Wanika Falls Bushwhack from Nye

Wanika Falls Bushwhack from Nye

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 44.19328°N / 74.03412°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Bushwhack
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 4
Sign the Climber's Log


Nye/Street col CripplebrushCol
MudRat at the Nye VlyNye Vly
Below the Nye VlyBelow the Nye Vly
Nye Drainage Slab LedgesTypical Slab
Chubb River CascadeTypical Cascade
Nye Drainage SlabMore Slab
Wanika FallsWanika Falls

This route will require the hiker to spot a car. Since it is easier to bushwhack going downhill, that is the way I have described the route below. Obviously, the other way is to hike in the opposite direction.

Begin your trek at the High Peaks Information Center. From the parking lot, walk towards the toll booth and take the trail on the other side of the road. Follow the trail around Heart Lake, past the Nature Center and the first intersection with the Mt. Jo loop. On the far side of the lake, sign in at the register. Approximately 500 feet further, take the intersecting trail on the right (I believe it is marked “Old Nye Ski Trail”). If you intersect a trail on the left that loops around the lake, you’ve gone too far. Once on the old ski trail, you will soon see a trail on your right that is part of the Mt. Jo loop. Continue on the herdpath straight ahead. You will begin a slow descent to Indian Pass Brook. Cross the brook and continue on the herdpath on the far side.

Note that Indian Pass Brook may be impassible during high water. This is another good reason for completing the in this direction. If the water is high, you can turn around and hike something else… but if you come from the other side at the end of a long hike, you’re screwed.

After crossing the brook, the herdpath will gradually ascend through open hardwood forests. The grade will get steeper as the herdpath ascends up one of the ridges on Nye. Soon after the grade eases, you’ll reach the plateau on the southern flank of Nye where the herdpaths to the Nye and Street summits intersect. On a tree trunk at this intersection, you’ll see arrows for Nye (N) and Street (S). The summit of Nye is only about 5 easy minutes from this point. Continue on the herdpath to Street. You’ll go up and down a couple of small knolls before descending to the actual col. From the col, it is about a 10 minute ascent to the summit of Street.

Route Description

Heading west from the col, attempt to stay at the lowest elevation. This area is characterized by hardened branches and lots of blowdown, so the going is tough. Stay in the woods, don't get suckered into trying to walk through the "open" blowdown areas. These areas may look inviting, but just below the small fir trees are entangled trunks and branches of flattened dead trees, and certain routes through the mess are nearly impassible.

If you were able to stay at the lowest elevation, you will come upon a wet meadow/bog that I named the Nye Vly. Following a deer path, to the hiker’s right, I was able to walk on top of the mat of vegetation to the other side. NOTE: THE GROUND IS NOT SOLID. IT IS A FLOATING MAT OF VEGETATION. DO NOT WALK ON THE MAT IF CONDITIONS ARE DIFFERENT THAN WHAT I EXPERIENCED. Find the drainage below the vly. The remainder of your hike will either parallel or be in this drainage.

The rocks in this section of thee drainage are moss-covered and slippery, and thus didn’t make for a good route; so stay in the woods on the right side of the drainage. You will have to weave around numerous obstacles, but there shouldn’t be many barriers to go over, under, or through.

If you notice the woods getting thicker, check going in the drainage. The drainage is characterized by cascading waterfalls, shallow pools, and extensive sloping slabs. The rock is generally good. On my descent, I found it got slippery only in one short section near a tributary coming off Street.

When the brook begins branching, try to stay to the right and be on the lookout for some impressive cliffs to hiker’s right. I don’t have any experience at technical rock climbing, but I believe these cliffs may have a few fun routes.

Shortly after the cliffs you will reach the top of Wanika Falls. Obviously, take all precautions when approaching the top of a 100-foot waterfall. At the top of the falls, head into the woods at hiker’s left and descend on an obvious herdpath to base of the upper falls. In low water conditions, it is possible to scramble from the top of the lower falls to the campsite island below. Otherwise, continue down the herdpath..

Once on the campsite island, head downstream and take the trail on hiker’s right. The trail will cross the main brook, and soon after you will reach the marked NPT. Head right, and in approximately 7 miles you’ll reach the Averyville trailhead.

Essential and Recommended Gear

Spring/Summer/Fall: Approach shoes (trail runners) for the trails and herdpaths, water shoes for the drainage. Also eye protection, long sleeves, and pants for the bushwhack.

Winter: Agressive snowshoes, 10-pt crampons, and ice axe.

Climbing Seasons

Visit ADK’s High Peak webpage for current weather and trail conditions. Also try the Views From the Top forum for current trail conditions as reported by fellow hikers.

SPRING: This route is not practical due to cold high water during snow melt. Hikers could stay in the woods instead of the drainage, but the bushwhacking is brutal with countless sodholes. The brook is a likely blackfly breeding ground. Typical blackfly season is Memorial Day (late May) to Independence Day (early July). However, seeing the swollen falls during spring melt may make a hike from the NPT Averyville trailhead a worthwhile experience.
SUMMER: Expect hot muggy weather, but what better route than one where you’re walking in water! Although downpours are always a possibility, this drainage does not have many areas where a hiker would be in danger during a flash flood.
FALL: Other than colder air and water temperatures, fall would be a good time to attempt this route.
WINTER: This would be a feasible route in the winter. However, the hiker would need to overcome numerous icy waterfalls and should beware of hollow ice over pools. Expect challenging trailbreaking through deep snow in the woods.

Personal Experience

In July 2007, I soloed this route but stayed in the woods instead of walking in the drainage. It was a huge mistake. In August 2008, MudRat and I descended the route as described above, starting at the High Peaks Information Center and ending at the NPT’s Averyville trailhead. I find it amazing how two tracks 100 feet apart could be so vastly different.



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