When the forecast on Sunday finally called for sunny skies and warmer temps, I wanted to find an interesting and picnic-friendly new-to-me hike to do with my sweetie. The poor fella had overlapping day/night gigs that led to a lot of work on a little sleep, so I had strict instructions not to wake him up before noon and I knew he wouldn’t be in much of a mood for a strenuous trek. I poked around my favorite local hiking site and settled on the 1.0 mile loop at High Falls Conservation Area. With a difficulty rating of 2 out of 10, a really tall waterfall and within easy driving distance, it met all of my criteria.
If you’re in the Hudson Valley and wondered if this waterfall is worth visiting, it definitely is. It is big and it is gorgeous. We had a major snowfall two weeks ago (and there was plenty still visible around the park) followed by a lot of rain, so the volume of the falls was impressive. Walking through the woods toward the pounding roar was a real treat and when we caught our first glimpse of the falls through the still-leafless trees we both sort of gasped. Our pictures really don’t do it justice.
This little park is very nicely maintained by the Columbia County Land Trust. The parking area was clean and litter-free, as were the easy to follow and well-marked trails. The information kiosk was indeed informative, with a big map of the park, handouts about the CLC, a sign-in book and paper trail maps [pdf].
We followed Hike the Hudson Valley’s advice and hiked out to the overlook on the red trail. There are a few interesting rock outcroppings on this 0.5 mile, mostly uphill trail but we really kept our eyes on the prize once we were able to hear what turned out to be two waterfalls. The overlook clearing is obviously designed for the appreciation of the main waterfall, but it has a terrific view of a second waterfall this time of year, too. Anyway, it was the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely lunch of sandwiches and banana chips before heading back down the hill on the green trail, which mostly follows the creek for 0.5 miles back to the parking area.
There is absolutely nothing challenging about this hike. If it rates 2 out of 10 on difficulty, I can’t think of anything that might rate a 1. Maybe the moving walkway at the airport? The whole thing took us less than an hour, including lunch and time spent futzing around the information kiosk. As far as actual training value, my first hike of the season was kind of a dud. In every other way, though, it was absolutely wonderful.
Length: 1 mile
Elevation change: ~250 feet
Hiking Time: 30 minutes
Training Grade: D
Enjoyment Grade: A+