Hidden Waterfalls of Bolton Landing New York

After moving away from Lake George for work…I often find myself as a tourist in my own town when I return home to Bolton Landing, NY.  When I am home, I usually find myself giving visiting friends and family tours of the lake, Bolton Landing, and the surrounding areas.  As a kid we walked everywhere, our boats required oars to move, and gas was less than a buck.  Nowadays it has become expensive to getaway, that is unless you are smart about how you travel.  With today’s economic changes, consider taking advantage of alternative transportation opportunities like carpooling, talking public transit, or peer-to-peer ride sharing like RelayRides to have a great vacation without breaking the bank.  Vacation destinations can also be exploring hidden gems in your own back yard which in my case, is Bolton Landing, NY.  While some places will always be private and special to me, here are a few waterfalls and nature spots you might not find on the tourism maps when visiting Bolton Landing:

1. GATES FALLS

  • Short drive
  • Park/walk

brook-at-melody-manorIf you haven’t visited the Bolton Historical Museum, you should.  I like learning about small towns, especially when I spend time there or have work to do there.  In the museum there is some information about my family and how we helped settle the area along with some amazing artifacts and stories from over 200 years of Bolton’s founders and inhabitants.  The Gates family settled Huddle Bay (“The Huddle”) and remnants of our farm and property are still there today such as the 1800’s homestead, trails, and Gates Falls.  Gates Falls is tucked back behind Melody Manor and often confused with the overflow fall just south of Villa Napoli Restaurant.  However, if you follow the sound of the Huddle Brook behind the restaurant you will come to a beautiful 15 foot waterfall that cascades down to a shallow pebble wading pool before feeding into the lake.  The north side of the falls is owned by Melody Manor and the south side is private property.  The lake is everyone’s to share.  This little waterfall can be walked to easily and there is parking 100 feet away in the Melody Manor parking lot.

2. SHELVING ROCK FALLS

  • Boat ride
  • Anchor/3 mile hike

4747044592_cd3b8b975d_zThis is no mystery and every local or regular visitor knows it is there…but it is still a must!  By boat go to Log Bay and drop anchor in the shallow sandy waters.  Be sure to lock up your boat and secure your anchor.  You’ll want shoes so either wear water shoes or wade in while holding your hiking shoes.  There are trails on both the west and east end of the creek, so enter where you like.  The trail is on the east side of the creek and for the best experience take the low road, though it will require climbing over logs, tiptoeing across ledges, and sliding in some mud…but you are right on the creek with all the little falls.  For an easier climb take the high road which is a steep incline but more direct and smooth.  At the end is Shelving Rock Falls which boasts a gorgeous wading pool at the bottom, double falls from the top at about 35 feet, there are sections kids can slide on, a deep pool near the top on the south side, and you can cross from side to side at the bottom or top.  This is the east side of the lake so if you need to rent a boat, I suggest Chic’s Marina.

3. PADANARUM FALLS

  • Long drive
  • Park/walk

23579_433570718834_2282992_nThis drive is best in the fall and done in either a convertible or with all the windows down.  Drive north out of Bolton Landing on 9N to the flashing yellow light of County Route 11, make a left then an immediate right onto North Bolton Road.  A few miles up, the road forks and you want to stay right onto Padanarum Road.  After a while it will turn into a dirt road by a marsh and you’ll wonder if this is the right way to go…the answer is yes and you need to keep on going.  Padanarum twists and winds through the trees following the water.  You’ll pass the oldest cemetery in Bolton.  Just keep staying right and if you choose to get out and look around, be respectful of the Private Property signs.  You’ll pass Indian Pond before coming to an “intersection” in the middle of the woods.  Should you choose to go left you’ll wind up on Crystal Lake or Route 8 eventually, I stay right and make the loop back to Bolton.  After making the right the road opens up a bit as it jogs back and forth across the river with little bridges and great spots to pull off and explore a little.  Then the river drops away below you as the road goes higher and higher til you find yourself driving along the edge of a deep gorge with the falls rushing below you!  At the end of the road, you’ll find yourself back at Route 9N and all you have to do is turn right and you will be back in Bolton in 10 minutes.  It’s a great little loop to drive and take your mind off things.

4. NORTHWEST BAY BROOK FALLS

  • Short drive
  • park/hike

northwestbaybrookfalls04_575At about the same spot the Padanarum Road lets out onto Route 9N you’ll find a parking lot on the east side of the road with a small reservoir.  Park your car here (about 10-12 spaces) and walk south along route 9N on the east side till you come to the trail head.  Follow the trail, which is a very easy hike, to come to the top of the falls on the east side.  The falls are about a 25 foot plunge and they feed into Northwest Bay of Lake George.  For a view from the bottom you’ll need to trek through the woods on unmarked trails from the bridge by the highway and simply follow the sound of the water.  From the base you can launch a canoe or kayak and paddle your way into Lake George through an amazing marsh area.  I recommend having someone drop you off with a canoe or kayak and then picking you up at Bolton’s Memorial Park.  There are also kayak rentals on Green Island and you can easily paddle to this spot from there.

5. SEE THE LAKE

Not everyone can to get out on the lake, and sometimes its just nice to see it from land.  With lakefront property at a premium, sometimes it is hard to get someplace where you can truly appreciate the lake.  Here are a few hidden gems of places on land in Bolton Landing to see the lake without a boat or hiking:

If you like to hike, the Cat Mountain and Thomas Mountain trails are the way to go with stunning views from above!   Best in the fall.

Hidden gems are only found when you explore…so go out there and find your hidden gem.  I remember when I found Gates Falls and was amazed it had been there my whole life and I didn’t know.  I am a big fan of a little mini bay inside the bay across from Indian Brook by Fan Point, it holds special meaning to me and I remember “discovering” it.  There is another tiny bay like that on Gravelly Island in the Northeast corner.  My favorite underwater spot is the eastern rocks off the tiny island just north of Commission Island.  If you have never done the northern portion of the lake by boat and gone through the natural dam…you are missing out.  I love walking through the channel between Long Island and Speaker Heck Island…its fun on a waverunner or canoe too.  Standing on the rocks south of Canoe Island is a trip and putting through the Needles Eye channel has always been my favorite.  Fall is my favorite time on Lake George, when the water is calm as can be, the air is crisp, the leaves are changing on the mountains, and the lake is warmer than the air.  Sugerloaf Mountain comes to life with vibrant colors, reflecting in the glass-like water, and the only sound is wind in your ears, the splash of the water, and the hum of the boat.  However, you explore Lake George…have fun!

Boating on Lake George in Early Fall
Boating on Lake George in Early Fall, 2008
Standing In The Middle Of the Rapids on Padanarum
Standing In The Middle Of the Rapids on Padanarum in Fall, 2010
My Son Max at Shelving Rock Falls in Summer, 2013.
My Son Max at Shelving Rock Falls in Summer, 2013.

Lastly, much of Lake George’s eastern shore is owned by the state of New York and “forever wild.”  The Adirondack Park is the largest State Park in the United States and together, we can keep places like this for generations to come by respecting the environment and using alternative transportation to leave a smaller ecological footprint.  Check out solutions like RelayRides for fun ways to vacation in your area that save you money and are better for the environment…and be sure to tweet us at @SoLongFreedom if you’re ever in the Lake George area!  Now get out there an find your #HiddenGems!

Going Through The Needles Eye in Summer, 2014
Going Through The Needles Eye in Summer, 2014

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One thought on “Hidden Waterfalls of Bolton Landing New York

  1. What a great group of falls and views and treks. Another favorite spot….the mini public beach on Trout Lake, with the 3 foot wide fenced access.

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