenant Creek
To reach the trailhead for Tenant Creek Falls, take NY 30 and, traveling North from the area of the Great Sacandaga Lake. West Stony Creek and the Sacandaga River are crossed in succession. About 0.5 miles (.8km) past this, turn right onto Old Northville Road. Continue 1.5 miles (2.5 km) on this road, crossing over East Stony Creek, and turn left at East Stony Creek Road (also known as Hope Falls Rd. on some maps). Here, a customary brown and yellow Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) sign gives mileages to some destinations. There is also a large sign with the words "Hope Falls Road" here. Drive down East Stony Creek Road for 7.4 miles (12.3 km) to the end, until a parking area is seen on the left with room for about 5 or 6 cars. The road is rough in places and made of dirt near the end; however, it is easily passable by normal cars. There are a couple of forks in the road that can be confusing. Take a right at the first major fork, a left at the second. Try to look for road signs or trail signs (follow signs for Wilcox Lake). You will know when you are at the trailhead as the parking area is up on the bank of East Stony Creek. Don't give up if you take a wrong turn. Just turn around and continue towards Wilcox Lake. Take care to grant privacy to the owners of the old Brownell Lumber Camp, the land to the right, by staying on the trails.
Description and Notes
July 28, 1998
From the parking area walk north on the trail following blue DEC markers. After less than 5 minutes you will reach a sturdy wooden bridge that crosses Tenant Creek. Before the bridge a hard to miss sign says "falls" and points right. This is the trail leading to Tenant Creek Falls. Before taking the turn look up and down the Creek from the bridge. You can see water cascading over boulders for some distance. It's a very nice scene.
The first part of the trail is along a nice stretch of Tenant Creek with beautiful litlte cascades. In high water, it also crosses over a tributary of Tenant Creek. About a half of a mile from the turn, over an easy, flat, and well-defined trail, you will come to the first waterfall of Tenant Creek on your left. To this point, the walk will have taken you about 15 minutes.
This waterfall alone is a worthwile destination. Crystal clear water spreads out in an upside-down V shape over an inclined rock slope and a couple of ledges. The water splits at the top of the falls to form two practically identical parallel cascades. At the bottom the cascading water collects in a large, round pool that is waist deep. I walked through the pool right up to the falls, and even climbed carefully a short disctance up the side of the falls, choosing a place that wasn't too steep or slippery. ADK's Guide to Adirondack Trails: Southern Region gives a perfect description of the rocks and cliffs around the falls which create a "small natural ampitheater." Exploration of some kind on the rocks and a long rest are practically mandatory here. The falls are, by my estimation, about 50 feet high. The only drawback of this falls is the fact that the direct lighting makes photography rather difficult. Also, because it is so easy to get to, the first falls is far more popular than the other two.
After the first falls, the trail becomes much narrower. Trail markers are no longer present, and the route is much rougher. However, the trail is still generally well-defined and not too difficult. Another mile of beautiful walking along Tenant Creek, passing a marshy area and climbing up and down a small ridge, leads to the second waterfall of Tenant Creek. It takes about forty minutes to get to the second falls from the first. This one was definitely the least beautiful of the three, however it is still lovely. It's just a small cascade, maybe 30 feet high, over slightly inclined broken-up rock.
About another 250 yards upstream from this falls is, in my opinion, the best of the three waterfalls that grace Tenant Creek. The falls are at the back of a large, fairly deep pool surronded by small cliffs. They are about 30 feet high. The water cascades over many ledges, this time with no incline, to the pool. On the left side of the falls the water falls with less interruption. Explore the area for different angles from which to view the falls. I got what I considered the best picture from the rocks below the pool at the base of the falls.
All three falls give the feeling of great remoteness; it's quite apparent that not many people visit these falls. Even a story on the falls last summer in the Times Union, the newspaper for Albany, NY, hasn't taken this feature away. I visited just a few days after that story ran, and only met one other group along the trail. Don't even be dismayed if the small lot at the trailhead is full -- they are probably headed for Wilcox Lake, accessible by the same trailhead.
Overall, the falls are very pretty and worth the short, easy, pleasant walk to reach them -- especially the first falls. They aren't spectacular falls, but rather places from which to attain solitude in the midst of beauty.
April 29, 2000
I was eager to see the falls in higher water. Indeed, the water level was significantly higher than in July. The waterfalls, however, did not look all that different. Some waterfalls take on new characteristics and give a completely different feeling based on their water level, but Tenant Creek Falls is not one of them. Of course, the falls were beautiful as usual, and few people were encountered on the trail, always an added bonus.
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