My first hike when I was 16 years old was at Plotter Kill Preserve. I grew up in Schenectady, a small city in New York. This was just about the only wooded area in town! To this day it is still my favorite hike. I know the trail like the back of my hand, but every time I go I see something new and the waterfalls always look different. The loop around the entire trail is rated as moderate and is 5.5 miles, and features 3 waterfalls. I personally love hiking in to the first waterfall and then climbing the side of the gorge wall to get to the other 2 cascades. It makes the whole trip about 2 miles, with a much steeper descent to the falls. To get to the top of the first fall, follow the blue trail. You’ll go over a bridge at the beginning of the trail and it is fairly well marked.
Once you see the top, continue on the blue trail for about a half mile and there will be a sharp right turn. *It is easy to miss because the trail also continues straight.* Take that trail down to the creek. You will see a set of small waterfalls once you’re at the base of the trail. Turn right and walk up the creek (your feet will definitely get wet) to the base of the first waterfall.
To take the “gorge trail,” turn around and follow the creek on the left hand side, all the way until you see the top of the second falls. There is a steep climb down to the second falls, but luckily Mother Nature is on your side because she placed roots so perfectly you always have something to grab onto as you make your way down. It’s worth the extra effort!!!
One more waterfall to go! Keep to the left of the creek again. Just around the next bend is the prettiest waterfall, in my opinion. It’s more narrow at the top and creates the prettiest flow of water. Sometimes this one will be dried up in mid July into August, unless we’ve had a rainy spring and summer. This year it is still raging!
Note: DO NOT hike the gorge trail if we have had heavy rains, or if it is raining. I’ve gotten stuck down there! The mud is so slippery, you continue to slide and let me tell you it isn’t pretty. So avoid this trail if it’s too wet, and take the regular loop.