The Hamlet of Colton is located on NY
56, a few miles east of Potsdam. At the intersection
of Main Street, proceed northeast. There are two
parking areas. The first is on the left just before
crossing the bridge. For the second, which is the
preferred route for waterfalls, take the left after
crossing the bridge. There is a lot immediately
behind the fire hall but you want the lot past that.
||Off NY 56 near
|Length of hike:
The Stone Valley Cooperative Recreation Area is located on
property owned by Brookfield Power, although a small portion of it
is on Town of Colton land. The trail network here, which is
well marked and fairly well maintained, is undoubtedly the most
popular nature trail in St. Lawrence County, if not the entire
north country. Publicly accessible, and free to do so, the
area offers hikers, waterfall lovers, kayakers and rock-hounds a
place to remember.
Since the access of all of these falls are from the same place,
we have opted to provide this page for the common information.
There are separate pages for each of the falls. Please note
that although this area is legally named as the Stone Valley
Cooperative Recreation Area, we consider this a common name since
it is not registered on the USGS GNIS. Likewise, none of the
falls here are officially named. Most get their names from
the whitewater community.
There are actually two trails through this area. Our
preference for seeing the waterfalls is the trail that runs from
south to north up the
east side of the river. The trailhead parking for this is
behind the fire hall as described in the directions
side-bar. The west side trail will also give you access to
the river and views of the falls. It is probably debatable,
but we just feel that the waterfall views are a bit better from
the east side. This is also the best route for those looking
for the shortest path to see the waterfalls. There are also
parking areas on both sides of the river at the northern ends of
the trails. These are accessible from the Brown's Bridge
Road, about 3 miles on the Potsdam side of the hamlet of Colton.
A couple of hundred feet in from the parking area behind the
fire hall is a registration kiosk. The hike from here is
"vigorous." Multiple ascents and descents make the
trip moderately strenuous and will give you a good cardio
workout. Of course, you can make the trip at a leisurely
pace. There are plenty of vantage points and places to
rest. To see the falls, you are looking at about a 3-1/2
mile walk. The only disadvantage with this route is that the
falls are over your left shoulder as you walk in. Of course,
you are facing the flow on your return.
pass, in order, Colton Dam, Colton
Falls, two unnamed falls which we refer to SVT Falls 1 and
Falls 2, the Narrows, the Tubs
Lucy's Hole. The rest of the trail is along
fairly level water. For those out to view the waterfalls,
you have hiked about a mile-and-a-half by the time you get to
Lucy's Hole. Most people find they
see sights on their return trip that they missed on the way
down. For those looking for a longer hike, there are several
options. Both the east and west trails are promoted as
being 3.2 miles. You can complete part or all of that and
then return for a total trip of just under 6.5 miles. If
you're looking for something even more, the two south trailheads
are a little less than 1/2 mile apart while the north trailheads
are just under a mile from each other. If you complete
either trail, cross the river and return on the other side, you
have covered about 7.8 miles.
This area is enjoyed by many
during all four seasons. It is a relatively untamed area and
there are no fences or rails separating you from the river.
This is especially noteworthy in the winter when the ice and snow
make things very slippery. In the spring, the water volume
is intense. During periods of lower water in the summer,
several swimming holes beckon.
Maps of the area are available at
registration kiosks. There are also informational signs
along the way that describe the section or perhaps the geology of
the area, which is somewhat unique.
The Raquette River empties into the St. Lawrence River in
Massena, New York.