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Hanging Spear Falls Loop Hike

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  • Hanging Spear Falls Loop Hike

    Looking for some assistance/recommendation on a hike I read about a few years back.

    Start out at Upper Works, take the Opalescent Trail to Lake Colden. Then circle back to Upper Works parking lot via Calamity Brook Trail.

    Was wondering if this can be done as a day hike as well as if this is the best route for making a round trip to Colden. Any other things that might help in
    planning my trip would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Sure, that trip can be done as a day hike. Lots and lots of relatively flat walking on seldom traveled trails.

    If you are talking about a trip to Mount Colden, no, this is not the best route. The best (easiest) route to Mount Colden is from Adirondack Loj.


    • #3
      Thank you

      Much thanks for helping me out on planning this trip.

      Always appreciated.


      • #4
        It can be done as a day hike but be aware that it's a bit longer of a hike- I'd get an early start for sure.

        Note that you do end up having to ford the Opalescent River twice- once at the outlet of Flowed Lands and once where the East River Trail crosses the river just upstream on the confluence with Dudley Brook. Unless it's been particularly dry for an extended period, I'd be prepared to get your feet wet at both crossings. And the lower of these two crossings especially can be challenging- if not dangerous- after heavy rains.

        You'll likely see few- if any- people on the stretch of the trail between where the Allen herd path branches off and the outlet of Flowed Lands. This is a seldom used trail and it is brushy in spots but for the most part it's not too difficult to follow.

        If you wanted to make an overnight out of it, there is a designated tent site along the Opalescent River about a mile or so north of the junction with the Allen herd path. It's an ok site- decent flat ground with room for maybe 1 or 2 small tents. There's also the lean-tos at Flowed Lands- the Griffin and especially Livingston Point lean-tos get relatively less use than the lean-tos further north, and there's a nice designated tent site near the Livingston Point lean-to also. And lastly, there's a couple of designated tent sites along the Calamity Brook Trail that receive low to moderate levels of use. (If you do decide to overnight anywhere along this loop, don't forget your bear canister and remember fires are prohibited).

        Both Hanging Spear Falls and Flowed Lands offer the potential for some phenomenal scenery along the way. Be careful at Hanging Spear Falls- folks have gotten trapped at the base of the falls before. It's a slippery scramble down to the bottom and it's not always easy (or safe) to be able to climb back out again. Fortunately there is an overlook above the falls that you can safely access via a side trail to take in nice views of the falls without putting yourself at risk.

        Also worth knowing where the Henderson memorial is along the Calamity Brook Trail so that you don't miss it. (And if you keep your eyes peeled, there's an old truck fender sitting next to the Calamity Brook Trail not far from Calamity Pond that hints at the area's history... this trail was indeed once a road!)

        Originally posted by TCD View Post
        If you are talking about a trip to Mount Colden, no, this is not the best route. The best (easiest) route to Mount Colden is from Adirondack Loj.
        I could be wrong, but I read their post as them asking about Lake Colden, not Mt. Colden.

        I think it's slightly shorter to access Lake Colden from the Loj via Avalanche Pass, but that approach is definitely more rugged than the Calamity Brook/Flowed Lands approach... Honestly, I'd say that the two approaches to Lake Colden (Loj vs Upper Works) are about even in terms of overall difficulty, albeit for different reasons. But I will also add that for all of it's ruggedness, Avalanche Pass/Lake is stunningly beautiful.


        • #5
          Thank You

          Thanks for the detailed report DSettahr - it will help a lot during the planning of our trip.


          • #6
            Originally posted by DSettahr View Post
            ... and there's a nice designated tent site near the Livingston Point lean-to also. ...
            @DSettahr - It's interesting that you mention this campsite by the Livingston Point lean-to. I noticed it on the 13th edition of the ADK High Peaks map, but it is not depicted on either the 14th or 15th editions of same. Additionally, I don't see it on Gaia, Dack Map, or Caltopo. You're saying it's definitely still there, marked out, and legal?

            From the 13th edition of the map, it looks like the campsite is on the southern side of Livingston Pond, quite near the outlet from Flowed Lands and the East River Trail. Is that correct, or is it indeed farther north and closer to the lean-to itself?

            Additionally, I have heard that it is passable to go straight from the Livingston Point lean-to north/northeast and connect to Herb Brooks' lean-to and/or the trails and campsites just south/southwest of Colden Dam, rather than hiking clockwise around all of Flowed Lands. Do you know if that's accurate?

            Thanks for any insight.


            • #7
              The designated campsite is definitely there- I was standing in it 2 days ago. :-) It got pretty over grown, obscured with blowdown, and difficult to locate, hence it's removal from the maps. More recently it has been remarked and cut open again, and is much easier to find now. It's very close to the lean-to- perhaps a few hundred feet south of the lean-to, on the west side of the trail, with some nice views over the marshes.

              It is possible to bushwhack between Livingston Point and the Opalescent Lean-to, but there's no established herd path that will take you the full way through. A good chunk of this route forces you to cross the marshes of Flowed Lands- I'd go with the expectation that you'll likely get very wet feet.


              • #8
                I am planning an overnight trip into the area and was thinking that campsite looked like a nice, less used option as a plan B. Plan A is the two campsites on the west side of Flowed Lands right by the Calamity lean-to. Not sure how quickly those will get taken on a September weekend.

                My plan is to hike a couple of the high peaks just east of there, but bushwhacking through marsh is probably not the most conducive way to either begin or end a peak-bagging sortie.

                Thus, I guess my plan will be to try the two Flowed Lands/Calamity leant-to campsites, and if those are taken to proceed around the north side of Flowed Lands and look for open spots around the Opalescent lean-to, Colden Dam, and surroundings. I prefer a tent site and don?t have any interest in lean-tos at the moment.

                I?ve heard very nice things about the Livingston Point area and will probably go there for an overnight sometime, but probably not as part of a peak bagging trip.

                Thanks again for the information.