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Latest hiking challenge leads to cascades rather than summits

April 13, 2019
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

In a world that is loaded with Adirondack hiking challenges, the latest will draw people to roaring falls and gentle cascades rather than mountain summits, providing a change of pace for those looking to add to their collection of patches.

Dig the Falls has announced the Adirondack Fifty Falls Challenge, which requires hikers to visit each of 50 waterfalls within the Adirondack Park. And unlike many other challenges, Fifty Falls also requires some proof that you completed the accomplishment.

One of the upsides of the Fifty Falls Challenge is that many of the falls are quite easy to get to, so even people with limited mobility can make it to some of the cascades. Other falls may require many miles of hiking to reach.

Article Photos

OK Slip Falls is one of the more remote waterfalls in the new Fifty Falls Challenge, requiring about a 6-mile round-trip hike.
News photo — Justin A. Levine

"Waterfalls are a mainstay of the Adirondacks that attract people from all over who come to see their natural beauty," the Dig the Falls website says. "Many of these visitors come to the High Peaks region where the issue of overcrowding is prevalent. Our goal is to help alleviate overcrowding of parking areas, roadways, and trails by attracting more people to other areas of the Adirondacks. It is our hope that this challenge will not only help with overcrowding, (but) will also benefit businesses in these areas."

While many of the falls are in and around the Tri-Lakes - such as Monument Falls between Lake Placid and Wilmington, Rainbow Falls at High Falls Gorge and the falls behind Wilmington Notch campground - the bulk are spread out throughout the park.

There's Alice Falls in Keeseville, Blue Ridge Falls in North Hudson, Tenant Creek Falls in Hope and Lampson Falls in St. Lawrence County. The falls challenge has many easy to reach cascades like Monument Falls and Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake, but several of them will also require a lot of hiking, such as Hanging Spears Falls and OK Slip Falls.

Spring may be the prime time to visit waterfalls as water levels are high, but Dig the Falls warns that waterfalls are inherently dangerous and should be approached with caution.

"When water levels are high and waterfalls really get going, there will not only be an increase in the power of the current, but an increase in foam and aeration as the water shoots down into the pool from above," Dig the Falls says. "This aerated water does not afford the same resistance that swimmers are used to when they try to pull themselves up or out. Many swimmers have perished because they underestimate the power of moving water.

"Do not get close to the edge of the waterfall's precipice. Too many people have fallen to their deaths by trying to get a better look or by getting that photo or selfie. No photograph or selfie is worth your life. If signs are posted, pay close attention and do not go where they tell you not to. They are there for a reason. Instagram stardom doesn't count if you're dead."

In order to complete the challenge, hikers must visit each of the 50 falls, and also must provide proof in the form of selfies or screenshots of GPS tracks for five of the falls. There is no time limit for completing the challenge, and a guidebook will be forthcoming.

For the full list of falls, along with the rules for earning the patch, go to



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