Monday, October 24, 2011

Grass River Waterfalls

Basford Falls photo © Donna Mason-Spier
Grass River - Tooley Pond Tract Waterfalls - © Dave Spier

The blog description promised Adirondack geology. This is offered as a down payment.

The South Branch of the Grass River descends the Adirondack dome as it crosses St. Lawrence County and merges with other branches on their way to Massena where the Grass nearly converges with the Raquette River before joining the St. Lawrence River. A particularly accessible section of the South Branch along Tooley Pond Road contains a number of attractive waterfalls.

For geology nuts, the exposed bedrock between DeGrasse and upstream at Clarksboro and beyond is hornblende-biotite granitic gneiss [designated as hbg on the Adirondack Geologic Map prepared by the N.Y.S. Museum]. Like much of the Adirondacks, it is metamorphic, changed by heat and pressure during the Grenville collision roughly 1100 million years ago. Hornblende and biotite mica are dark minerals that give the gneiss a streaky or banded appearance in cross-section. Granitic gneiss contains some quartz in addition to the light-colored feldspar minerals. The Adirondacks are a southeastern extension of the Grenville Province, the eastern portion of the Canadian Shield.

For waterfall nuts, Tooley Road can be accessed from Route 3 just west of Cranberry Lake and going north through Cook Corners, but we sometimes prefer going around and taking County Road 27 from Fine to DeGrasse, turning right toward Clare and then taking Tooley Pond Road from its west end.

At 1.4 miles, there’s a woodland trail to Basford Falls. It’s maybe a half-mile? walk with a descent to some very old white pines as you reach the falls.  The following Basford Falls photos are © Donna Mason-Spier:

top of Basford Falls - photo © Donna Mason-Spier

At 2.0 miles, there’s a parking area and information kiosk for Sinclair Falls, but save yourself a few steps by driving west on Lake George Road and parking just before the bridge. Sinclair is more of a long, curving slide than steep drop, but impressive none-the-less. The following Sinclair Falls photos are © Donna Mason-Spier:

At 3.1 miles, Tooley Pond Road goes uphill past a side channel at Twin Falls. This involves almost no walking, but a little exploring will find the remains of an old mill. (A viewing point below the main falls is posted.) The following Twin Falls photos are © Donna Mason-Spier:

At 3.3 miles, the road passes Stewart Rapids which can be seen from the shoulder. Continuing to 3.5 miles, the trail to Bulkhead Falls is now overgrown and nearly impossible to find, so I’ll save that for another time when I can scan some old slides.

At 6.1 miles, stop for Rainbow Falls. There’s an old clearing set off by boulders and a trail along an old road for maybe a quarter mile to a footbridge over a side channel. Once on the island there are several trails, but be very careful when you reach the cliff with overlooks; there are no railings and wet footing can be slippery. The following Rainbow Falls photos are © Donna Mason-Spier:

from the footbridge to Rainbow Falls - photo © Donna Mason-Spier

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