High Falls Conservation Area

Short, easy hiking trails wind through High Falls Conservation Area to one of the most spectacular waterfalls in New York.

Hike Length: 1.6 miles (2.57 km)

Total Ascent: 160ft (49m)

Intensity: Easy Taconics Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail, Unmarked Trail, Rock Scrambles

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hikers sitting around high falls convervation area waterfall

High Falls

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 Very easy trails, plus one tricky off-trail section.

The High Falls Conservation Area, Philmont, NY is a stunning destination and a great place to cool down in New York’s brutal summer heat.

This hike in is very short. Really, it’s more of walk — though there is a wet rock scramble to contend with so do be careful and make sure you bring proper footwear.

There are at least two glorious waterfalls, with the tallest falls being over 150 feet (tallest in Columbia County). And there are excellent viewing spots from above and at the base of the falls.

I explored most of the High Falls Conservation Area’s trails and clocked my stay at 1.6 miles.

Allow an hour to visit the falls, walk the trails, and see all the sights. Many people stay much longer to picnic around the gorgeous natural pool at the base of the falls.

Dogs are welcome but must be leashed at all times. (And please pick up any poop your pooch poops!)

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High Falls Conservation Area Hiking Trails

The High Falls Conservation Area hiking trails include…

  • Short, easy, interconnected trails
  • Lots of beautiful stream-side forest (hemlock trees galore)
  • Stunning waterfalls
  • Two great views of the main falls

This trail guide is new. The hike was completed on 5/21/22 under which date this page will eventually be filed.

High Falls Conservation Area Trail Notes & Gallery

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The parking area is large and well-tended. High Falls is home to several fragile habitats and unique plants. Please stay on the trails to protect them.

Upper Falls

Pass though the wooden door frame and follow the Waterfall Way trail to the upper viewing platform, on the east side of the conservation area.

On the way, make a note of this junction. You’ll come back here soon and head down the Agawamuck Trail to the lower falls.

High Falls Conservation Area trail signposts
High Falls Conservation Area trail signs

For now, continue along the Waterfall Way. In just a few minutes you’ll reach the Waterfall Overlook…

hikers enjoying view of waterfall
High Falls from above

High Falls Conservation Area waterfall seen from above
High Falls from above

Head back to the junction.

Lower Falls

Follow the trail signs down to the Agawamuck Creek — the “Creek of Many Fish” to the Mohicans. There are some nice short trails to explore before you head out to the main falls.

You’ll pass this small, gorgeous waterfall on the way out…

small waterfall seen on the Agawamuck Creek
Small waterfall

And you’ll need to scramble over some rocky barriers. The official trail ends at these rocks. From here on, you are technically off-trail and should proceed at your own risk.

high falls conservation area rock scramble
Rock scramble

Up ahead, the main falls comes into view…

High Falls Conservation Area
High Falls Conservation Area ahead

hikers sitting around high falls convervation area waterfall
High Falls

High Falls Conservation Area Swimming

Technically, swimming is not allowed here but many people take a dip in the cold water.

High Falls Conservation Area waterfall
High Falls Conservation Area

And some take dangerous risks…

High Falls Conservation Area waterfall
High Falls Conservation Area / swimmer for scale

Resist the urge to do this. Better safe than sorry.

There is a large area all around the edge of the pool with lots of rocks to sit on and hang out.

High Falls Conservation Area is an amazing summer location. I can’t wait to re-visit this spot in the fall and winter.

Similar Hikes

Check out the list of waterfall hikes on this website.

Enjoy easy hikes to Bash Bish Falls and Kaaterskill Falls.

This hike also reminded me of the fun, short loops around Sloan Gorge Preserve.

This trail is short and easy enough, and rewarding enough, to be considered a Nature Trail.

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Large, popular lot

Google Maps Location: 42.246876, -73.658209

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead