Indian Head and Rainbow Falls

MODERATE 198 reviews

Indian Head and Rainbow Falls is a 11.1 mile moderately 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
11.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,073 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

no dogs

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.

23 days ago

We did this hike in December. It was a lovely hike. Snowshoes and spikes necessary. As always, it offers beautiful views.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked this today, to Fish Hawk Cliffs and it was as stated in previous reviews. Super easy until the side trail to the cliffs. In the summer, drier months is would probably be easy/moderate, but with all the water and mud it made the hike a bit longer since I had to take my time. Regardless, it's worth it ten fold. I drove in from Cleveland specifically for the hike and was not let down by any stretch of the imagination. No need for poles, just take your time in the slop. Will be back many more times.

backpacking
3 months ago

Very scenic and easy hike

hiking
3 months ago

Low effort walk in the park (literally - the first few miles are such a gradual incline and the surroundings are beautiful) that have an awesome payout in the lookout. It’s an easy hike or a good recovery hike if you’re just wanting to be outside on a nice day!

3 months ago

Absolutely ridiculous. I was denied at the tail head by the most rude man I have ever encountered. I was with my service dog and he claimed absolutely no dogs on trail. He has no sympathy or understanding of how a service dog worked. They do not comply with state and federal laws concerning service dogs. I would recommend no one ever attempt this hike within this Nazi “reserve”.

hiking
4 months ago

We did this trial backwards. We went over a bridge from the gravel road to take us to the Beaver Meadow falls but before we reached that we hit a small cascade and walked over a gushing river. We continued down the Lower Lake Trail (believe that's what it's called).This was the trail that had the yellow markers and then decided to do the Lost Lookout trail (red markers) and then at some point it turned blue. This was a steep incline! We basically did a loop and ended up back at the Beaver Meadow falls. We basically had to the Lower Lake trail again (HAHA). By the time we reached the dam, we were pooped but nonetheless, hiked up to Indian Head. Please beware that it was muddy due to rain, WEAR BOOTS. No sneakers please. The leaves create a slippery situation, especially damp ones and oh MUD. After Indian head we did the walk in the park gravel road back which was much needed after our backwards start and detour. Either way, this is a beautiful trail and hike! Highly recommended however NOT BACKWARDS!

hiking
4 months ago

4.5 hours down and back. The walk from the parking lot to the trail alone takes about 35-40 minutes. Pace yourself at the beginning of the hike until you surpass the waterfalls and streams to your left on the way up. The hike gets vigorous but is very well marked. The scenic route is not much different than the easy route so don’t be afraid to go on the daring side to be closer to the water. The entire hike is filled with beautiful foliage and there is not a singular sight on the way up worth missing. Heading toward the top near the overlook, ensure you stop on the large rock ahead to take some pictures above the trees the views are much different from below. As you approach the overlook the payoff of the entire hike fills you with this sensation of joy. The view spectacular, absolutely awe inspiring and worthy of the 11.1 mile trip. 5 out of 5, will do again.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked this on Saturday October 13, at the trailhead at 0730. Started out on Lake Road, Rainbow Falls, Indian Head, Fish hawk Cliffs and Gil Brook.

The trail was not crowded until we turned to go back via Gill Brook.

The overlook at Indian Head is amazing, colors were just past peak. Fish hawks cliffs was not crowded and somehow we had Rainbow Falls all to ourselves.

Excellent hike, this was my second time in the last 30 days. Can't say enough good about it. Not difficult - except, the night before there were heavy rains and the trail was covered in fresh leaves, since we were early there was a few spots by Fish Hawk Cliffs that we were unsure which way the trail went. Other than that - such a fun hike and awesome colors and waterfalls for miles.

hiking
4 months ago

Gotta say, nothing beats a view like this!

hiking
4 months ago

Definitely a perfect low effort high payoff hike. Hiked this on 10/9/18 and the foliage is definitely at its peak. Don't let the 11 mile length scare you, over half of this trail is a literal walk in the park. Once you actually get to the trailhead you follow the trail along the Gill Brook for some beautiful little waterfalls until you get to the last mile, where you gain enough elevation to call it a hike, but nothing you'll find daunting if you're accustomed to other hikes in the ADKs. Would hike this over and over again for the view from the summit because it is so SO easy! Took four and a half hours but me and my friend were doing quite a bit of stopping to identify some trees and check out the chickadees and kingfishers along the way, as well and enjoy the brook. We went out and back instead of looping and it measured 9.2 miles. Can’t recommend enough!

4 months ago

Amazing view at Indian Head summit and the multiple water falls along ausable river!

hiking
4 months ago

This hike will spoil me for other hikes. The Gill Brook Trail in particular was just one spectacular waterfall after another, and the trail surface was soft and grippy for the most part. The view from Indian Head was stunning, as advertised... however, if you do this hike any time that’s not a hot summer day, I would recommend packing a windbreaker (both jacket and pants) because it really whips out there on that ledge; I wish I’d had one so I could have stayed up there longer and drink in the views in comfort. We never did get around to Rainbow Falls. The return trail gets narrow and not well blazed in places; we got the sense as we hiked up that everyone else was doing an out-and-back rather than a loop, since we didn’t see any of our fellow hikers after the summit. The whole thing took us 7 hours total. The Adirondacks are beyond compare. (I should mention that there had been quite a lot of rain the week before we went, so that may have made the waterfalls even more dramatic!)

hiking
4 months ago

What a great hike, I took the Gilbrook trail up to Indian head. The trail was fairly easy, it was a bit more work at the top, right after the ladders, but not that bad. The falls were spectacular and the views at the top were amazing. FYI, when they say don't-they mean it, am now the proud owner of a parking ticket!

hiking
4 months ago

Hands down the most beautiful hike I have ever down. The views are unreal

4 months ago

Hiked this trail last Sunday, so many things to see! Throughout the day we stumbled upon many waterfalls and bridges. Once you get to Indian Heads peak, breath taking! Awesome views! Great hike:)

hiking
4 months ago

I did this hike with a group on Saturday 9/22/2018. We got the Ausable Club around 9:30am and we took the last legal parking spot. Another car in our group had to drive up 1/4mile and park in the next parking lot. The NYS Conservation Officer was giving tickets and redirecting people away from the full lots.

The trail is follows the Ausable Club private road for 3 miles. The signage is clear. We walked to Rainbow falls, and thanks to the heavy rains the night before the falls were incredible! Our guide (ADK 46er) said this was the best he'd seen the falls in 20+ years. Just awesome. The spray was refreshing. We passed a few people on the tight pass going to/from the falls, and we stayed for a few minutes. We had a snack overlooking the lake and took in all the beauty. We headed back on the trail and followed signs to Indian head.

The trail to Indian Head was easy only steep towards the end. Lovely trail, lots of offshoots to other trails - easy to follow and understand. The view at Indian Head was breathtaking. Just perfect. Can't say enough about it. The overlook was crowded, but still amazing. Maybe 30+ people, we were all enjoying the same view of the wilderness in our own ways.

We followed signs to Gill Brook Trail and walked along the stream for miles - that was beautiful as well.

We had some slower hikers in our group, from start to finish it was 7 hours. We also saw tens of cars with tickets on them when we returned; all the cars with tickets were indeed parked around 'no parking at any time' signs.

Overall an excellent hike and I can't wait to hike it again!

hiking
4 months ago

August 29, 2017 took Gill Brook trail up to Indian Head and Boathouse/road trail back. Took 4.5 hrs round trip. Good trail signage. Gill Brook trail is beautiful, small waterfalls. Killer view of Ausable Lakes at top.

hiking
5 months ago

The most amazing view I have seen in the Adirondacks! My girlfriend and I did this hike on Saturday. It was definitely a little strange walking through the country club, but it is a pretty place and nice to look at. The road up to the trailhead is nice too, just keep an eye out for cars/buses coming and going. We finished the hike in about 5.5 hours with a long ~45 minutes at the top. It was hot as hell so we took the road back once down to the boat dock area. My girlfriend is not a regular hiker so it took us a little more time than more experienced folks. Somehow we had the overlook all to ourselves for about 10 minutes. It is definitely a popular hike, but once you get up there it makes sense why! Highly recommend!

5 months ago

Fantastic view on top - nice easy walk next to a river.

hiking
5 months ago

It took us 4:30 hours to finish the loop (actually we cut short the second half as many other hikers by taking the road back) and the views from Indian head did not disappoint us.

hiking
5 months ago

Absolutely beautiful and breathtaking views!!! Rainbow Falls was gorgeous! This trail was pretty easy, with the exception of the last mile (or so) to the view point, then it was moderate. As 2 experienced hikers, it took us about 5.5 hours to complete including a 30 minute stop at Indian Head and 15 mins at Rainbow Falls. There was really no guidance as to how to get to the trail from the parking area. You have to walk a pretty good distance through a golf course before actually getting to a trail, then it’s about 3 miles of steady gravel road (with bus traffic) before getting to a small sign that says Indian Head to the left. Once you get to the wooded portion, it’s much more interesting, with little falls sprinkled throughout. The views are definitely worth the hike! The most difficult part of this hike is it’s longevity. While Indian Head was beautiful and peaceful, Rainbow Falls made everything worth it for me. It was so serene and beautiful! Highly recommended!

5 months ago

Beautiful trail. I loved hearing and seeing the the water all along the trail. Very peaceful!

5 months ago

Hiked it on August 19, 2018...just beautiful. Lots of amazing mushrooms and views. My friends and I are making it an annual hike

5 months ago

great hike for all levels, very pretty trail(once you get on it) and the view from Indian head is iconic! Had perfect weather today with no black or horse flies. can't wait to do it again in the fall :)

hiking
5 months ago

It is pretty. Very fjord like for sure. It is also getting very popular. I watched 2 tourists posing for 10-15 mins taking (what seemed like) hundreds of photos of themselves. Their faces were buried in their phones, saw them look up at the view maybe twice. There was also another group of French Canadians playing their music pretty loud at the top. I understand everyone has a different idea on what makes a hike enjoyable and I'm usually okay with it, but only as long as it doesn't interfere with anyone else's trail experience.

Definitely the best non-46er view in the ADK's but word seems to be getting out about this place. Do Not expect to be alone on this hill. With the increased foot traffic comes increased trail debris as well unfortunately. I had to carry down 2 shirts, a gatorade bottle, a flip flop?, and countless food wrappers. Very disappointing.

Maybe posting up a Summit steward on peak days throughout the summer? I'd volunteer lol.

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike , awesome view , really recommend it to anyone who loves pretty scenic and waterfalls.

6 months ago

Beautiful hike. Not the most interesting or challenging trails, but the payoff at Indian Head is one of the prettiest views in New York in my opinion. A great hike

hiking
6 months ago

Easy trail, also went to Beaver Meadow falls. Rainbow falls is absolutely lovely and the view from Indian Head is amazing. Weather was perfect as well. Would do this again

6 months ago

Rainbow falls and the view from Indian head both well worth the trip.

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful hike ! Long but easy. I took three non hikers and we all had a good time. The pictures really don’t do it justice. We decided to walk all the way on Lake Rd to intersect the trail to Indian Head and save some mileage. Will definitely visit again!

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