Indian Head & Rainbow Falls - Keene Valley, NY
I had seen photos of this hike on instagram and was just in awe by the views and right from that I added it to my list of hikes I wanted to accomplish.
We woke up early on July 5th and headed up to Keene Valley, NY. It took us about an 1 hr 40 minutes to get there so we were there nice and early.
I had never hiked any where near the high peak region but WOW is it beautiful. Just the walk to the trailhead is breathtaking with all the big mountain tops.
(pic below shows the view from just the walk to the trailhead)
The walk to the trailhead honestly feels like you've missed the turn or are going the wrong way - I actually asked my boyfriend about 50 times if he was sure this was right as we walked down the gravel road by a golf course and country club. This walk probably is about a mile to the trailhead. There is a little tiny sign in the ground that says Indian Head with an arrow pointing to the left so that you can see you're on the right path.
We signed in and continued down another road. Slight incline but nothing crazy until we hit the Gill Brook Trail and that's where the hiking begins.
This trail is very meandering, up and down following a creek on your left hand side. We stopped here for a snack and to check out this nice little waterfall.
(below is the small waterfall on Gill Brook Trail)
There's a few times where the trail approaches a sign that says "scenic route" or "short route" options early on - take the scenic route, it's not much longer in the slightest and you see lots of the creek and small falls on the path. It's worth it.
The route to the summit isn't bad at all. Mainly a lot of walking in the woods, and right before the top there's some steep boulder climbing and a small ladder.
The views are INSANE. By far my favorite hike I've done so far and cannot wait to do it again because man those views are rewarding.
We had a white claw and sandwich at the summit and relaxed for probably about 30-45 minutes at the top. This is much longer than I normally sit at the summit, but with views like that it was difficult to leave!
From here - we took the route to Rainbow Falls, which if you have the time BE SURE TO DO!
The route to the falls was fairly simple, pretty steep descent down from Indian Head and then some up and down hiking through the woods. The bridge to Rainbow Falls is closed (as of June 2020) for construction, so we read online prior to the hike that you can cross the river stones to get over to the falls which we did. If you don't feel comfortable with this, there is also a detour you can take to get there which adds a couple of miles to your hike.
Rainbow falls is just beautiful. Nice and quiet we sat on some rocks by the falls, cooled off and hung out for a bit.
After this is the LONG route back. The route back is very long but scenic, bridges, ponds, waterfalls, but by this point you start to get quite fatigued. We stopped for a quick break at Beaver Meadow Falls which was yet another stunning waterfall.
The total hike was almost 12.5 miles by the time we got back to the car and we were pooped to say the least!
The hike itself isn't difficult, but it's rated difficult due to its length. If you don't think you can handle the 12.5 mile day (6.5 hours est. for an avg pace with stops), just do the hikes individually out and back - they are most definitely worth it!