Adirondack Mountains Hike: Indian Head & Rainbow Falls

Hi friends, welcome back! It may be back to reality for me, but I’m still dreaming of our vacation in Lake Placid! A few weeks ago, I posted my New York Hiking Bucket List, and today I’m sharing all of the adventures and pictures from our 16-mile Indian Head and Rainbow Falls hike! In my opinion, this is the prettiest hike on the whole list. As you will see from the pictures, it was hard to believe we were still in New York! 

Jon and I did not get up at the crack of dawn for this hike, so we ended up having to park about a mile and a half from the start of the trailhead. This was a rookie mistake, and we definitely regretted it at the end of our hike! There isn’t public parking at the start of the trailhead, so you have to walk about a half mile up a private road from the trail parking lot, and then take a left when you get to the golf course. 

Here we are at the start – all smiles because we didn’t know we would hike almost 40,000 steps!! The hike was supposed to be 11 miles, but because there was bridge construction from Indian Head to Rainbow falls, the detour added an extra 3 miles, making the actual hike a total of 14 miles. 

The path started out easy enough with an easy incline walk up a dirt road for about 2-3 miles. We didn’t see too many people along our walk, so it was very easy to maintain distance from others on the trail.

Jon and I peeled off the dirt road at the Gilbrook Trail marker, and this was more like the hiking conditions I expected. This part of the trail had a relatively steep incline and a few rock scrambles on the way up.

We made it to our first viewpoint and it was gorgeous! All we could see for miles were trees, mountains, and so much green! This was such a welcomed view after being in our NYC apartment for five straight months. 

After a short break, Jon and I hiked on in search of the famous Indian Head viewpoint. We were quite famished by the time we got to the top, so we ate our bagels from Sunshine Bagels in Lake Placid. I saw this rainbow bagel and thought it was to fun to not try 🙂 It tasted like a plain bagel, but it got me through the nine more miles of the hike. 

This view of the river and mountains made me feel like I was overlooking a fjord in Norway, and not just five hours north of NYC! I was mesmerized by how beautiful and peaceful it was at the top. 

This view is even more stunning in person!

After spending a decent amount of time at the top, Jon and I started our quest to find Rainbow Falls. My feet had already started hurting at this point, but I figured when in Rome, so might as well see Rainbow Falls. We still aren’t sure if it was the right choice ha! 

We passed another waterfall along the way that was pretty.

We made it to Rainbow Falls and had the place to ourselves, perfect for pictures. I brought a small tripod for my phone to get pictures of us, and it worked great!

After Jon and I left Rainbow Falls, we had a VERY long walk back. Both our feet were hurting at this point, and there may or may not have been some whimpering coming out of my mouth… the trek back was made even more difficult by the swarm of relentless flies that kept attacking us. We persevered and breathed a huge sigh of relief when we could finally get in the car and sit down. It felt amazing to take off my hiking boots and change into my flip flops!

We picked up a large Meat Lovers Pizza from Johnny’s Pizza on our way back to our Airbnb and then crashed hard! We hiked from about 11am – 7:00pm, the longest we’ve ever done. Our bodies aren’t used to walking so much, especially these days in quarantine. The most challenging part of the hike was the length, the inclines and rock scrambles were pretty moderate. Jon and I both had so much fun on our adventure and had the best day! I’d highly recommend this hike, but I wouldn’t say an extra three miles is worth seeing Rainbow Falls if the bridge is still under construction.

18 thoughts on “Adirondack Mountains Hike: Indian Head & Rainbow Falls

  1. That sounds (and looks) like a great outing!! I agree, we often forget (well, at least on this side of the Atlantic) that there’s much more to NY than just the metropolitan area.

  2. Absolutely gorgeous photos! I used to live on Long Island – we made it up that way only a few times. It’s stunning to realize all this is out there a short drive from the City.

    1. Thank you! I agree – theres so much to see in NY! I still have to get out to LI some day, I’ve heard there’s lots of great wineries and parks.

  3. I wanted to hike one morning while I was there. I kayaked a lake first the went to a nearby mountain. The line of cars parked along the road was off putting. I lakes another lake instead. Maybe on a fall trip. Get out of the city more. There’s a lot to enjoy upstate. Lots of great food everywhere. Wineries, breweries with great food. The bagel shop also makes great wraps!

    1. We’re planning to go there this coming 1st week of October. How long it took you from the top of the cliff given some alloted time for break and for taking pictures?

      1. So excited for you! It took us about 2.5 hours to get from the trail parking lot up to the top and we stopped a few times for pictures and we weren’t hiking very fast, more enjoying the fresh air and views

  4. Just wow! The photographs are completely
    stunning, I loved the falls, and that bagel looked yummy. Wish I were younger and in good enough shape to tackle that trail. Thank you so much for sharing the experience!

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