When you imagine hiking in the Adirondacks what images come to mind? Likely you are picturing tall mountains with panoramic views of lakes and forests. While it is true that the high peaks are the primary attraction (and for good reason) of hikers there are also a myriad of small trails that make wonderful day trips. A favorite hike of mine happens to be the Auger Falls Trail near Speculator and just north of Wells on Rt. 30 (detailed directions). This trail is more horizontal than vertical, making it a wonderful option for those less-than-fit adventurers looking to get a taste of the trek. Furthermore, more experienced hikers can enjoy the easy walk and bring along their friends and family.
Auger Falls is a series of falls that has cut a gorge that feeds the Sacandaga River.
In the past the falls have alternatively been named Augar Falls and Olger Falls, and it once was the site of a power dam that had to be let out by hand courtesy of a caretaker. Numerous deer trails cut through this area, and every time I have taken this hike I have been fortunate enough to see them. It can be easy to wander off the trail, and it is common for groups to get turned around. My grandfather once came across a girl scout troop that had lost its way and had to help them reorient themselves. The trail ends at the edge of the gorge looking down at the falls and is a wonderful site for photos or a picnic lunch. Be careful not to wander too close, and keep your kids by your side. Fall leaves can easily mask crevices in the outcrops and the resulting fall would be anything but pleasant.
The real secret to truly enjoying this trip is in the timing. During the winter months the falls often freeze over and capture the beauty of the spot in time. The trail itself is easily taken by snowshoe and can be a great place to learn. However, ice on the rocks can make the gorge especially dangerous so be wary near the edges. A few year ago I made the hike along with my father and grandfather which he describes in an article found here. You may sense his disappointment in my lack of the traditional wooden snowshoes by Havlik Snowshoe Co. of Mayfield, NY. He makes a good point that the newer snowshoes tend to be louder which should be kept in mind if you are hoping to spot some deer (check out this interesting post on the matter). While I do not believe Havlik still makes wooden snowshoes, it is good to see that his newer models maintain a Made in America standard. Also, something can be said about supporting a local business instead of an impersonal brand.
Anyone passing along Rt. 30 should make the stop for this wonderful little hike. It will take only as long as you’d like it to, and the falls themselves will leave you with that satisfied “power of nature” feeling.
If you have been to the falls, I’d love to hear about it. Tell your story in the comments!
P.S. Here is some nice footage taken at the falls:
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