Tenant Falls is a short 2.1 mile trail through beautiful mature forests that leads to three extraordinary waterfalls and swimming holes
2.1 miles (4.2 miles round trip, 1.8 miles round trip to the first waterfall)
Wells, Hamilton County
Southern Adirondacks, 9 miles southeast of the hamlet of Wells
Hiking, Snowshoeing, Cross-country skiing
The Tenant Creek Falls trail is a relatively short hike that is accessed from a parking area on a seasonal (unpaved) dirt road that starts from the northern end of County Route 7 in Hamilton County, south of the hamlet of Wells. The trail is on public Forest Preserve lands in the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest. The 2.1-mile trail leads to three separate waterfalls, each accompanied by a large swimming hole at their base.
The first waterfall is 0.9-miles from the trailhead. This part of the trail is widely popular for the beauty and accessibility of the waterfall. The trail is trampled in many places, eroded and wet, but easy to follow. The surrounding forest is mixed northern hardwoods, with large diameter white pine, hemlock, and ash. The first waterfall is the most popular destination of the hike and may have several groups present at once on a nice day.
After the first waterfall, the trail runs for 1.2 miles, mainly following alongside Tenant Creek, which is very scenic. This section of the trail, though less heavily used than the trail to the first waterfall, is easy to follow.
The forest surrounding both Tenant Creek itself and the accompanying trail is a mix of old hardwood and conifers, with many large trees. There are massive white pines and hemlock, a healthy population of white ash and occasional maple, and the forest floor houses an abundance of toads and garter snakes. The second and third waterfalls are within two hundred yards of each other. They are smaller than the first, but equally beautiful, and offer more solitude.
The short distance, minor elevation change, and entertaining destinations make this a popular trail for families with small children and anyone else looking for a good ratio between effort and reward. Those to whom the effort is the reward will likely venture farther to the other waterfalls.
The trail out is the same as the trail in. This is a beautiful hike, accessible for anyone who is comfortable and able to walk the full 1.8 miles to the first waterfall or the 4.2 miles round trip to the second and third waterfalls.
Click here to download a map and trail directions for Tenant Falls.
When You Hike Make Sure to Practice “Leave No Trace” to be Prepared and to Protect the Forest Preserve
Please follow “carry in, carry out” rules for all trash and other Leave No Trace principles when hiking in the public Forest Preserve and other wild areas. The seven Leave No Trace principles are: 1) Plan ahead and prepare; 2) Stay on hiking trails and camp at designated areas; 3) Dispose of human waste and trash properly; 4) Leave what you find; 5) Minimize campfires; 6) Respect wildlife; 7) Respect other hikers.
Educated hikers do not damage the environment. Prepared hikers do not need search and rescue unless injured.
Winter Use: Tenant Falls is used for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. It is accessed off of the season road that is unplowed in the winter, which make the trip longer.
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