Sunday, December  9, 2018
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Next up along this side of the Ausable Valley was Beaver Meadow Falls - one of the nicer, larger falls in the Central High Peaks. It is 60-ish feet high, narrow at the top and widening out as it cascades over many ledges. Elegant and especially pretty at this moment - noon - when the sun perfectly illuminated all of it - even casting a nice little mini rainbow in the mist at its base. Wonderful.
Beaver Meadow Falls
Admiring Nature
One nice aspect of our loop was its secludedness. Not many people do a hike where the destination is the East or West River trails and the valley itself. Mostly folks are aiming to get up to high ground and summits on either side. Beaver Meadow Falls is one such spot where this higher-altitude traffic intersects with our quieter, lower-altitude route (ie - there were some other hikers here).

Rather than continue on the East River Trail, we next turned up the trail to Gothics, but just for about 2 or 300 metres (yards) or so, until we reached the junction with the trail to Lost Lookout. This is another loop - like the Cathedral Rocks loop - that takes a higher course above the river to reach a feature - in this case, a spot called Lost Lookout. I remembered from a hike many years ago that this lookout provided a great view towards Lower Ausable Lake.
To Lost Lookout
Lost Lookout #1
Noonmark and Burn
I had forgotten that there are actually two lookouts at Lost Lookout - one looking south and providing a view of Dial and Noonmark, and another, providing that great view towards Lower Ausable Lake.
Lost Lookout #2
Lower Ausable Lake
I pointed out the next bits of our valley loop hike from the lookout to Rae - the dam at the end of the lake (just visible from where we were), and the hump of Indian Head rising above it. It all looked fairly far away, Rae noted, but based on our very rapid hiking speed, I was confident it wouldn't take long at all to reach them.
Ausable Lake Dam
Crossing the Ausable
Lower Ausable Lake
I was right about the speed - it took us only twenty-five minutes to get from Lost Lookout down to the dam at Lower Ausable Lake, and then - after a short donut/energy break - another twenty-five minutes to get to the top of Indian Head - including an ill-advised side trip to the "Gothic Window", which is essentially an exercise in trying to peer through blowdown at the skyline of the Great Range.
Start of Indian Head climb
Gothic Window
Ascent to Indian Head
On a day like today, the view from Indian Head is fairly spectacular - a deep blue, fjord-like finger of water stretching away to the southwest, framed on both sides by the steep slopes of Mt Colvin and Sawteeth. The open bedrock and sharp edge of the lookout offer an exhilarating, airy perch from which to relax and have lunch - which is exactly what we did.
Indian Head Lookout
Gothics and Great Range
Amazing Ausable Valley View
We now began the return segment of our Ausable Valley Loop, and for this, I chose the steep connector trail leading steeply down from Indian Head to Gill Brook, a cascade-and-pool dotted watercourse that nicely angled precisely in our intended return direction. And when I say cascade-and-pool dotted, I mean it. From the point along our intersection with the Gill Brook trail to Lake Road, we were treated to an endless succession of short waterfalls, little watery slides, pretty pools, stepped and polished bedrock - in all shapes and sizes. A veritable water playground!
Descending to Gill Brook
One of many
Scenic or Easy?
The Scenic Choice
Our pleasant brook-side descent came to an end at Lake Road. Gill Brook continues alongside the road here, but is much less interesting. It was simply now a matter of briskly walking back down the road to the gate, and the completion of the loop portion of our outing.
Lake Road
Lake Road Gate
Standard Golf Course / Giant View
We signed out at the gate's trail register and walked back through the country-club atmosphere of cottages, tennis courts, and golf course - arriving back at the car shortly before 4pm - a bit later than we had intended, but nevertheless quite happy with the satisfying nature of this hike. A testament to the fact that reaching a high summit is not necessary for a fulfilling Adirondack hike. And if you like water stuff (or "waterage", as my friend Asmir likes to describe it), well... you *really* can't go wrong with this one.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Ausable Valley Hike - click map to view

Ausable Valley Loop - Hike Data
Start Time:
Start Elevation:
1257ft (383m) *
End Time:
Max Elevation:
2693ft (821m) *
Min Elevation:
1254ft (382m) *
18.51 km (11.5 mi)
End Elevation:
1260ft (384m) *
Average Speed:
2.5 km/hr (1.5 mph)
* : +/- 75 feet
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