The ski resorts in the Adirondacks draw in many visitors during the winter months but are often quite quiet during the off-season. However, there is one great reason to visit Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort in the warmer months of the year: Stag Brook Falls.
Stag Brook Falls is located on the southeastern slopes of Whiteface Mountain on the property of Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort, hidden away in a narrow patch of woodland between two of the resort’s ski slopes.
However, despite being between the ski slopes, it’s actually located quite close to the bottom of the hill and the main lodge, making it fairly easy to reach if you know where to look for this hidden Adirondack waterfall.
How to Get to Stag Brook Falls
Stag Brook Falls is hidden from view and you have to know where to go if you want to find it. However, if you know where to head, it’s not all that difficult to find.
To reach Stag Brook Falls, start by parking in one of the lots near the main office for the Whiteface Ski Center. This building can be found at the following address nine miles northeast of downtown Lake Placid: 5021 RR 86, Wilmington, NY 12997.
If you can, park close to the building after crossing the bridge over the Ausable River. However, if you can’t park there, there is parking between the river and Route 86.
To get to the trail, walk towards the hill with the large main office on your left and look for an unpaved road. There will be a small lodge on your right that you’ll walk past as you head up the hill.
After about a hundred yards of uphill walking, the gravel road will end at another gravel road.
Instead of sticking to the roads, continue walking straight toward the tree line and look for a sign that says Stag Brook Falls Trail. For those that use coordinates, you can find the trailhead here: 44.354476, -73.863300.
This official trail is easy to find as it heads into the narrow forest between the ski hills. Take a minute to sign the trail register both for your own safety and so they can track how many people are using the trails.
As soon as you get onto the trail, which is blazed with red discs on the trees, you’ll see Stag Brook. This beautiful stream cascades down the hillside creating many small waterfalls that are quite beautiful to see.
The trail is steep, narrow, and rocky, but is easy to follow and the beauty of the area will have you forgetting the difficulty of the hike.
After only a couple of minutes of hiking, you’ll come to the 25-foot Stag Brook Falls at the following coordinates: 44.355156, -73.864142.
From the main trail, you can hear, but not really see the bottom of the waterfall. To reach the base, take a little user-created trail that branches off to the right and heads near the bottom of Stag Brook Falls.
Stag Brook Falls is a bit hidden by the landscape, so it can be hard to get a good look at it from the bottom without getting your feet wet.
The best views come from near the top of the waterfall, which you can find by continuing to hike the trail uphill for a couple more minutes.
From this upper viewing area, the real beauty of Stag Brook Falls comes into focus. While standing here, it’s really amazing to think that you are only a few yards in both directions from some of the most popular ski hills in New York.
While at this upper viewing area, use extreme caution as the cliffs here are about 20 feet tall and a fall wouldn’t be fun.
From here, the Stag Brook Falls Trail continues to head uphill, crossing the stream on a trail and passing several more small cascades. However, there are no more large waterfalls upstream despite the water steeply heading downhill.
So, while you can continue to hike up the hill, I would recommend heading back down to the parking area and checking out some of the area’s other great spots such as High Falls Gorge and Jay Covered Bridge.
Overall, hiking this beautiful trail to Stag Brook Falls is a hidden gem of the Adirondacks and a great little hike while exploring the area. It’s only about a half-mile roundtrip, but it offers the chance to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls near Lake Placid.
Note that visitors are able to hike this trail during daylight hours just about anytime the ski trails are closed, so it’s a great way to get a taste of Whiteface Mountain Resort without the adrenaline of going down the slopes.
[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]