Early Fall at Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
Buttermilk Falls

On our way home from hiking Indian Pass and Santanoni Peak in Adirondack Park last fall, we saw a sign near Long Lake pointing toward Buttermilk Falls.  Several of us remembered it from an earlier visit with friends about 20 years ago, so it seemed like a good place to stop and see the fall colors.  As it turned out, the colors weren’t showing too much yet, but it’s still a great waterfall and well worth the stop if you happen to be in the area!

Quick Stats

Round Trip Length: 0.4 miles Trail Type: Loop Elevation Gain: 186ft. Pets: Leashed Fees: None

The far righthand side of Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
The far righthand side of Buttermilk Falls

The trail leads down from the unassuming parking area (it is marked, though not super-well).  If you go generally left, you’ll end up at the landing for portaging canoes and other watercraft around the falls.  It’s so peaceful not that far upstream from the waterfall!

Standing at the portage above Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
Standing at the portage above the falls

Turn downstream and follow one of the many paths down along the Raquette River/through the forest.  Along the way, you’ll probably see the lip of the falls, as well as small cascades just above the main drop.

Riffles above the main part of Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
Riffles above the main falls

Closer to the bottom of the waterfall, you may see picnic tables.  This is a “picnic area,” and it’s apparently fairly well-used.  It certainly would be a nice spot for a picnic.  We thought about eating lunch here, but it began to rain about the time we were considering this option.  So we moved on to the picnic area at the Fourth Lake Campground. (Fun fact: If you’re camping in one of the state park campgrounds, your reservation gets you into state park fee areas for free, even on the day that you check out of your campground.)

Approaching the lower area of Buttermilk Falls - you can walk out into the river on the rights to the right of the picture.  Near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
Approaching the lower area of Buttermilk Falls – you can walk out into the river on the rights to the right of the picture

Once below Buttermilk Falls, you get a much better view of the waterfall, itself.  I hear it can get fairly low in the summer, but we’d had a rainy fall so there was quite a bit of water.  It’s actually multiple smaller falls over multiple drops.  It’s quite impressive, even in the fall, and I expect it would be even more impressive during spring snowmelt.

Buttermilk Falls.  I'm guessing it received its name from the yellow foaming of the water.  Near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
Buttermilk Falls. I’m guessing it received its name from the yellow foaming of the water.

Below the falls, the river goes back to being pretty placid.

Looking downstream from below Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
Looking downstream from below the falls

We walked out on rocks into the middle of the river for better views.  I’ve heard of people wading in the area and also swimming (not in the falls, which are very dangerous).  I don’t personally recommend it.  When we visited with our friends, he caught a huge snapping turtle that was not very happy.  Who knows; it or its offspring might still be in the area!

Rocks in the river below Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
Rocks in the river below Buttermilk Falls

About the time we were ready to leave, the sky started to sprinkle on us.  All the more reason to keep moving toward home!  Take one of the trails back toward the parking area; if you do it right, you can make the entire hike into a sort of loop, which is what I did – more by accident than by trying, but it all works!

Closeup of Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
Closeup of the falls

Round Trip Trail Length: I went a total of 0.4 miles, but I explored quite a bit.  It’s probably not more than a quarter mile RT if you just go to the lower views of the falls and back to the parking area.

Elevation gain: 186ft. (1,739ft. to 1,668ft.)

Facilities: None

Fees: None

Trail Notes: The area is fairly heavily traveled, so chances are the trails are pretty worn.  Watch your step.  I saw people wearing flip-flops, but I would want something with more support.  Swimmers and anglers both enjoy the water downstream of the falls (no swimming in the falls, themselves).  I’ve heard that the ice formations on the falls are fantastic in the winter if you can handle the slippery trails.

A large rock in the Raquette River below Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
A large rock in the river

Trail ★

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★

Overall Rating: ★

Above Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
Above Buttermilk Falls

GPS Coordinates for Buttermilk Falls

Trailhead: 43.914286,-74.483038 (43°54.85716′, -074°28.98228′ / 43°54’51.4296″, -074°28’58.9368″) (1,699ft.) (0.0)

Canoe Portage Trail: 43.914124,-74.483678 (43°54.84744′, -074°29.02068′ / 43°54’50.8464″, -074°29’01.2408″) (1,677ft.) (330ft.)

Buttermilk Falls: 43.915056,-74.483943 (43°54.90336′, -074°29.03658′ / 43°54’54.2016″, -074°29’02.1948″) (1,648ft.) (0.16)

End: 43.914300,-74.483095 (43°54.85800′, -074°28.98570′ / 43°54’51.4800″, -074°28’59.1420″) (1,698ft.) (0.41)

Closeup of Buttermilk Falls near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
Closeup of the falls

The gpx file for Buttermilk Falls can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

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(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

Buttermilk Falls.  Note the touch of color in the trees above the falls.  Near Long Lake, New York, Adirondack Park
Buttermilk Falls. Note the touch of color in the trees above the falls.

Getting to Buttermilk Falls

From the town of Long Lake, drive east on NY-28N/NY-30 South.  After about 3.0 miles, you’ll want to turn right onto North Point Road, which should be signed for Buttermilk Falls.  Drive about 2.1 miles to a small parking area/gravel pulloff on the right.

If you’re coming from the south, the turnoff onto North Point Road is about 9.5 miles north of Blue Mountain Lake.

Visual trail map and elevation profile of my exploration around Buttermilk Falls (mostly following trails) near Long Lake, Adirondack Park, New York
Visual trail map and elevation profile of my exploration around Buttermilk Falls (mostly following trails)

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Have fun and see beautiful waterfalls with this guide to fifty falls in Adirondack Park!  From short strolls to longer hikes, there’s a wide variety of falls… and if you take selfies with the falls, you can earn a couple of different patches.  How fun is that?