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Hiking in Adirondack
Grass River Wild Forest
Located in the northwestern region of Adirondack Park in Grass River Wild Forest, you'll find Harper Falls. A pleasant 0.6 mile hiking/biking trail descends to the picturesque waterfall on the North Branch of the Grass River. This easy hike can be enjoyed by everyone. There is a designated campsite at the end of the trail near the falls. This hike has an elevation gain of 122 feet on the return trip to your vehicle.
There is a small parking area located along seasonal gravel Donnerville Road, about 0.6 miles from County Route 27. There is a DEC sign for Grass River Wild Forest (partially blocked by trees) just after the turn off for the parking area, as the dirt road climbs a small hill. This seasonal road seemed to be pretty good for all vehicles.
From the parking area the Harper Falls Trail passes a yellow stop gate. The trail follows an old road and looks to be well maintained. You are still in Adirondack Park as you descend along the old road toward the Grass River. At 0.25 miles the trail briefly ascends, then descends again. At 0.4 miles the trail levels off for a short bit before starting its descent again. At 0.5 miles there is another leveling off before the trail makes one last descent to the North Branch of the Grass River. You should start hearing the falls.
At 0.6 miles reach the designated campsite (yellow DEC disc) and directly ahead is the Grass River. Carefully walk onto the rocks on the river for a nice view of the falls crashing through a chasm in the rocks. If you look above the main falls, you'll see other falls. Looking downstream is a calmer Grass River. To return to the parking area, simply retrace your steps past the campsite. Be careful if you decide to explore the small gorge/chasm and the area around the falls.
The North Branch Grass River Trail begins at the campsite and follows the bank of the scenic river as it travels downstream (except for a short section where the trail goes inland to miss a boggy area). The trail is about two miles long and takes you out of Adirondack Park, into the 1442 acre Downerville State Forest. While known as Downerville State Forest by the NY DEC, some maps call it Donnerville State Forest. The dirt road that gives access to the forest and this hike is called Donnerville Road. We are unsure why the difference in the names?
This hike is a short distance north of the extremely popular Lampson Falls. From the end of Tooley Pond Road, which is 16.7 miles from NY 3/Cranberry Lake, turn right onto County Route 27 and follow the road (past Lampson Falls) to Donnerville Road. This intersection is 6.7 miles from Tooley Pond Road. Turn left on the seasonal gravel Donnerville Road and in 0.6 miles reach the small parking area on the left. The GPS coordinates for the parking area is N44 26.493 W75 04.148 for those who have a GPS device in their vehicle.
Look below for a few pictures, a video, a trail map of this great short hike plus a map of the biking trails at Downerville (Donnerville) State Forest.
Start of the trail is past this yellow stop gate
Donnerville Road at the parking area
Designated campsite near Harper Falls
Looking downstream from Harper Falls
Downerville (Donnerville) State Forest Biking Trail Map
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