Death Falls (a.k.a. Secret Falls)

Death Falls (a.k.a. Secret Falls)

Hiking

Don't be afraid of the name. We are unsure how this beautiful piece of artwork got such a scary name. This short hike is an excellent destination hike for the entire family. The trailhead is unmarked with an appropriate sign, you will have to look for a state gate as the official start.

How to get there

From the intersection of Route 28 and Route 30 in the Town of Long Lake follow Route 28/30 toward Blue Mountain Lake. In Blue Mountain Lake follow Route 28 toward Raquette Lake for just under 10-miles to the trailhead. This trailhead is located on the left about 0.3 miles past the entrance to Golden Beach Campground. Look for a metal gate across a dirt access road. There is no trailhead sign.

3.2 miles E. of Village of Raquette Lake: This trail starts on the south side of Route 28, near the southern shore of Raquette Lake. Look for a yellow gate 10 miles west of the village of Blue Mountain Lake or 3.6 miles east of Sagamore Road (in Raquette Lake), that marks the start of the short path. Parking is sparse here, but you can park nearby at the Golden Beach State campground on Raquette Lake that will require a day use fee.

From the barrier, walk on a perfectly flat trail to a grass clearing, walking through it to the trail continuing on the other side. The trail is a straight shot to the falls through a wet area that you might want to avoid, and is just 0.2 miles from the road.

Trail Description

This trail, while quite short is an excellent destination for photographers and bird watchers. You will first need to pinpoint the metal gate which marks the start of the trail. This is not too difficult, just be sure to look for it just west of the entrance to the NYS Golden Beach Campground. There is parking for 2-3 cars.

As you continue through you will notice a split in the trail. Right will lead you around to above the falls – the area above the falls is not recommended for young children. The left fork will lead to the base of the falls. At this point you should be able to hear the water pouring to the rocks below. You will have a small stream crossing to where you will be able to see the falls to the right.

Death Falls is a wide fanning cascade where in the spring or after a heavy rain spell, rainbows often develop. Use this area to do some additional photography, but be aware that the rocks along the brook are very slippery and loose. The steep slopes of Estelle Mountain are directly to the south, as a small pond at the base of the mountain helps nourish this wonderful natural feature.

Distances

Trailhead to base of the falls – 0.3 miles

Family with Young Kids

  • 10 minutes to falls

Experienced Hiker

  • 10 minutes to falls

Out of Shape Hiker

  • 10 minutes to falls

Birding

Passing by the gate you will be on an old access road that brings you through a grass field with an attractive wetland to your left. As you continue by the wetland there are a few small areas that you can approach the shore, but don't get too close the edges are a bit unstable in parts. This opens up great opportunities for birding and wildlife photography.

Not only are the falls their most spectacular in spring, this is a time for the many migratory passerines and songbirds in this eco-system to appear with the turn of the seasons.

Snowshoeing

This would be a very short snowshoe or winter hike. The stream below the falls can very slippery, but the ice formations on a nice cool day are very nice.
This trail is not a great spot for cross-country skiing due to its short distance, but it surely could be used as such.

Winter Overview and Trail Conditions:

Passing by the gate you will be on an old access road that brings you through an open field with the brook to your left. As you continue through you may notice a split in the trail. Right will lead you around to Estelle Pond, the left fork will lead to the base of the falls. You will have a small stream crossing to where you will be able to see the falls to your right.

Ascent:

-20 Feet

Distance Round Trip:

0.6 miles

Approximate Time Round Trip:

Families with Kids: 30 minutes

Experienced Snowshoers: 20 minutes

Out of Shape Snowshoers: 30 minutes

Trailhead Location:

In Blue Mountain Lake follow Route 28 toward Raquette Lake for just under 10-miles to the trailhead. This trailhead is located on the left about 0.3 miles past the entrance to Golden Beach Campground. Look for a metal gate across a dirt access road. There is no trailhead sign. Parking in winter is a bit tricky, but it should be regularly plowed out.

Difficulty: 1=easiest, 5=hardest

One: This is a very short and easy trail, a perfect spot to recreate with the entire family.

Additional Important Information:

Do not go to the top of the falls in the winter it is a very slippery and dangerous location.

Find out more

See the blog post, A trifecta in the Blue Ridge Wilderness.

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