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The Tooley pond road runs from county route 27 in DeGrasse NY to US route 3 in Cranberry lake NY. This was originally a stage coach trail, leading to the south woods, of Cranberry lake, Tupper lake, and Wannakena. In the 1860’s it was being settled, with communities in Clarksboro, supporting an iron mine, and Newbridge, where logging was the main occupation. Both enterprises were short lived, but renewed later-again with little commercial success. There will be an upcoming article on the Clarksboro community.
Today it is a popular destination for outdoor activities. Hunting, hiking, kayaking, fishingand canoeing enthusiast all can find something here. Recent New York state D.E.C. purchases and easements have opened much of this to the public. I visited the seven accessible falls, shortly after a January thaw and some heavy rain. It certainly made the falls even more memorable. The longest hike is 7/10 of a mile round trip, and fairly easy walking for most people.
From the D.E.C. website
Tooley Pond Conservation Easement
In 1999 the State of New York purchased 29,000 acres in fee and an additional 110,000 acres of conservation easements from Champion International Corporation. This acquisition consists of three noncontiguous blocks, known as the Santa Clara, Tooley Pond and Croghan tracts, covering portions of ten towns in Franklin, St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Lewis Counties. The fee lands were purchased for their outstanding natural resource values, significant stretches of high quality recreational water, and other recreational opportunities. The acquisition of a conservation easement on the remaining lands will keep those lands as working forests while providing public recreation opportunities. This web page deals exclusively with the Tooley Pond Tract portion of these lands. http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/8084.html
HOW TO GET THERE
Take St. Lawrence county RT 27 into the hamlet of DeGrasse, and the Tooley pond road is 200 yards North of the bridge over the Grasse river. These mileages are taken from the DeGrasse end of the Tooley pond road. You can also access the Tooley Pond road from NYS RT3 in Cranberry lake, across from Riverside road.
Basford falls is located 1.4 miles from the DeGrasse end of the Tooley pond road. It’s a pretty easy .7 (round trip) trail to the falls. Once you start down the hill to the falls, you’ll go through some awesome white pine trees. Well worth the trip, even if you are not going to visit the other falls on the road.
This is at the intersection of the Lake George road. A few hundred yards walk will take you to the falls. From the intersection if you walk a 1/10 th of a mile to the top of the hill, a short bushwhack through the hemlocks on your right will take you to upper Sinclair falls. There is a swamp parallel with the road & river, which is why you need to go up the road to high ground.
This is the sight of the now defunct Clarksboro iron mines. You can see the smaller side of the falls, right from the road. This part was blasted to create a flume, to provide water power for the blast furnace bellows. Some of the stone-work can still be seen today. The main falls can be better seen with a little bush-wacking. (Look for an upcoming article on Clarksboro).
These are just up the road from Twin falls, and easily seen from the road. There is no trail, but you can see the river from the road. A bush-whack of a hundred yards or so will have you there. We left the car at twin falls, and walked up the road to Stewart’s rapids and Bulkhead falls.
Again you can see the river from the road, and a short bush-whack will get you to the waters edge. There is a decent herd path to Bulkhead right next to a no motorized vehicle sign. A few hundred yard takes you to the base of the falls. You can follow the river upstream to see different views of the fall, and come out right next to the road. Look for signs of porcupine activity as you go past a boulder field close to the road.
The trailhead is unmarked, look for a line of boulders on the right blocking off a small landing. When you pass the canoe carry signs on your right- you are fairly close. The trail is .71 miles round trip, and moderately easy for most. When you get to the river, there is a small footbridge across a side channel. Follow the herd trail (and your ears) a little further and you will find the falls. We did this in winter, so be cautious of the ice, a fall here could be ugly! These are the tallest of the falls you’ll see on this trip. These were spectacular with the ice & high water. If you get there mid-morning on a sunny day, you’ll see why it was named rainbow falls. The sun makes a beautiful rainbow in the mist below the falls.
Copper rock falls
This is the only one on the left side of the road. It’s just a short hike back to the river, and the trail is well marked. It’s a lazy series of falls, and was running quite high when we were there, due to heavy rains this past week, and probably some ice jams downstream from us. The name comes from the copper colored spots on the rocks here, most likely from rusted iron ore content. I understand that there are more falls & rapids (Brumagin & Long Rapids), a few miles upstream. This is a hike for another day, possibly an October one when the leaves are changing. During an October hike here in high water, a friend was seeing trout jumping upstream.
While hiking upstream of these falls, we came to two more falls, less than a quarter mile further. The maps don’t label these, and I am in the process of trying to find out the names (if they even have been named).
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For more information, go to Northern New York Waterfalls – they have everything you need to get you started on these or any other waterfalls in the area.
About the Author
I am a life-long resident of the north country, calling Edwards my home.I have always had a passion for the outdoors, and for local history. I recently started this site to share places that have been part of our local history and heritage. I hope you get a chance to hike some of these trails for yourself, and reflect on the rich history of those that walked here before you. And if not, sit back and experience these from where ever you are right now. Either way, enjoy!
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