Indian Head and Rainbow Falls

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Adirondack Mountain Reserve

Indian Head and Rainbow Falls is a 11 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Keene, New York that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

Distance: 11.0 miles Elevation Gain: 1,998 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

no dogs

As of May 2019, there are now severe no parking restrictions on Rt. 73 between Keene Valley and Chapel Pond. Parking is only allowed at a few turnouts along that stretch. For this hike and others in the area, the only weekend parking after about 8 AM will be at turnouts up along the road to Chapel Pond. A great family hike. Park at St Huberts in Keene, follow Lake Rd from Ausable Club to Gill Brook Trail. This pristine trail is dotted with waterfalls and great views. The destination -- Indian Head -- has amazing, iconic Adirondack views. It's a long, but easy hike with no rock hopping or scrambles. Beware that no dogs are allowed and this restriction is strictly enforced. The parking is across the highway from the Roaring Brook access to Giant Mt. and is at the southerly of the two junctions of Rt. 73 and Ausable Rd. (not "Ausable Club Rd.") On a busy weekend, you will likely have to park on the highway. From the parking area, walk 1/2-mile up the road past a golf course. Just before reaching he large clubhouse, turn left and down between two tennis courts to the gate house and trail register.

hiking
private property
1 day ago

Wonderful views! Would highly recommend gill brook trail-more scenic!

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
snow
6 days ago

Awesome! We did it in 4 hours exactly and we did 10.5 miles. Easy until the last mile or so. Did it for Haley’s birthday!

This is officially my new favorite hike in the ADKs. Really nice trail, only a little steep toward the end on the way up. Long day but totally worth it!

hiking
9 days ago

I hiked the HG Leach trail to Dial and Nippletop Mt. and back on 5/22. It was challenging for me however definitely worth it! (I’m still pretty new to hiking.) I recommend bringing spikes as there is snow and ice towards as you near Nippletop, which has many feet of snow at the top. I did this hike without spikes and managed alright however it was more challenging with out them. My only gripe with this trail is that it could be marked better. I got lost a few times and found it hard to get back on track. Aside from that the views are beautiful! My hike started around 6:30am and I did not see a single person after the parking area and main entrance until around 12:30pm or so. I finally made it back to my car around 8:30pm! It was exhausting but definitely worth it!

hiking
9 days ago

*edit. Our recording shows we dod 15 miles because we had to park about a mile down the hill from the recorded trailhead. Parking was filled up near the trail head at 8:15 am. Today we hiked Indian Head and Rainbow falls along a counterclockwise loop according to the route provided in All Trails. We did add a slight detour early in the hike by taking a right on to Earls Way to get off the road and along the river, which added a little distance and softer ground with scenery. The hike was amazing; best we’ve been on so far. I’d say it’s a moderate hike due to lack of technical requirements, but it’s definitely a workout due to distance and steady incline. If you’re in a pinch for time and need to decide between the two outlook points chose the shorter, but much more impressive South Outlook over the Fishhook.

hiking
9 days ago

Hiked alone 5/21 trails are in beautiful shape, 1 or 2 mud spots but can easily go around. hit the actual trail head around 8:45am and didn't see a single soul until a half hour into my break at peak. Some rocks are tall getting past/over them, being on the short side had to slide myself down them, pretty fun! Not a fan of the long walk from parking to the trail heads.

hiking
10 days ago

How enforced is the no dogs thing? Has anyone seen dogs on the trail

Awesome trail. Rainbow falls so so cool. I would rate this hard though bc of the length and if you take the East river trail. If you took the road all the way up it probably wouldn’t be to bad except for the last mile. The waterfall made it so worth it. Take the more scenic trail !!

hiking
12 days ago

Hiked at 7am Wednesday morning & didnt pass another being! This hike is just perfect in everyway so if youre debating whether or not to do it- just do it!! Its longer but not strenuous, and every little lookout/waterfall/hangout is worth it. Took the West Rover Trail back & even found some fiddleheads. Only a few blowdowns right before Indian Head but everythin else is perfection!

hiking
13 days ago

Probably my new favorite hike in the North East. I loved the views from the brooks along the way up and the way back from Indian head as well as the crazy amount of waterfalls along the way. The hike is quite easy but long. Going counter-clockwise the first 1.5 miles is basically an easy flat road to start and the last 2 miles are also very easy. We didnt see a single bug today and the parking on a Tuesday was pretty easy arriving at 10:30am. It took us just over 6 hours with me stopping to take a million pictures at all the waterfalls and hanging out for a bit at Indian Head. We skipped the Fish Hawk Cliffs but I'll just take that trail out or in next time instead of doing a steep out and back.

hiking
13 days ago

This is by far one of my favorite hikes! It has incredible views, and heading over to Rainbow Falls is an absolute must!!

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
scramble
washed out
14 days ago

This trail was more on the hard side. Lots of mud and rock but the views are all worth it.

hiking
blowdown
bugs
muddy
14 days ago

Hiked 5/17. Half the parking is closed off, we found a spot at 7am. We hiked to Rainbow falls and it was the fullest I've ever seen the waterfall, just beautiful. Hiked up to Indian Head and there was one other couple there for the whole hour we were there. No wind the the lookout but lots of bugs. We hiked down to Gill Brook and there were more than a few spots of blown over trees and debris on the trail. A very few spots with residual ice, some mud here and there. We got back to the trailhead at 130 and the lot was full.

hiking
blowdown
15 days ago

The views of Rainbow Falls and from Indian Head are absolutely incredible and worth the 11.7 mile hike. My sons (11 and 12 years old) were able to do the complete hike, but were very tired by the end. We went to Rainbow Falls first then Indian Head. We also went to the other small sights on the trail (Gothic Window, Fish Hawk Cliffs, etc...).

hiking
blowdown
icy
muddy
scramble
16 days ago

Truly beautiful trail the whole way through, even with overcast skies. I got to the parking lot at 7:45am on a Saturday morning and it was already pretty full. I took longer than I thought just because I kept stopping to take pictures and look around, but I also logged 12 miles even though o stuck to the trail exactly as it is in the app. This was more challenging than expected though, and I slipped and fell both in mud and on ice, even with my Solomon winter boots on. There were only two unavoidable patches of ice so I didn’t bother putting spikes on but of course I fell. The 0.2mi out to the fish cliffs weren’t worth the views, it’s much the same if what you get at Indian head just more privacy, so I’d recommend skipping that tough section. There was some scrambling and tricky footing in several areas. Saw several younger hikers struggling in their sneakers- please wear appropriate hiking boots for this!

hiking
17 days ago

Great hiking trail. I went on Thursday the 14 of May. There wasn’t a lot of people at all. The snows are practically melted and gone. Once you get to the top, it becomes very windy so I recommend a sweatshirt or a long sleeves. The views were incredible.

hiking
blowdown
icy
muddy
23 days ago

Beautiful trail - my first ever hike in the Adirondacks and well worth the distance for those views. It was very brisk at the top of Indian Head and the trail was still really icy in the way back down, including some spots where it looked like things had thawed and re-frozen and were extra-slick. I was glad I had crampons and would recommend bringing them along if you have them. Also recommend the extra mileage to Rainbow Falls. Just gorgeous.

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