A beautiful surprise

A view from the top of the waterfalls. Photo by Phil Brown.
A view from the top of the waterfalls. Photo by Phil Brown.

I went missing for five days recently. I was out canoeing on various waterways in the western Adirondacks. One day I took two trips on the West Branch of the Oswegatchie. On the second of those trips, I paddled through several ponds owned, largely or entirely, by the Oswegatchie Educational Center, a nonprofit institution in the middle of the woods run by the Future Farmers of America.

This was on Day 4 of my mini-vacation. By then I was pretty much sated with scenery. I was thinking to myself that I really needed to see something spectacular to rouse me from my aesthetic torpor. And I did.

After exiting Mud Pond near Long Pond Road, I portaged around a small waterfall and paddled less than a mile downstream to the head of another falls. I pulled over and walked to the middle of a footbridge across the river. I was stunned by the view: the river was washing over pink-gray slabs of gneiss, dropping into a dark pool, and then winding away through a lush-green marsh. It was one of the most enchanting scenes I have come across. The photo above doesn’t do it justice: I’m a lousy photographer, and the light wasn’t right. But I hope it serves as a reminder of the unexpected beauty that can turn up on any day in the Adirondacks.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Harvey44 says

    I’ve always dreamed about dragging a Hornbeck through that country. Looks pretty.

    This may seem like an odd question. When paddling on the “O” in a boat like a Hornbeck where you sit a water level … can you see above the marsh grass?

  2. Jason says

    If you continue past Iota/Iota Falls, the waters are relatively shallow and lead through the area’s heavily populated bear region, past an old resort (from the 1800’s) this route will take you into the Carthage reservoir where you can get into the Indian River and Jerden Creek which will lead you to Jerden Falls.

  3. Phil says

    Jason, a guy on Adk FOrum says it’s Iowa Falls. Where did you hear the name Iota?

    Harvey … I don’t think the views from a Hornbeck are much different from the views from a standard canoe.

  4. Darren Z says

    A friend camped at this same location on one of his recent Adirondacks canoe trips, and it’s been on my agenda for two years now.

    I’m glad I found this article.

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