Barberville Falls

Barberville Falls


Update 2012: The Nature Conservancy is closing access to the falls for summer 2012 because people weren't following the rules.

It's shaping up to be another hot day. Flipping through this photoset Sebastien passed along from the Barberville Falls in Postenkill makes us a feel just a little bit cooler.

Sebastien says he was at the falls last weekend -- and it sounds like he a had a good time. There is a view of the falls from a Nature Conservancy preserve. It might be a fun spot to check out (especially if you include a stop at Moxie's for ice cream).

Earlier on AOA: An even better look at the Cohoes Falls

photo: Sebastien B

Update: This post has prompted an interesting conversation (below) and it's worth reading. It's also worth emphasizing a few points:

+ A significant section of the area around the falls belongs to a private homeowner. Signs on their property clearly indicate people are not to trespass. It appears the homeowners are very serious about this point.

+ The state police will respond when people are seen trespassing.

+ The other section of the area around the falls is owned by the Nature Conservancy. While open to the public, it's still private property -- and there are rules. They're posted onsite. You should follow them.

+ If you do go, you should make sure you are entering the area on the Nature Conservancy land. This entrance is off Blue Factory Road.

+ It's a beautiful spot. It'd be a shame if the conservancy was prompted to restrict access to it because of rules violations.

Find It

Barberville Falls
Plank Rd
Poestenkill, NY 12140

The trail head for the path to the falls is off Blue Factory Road.


The Barberville Falls are great. But parking sucks. The most convenient place to park, near the intersection of Plank Rd and Blue Factory Rd now has a "Park here and you'll be towed" sign.

Gorgeous photos, as always. Barberville Falls is one of my favorite local hidden gems. You feel like you're in a private, tropical paradise! Just don't wear flip-flops. It's a bit of a rugged walk to get there.

That place looks great! It just goes to show that no matter how much I think I know about the Capital Region, I have so much yet to discover.

@J: good point. We parked on the small lot further up Plank Rd, across the Brookside Cemetery.

This site is quickly becoming "All Over Sebastien". How much is he paying you guys? We should be paid for having to read it.

Shhh. No one needs to know about Barberville Falls.

it is very beautiful there but juuuuust a little info some might not know: some of that property is private (in fact one whole side of the falls) so just be careful about how you enter and leave - and where you park. the owners of the property live very close and end up having to deal with some sticky situations. they also find themselves cleaning up the messes other people leave. there are posted signs to tell you where not to go - please heed them. also - clean up after yourself!

i truly believe the saying that when in nature "take only pictures and leave only footsteps". it is what keeps beautiful places...well...beautiful. also the saying "don't be a douche" can be helpful as well.

Excellent photo Sebastien! I have heard of these falls, but have never made it there. With waterfalls being one of my favorite things to shoot, I really need to get out there.

Please note that it is illegal to swim at Barberville Falls. We have had multiple problems this year with people visiting the falls and not following the rules. This includes jumping from the falls, being disrespectful to neighbors, trespassing on private property, littering, drinking alcohol, etc. Those misusing the falls may result in us having to close this site completely. The Sheriff's Department and State Police will be increasing patrols there for the rest of the summer. Those who want to see the falls remain open should help us self police the area and ensure people are respectful that this site is private property. If problems continue, we will have to close public access.

I stopped by yesterday and it is beautiful. Thanks again to Sebastien to pointing it out.

Do heed the warnings about trespassing. As we were leaving, a state trooper was discussing that very issue with a group of people who had been swimming at the base of the falls.

If you park at the cutout across from the cemetery on Plank Road, make sure you walk along the road up to falls trailhead on Blue Factory. All that property in between is private.

That's a shame about the no swimming, it looked like a great place for a dip.

@summer: I think you can read between the lines of an official position here. Besides the obvious (keep the place clean, don't bother the neighbors or trespass), consumption of alcohol and jumping off the falls is most likely prohibited for liability reasons. I'm pretty confident peaceful swimming is tolerated, if you are respectful of the place and the people around.

or how about

"Please note that it is illegal to swim at Barberville Falls. We have had multiple problems this year with people visiting the falls and not following the rules. This includes jumping from the falls, being disrespectful to neighbors, trespassing on private property, littering, drinking alcohol, etc. Those misusing the falls may result in us having to close this site completely. The Sheriff's Department and State Police will be increasing patrols there for the rest of the summer. Those who want to see the falls remain open should help us self police the area and ensure people are respectful that this site is private property. If problems continue, we will have to close public access."

Please dont read between the lines. Everyone's lines are different which is why there is a problem. It's a bummer, I know- but if it was your backyard you wouldn't want people reading in between the lines.

If a waterfall runs in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

I'll take my own responsibilities and read between the lines, especially when the new owner of this natural resource doesn't bother telling me why. Closing access to that kind of resource is a threat, not a privilege. If Barberfalls was *completely* private and closed, and if me or someone else had brought back these photos "illegally", would you have looked away in horror? Would you think we had wasted a minute of your life showing you something beautiful in your own neighborhood?

I don't want this place to be just a 320x240 pixels image on the Conservancy web site. That's not my idea of "conserving". The reason why I should be respectful to the neighbors or rare species goes without saying, but I think I can handle the truth as to why it's illegal to *swim*. It's not that complicated I'm sure. I could even accept giant, mutant man-eating eels.

I've mentioned my weird views on "private property" before with respect to abandoned buildings, and my feeling is the same when it comes to natural resources. I understand the role of protection, and I *guess* somebody reasonable should "own" the falls before somebody dumber does, but if your mission statement includes the words "transparency" and "openly", then please increase the communication before the patrols.

Given two extremes, I'd rather this area go completely open, wild and unmaintained than threatening to close it because this country is so procedural. I want neither to happen, but in that respect a bit of flexibility wouldn't hurt. In the absence of any explanation, I'll just drive a bio-diesel truck in between these lines. If Darwin sends my genes back to the big Pool because I had the smart idea to jump from a 92-foot waterfall or wake up a 15-foot crocodile, the Conservancy should certainly not get in any trouble for that. Not that I would do it, I'm a huge chicken.

The "what if it was your own backyard" argument is old and overused: there is *nothing* in my backyard in Center Square. Not even a tomato plant. If there was a giant waterfall in there, or an old Aztec temple, then we would have a different conversation, absolutely. But as of today, nada.

This reminds me of Saratoga Lake when I started exploring the region. This is a nice big lake but it is hard to find an open beach for somebody unfamiliar with the area because so many entities claimed a piece of property around it. That is just goddamn wrong.

Did I mention the part where I have small issues with private property?

i don't want to continue this too much further and i think if you have issues you can take them up with the Nature Conservancy or the actual owners whose actual backyard it is (not "backyard" but real backyard, meaning it is the land they own behind their house. that they live in. all the time. and deal with people - many people (some not so nice, intelligent and respectful as yourself) on a daily basis who cause problems).

neither group - The Nature Conservancy who own half the falls and the private owners who own the other half of the falls - want you to swim. that is 100% of the equation. so it probably isn't prudent for you to tell people (some who could be not so nice, intelligent and respectful as yourself) in a public forum to do so, no matter what your views on private property are and whether or not you have a tomato plant in your backyard.

I guess I was a bit taken aback by the Nature Conservancy coming here, almost gun blazing. I'm sure the Sheriff has better things to do than to increase the patrols and arrest a few rogue squirrels. Maybe that effort could be put in funneling people more efficiently to the falls instead, I'll email them. It starts with the Conservancy web page itself, with directions that unfortunately (?) end in that parking lot across the cemetery, a half-mile short of the trail. Sure enough, a lot of people carved a path straight from that parking lot through the woods to the falls, probably on private property. What is this big "No parking" area right next to the falls used for? I don't know. Every house around it has driveways. Etc. etc. There is that feeling of not being very welcome :)

More "This way to the falls" signage wouldn't hurt, but that much advertising probably wouldn't fly with the neighbors. Sadly, you can't have your cake and eat it too, especially if it's 92 feet tall. I know my view on that matter is a bit freaky, but to me the big picture is clear as day: that falls have been here forever, not the people. You have to accept you have a great natural resource next to you, that you don't and can't own it, and that other people will want to enjoy it. Including toolbags now and then. If my yet-to-be-grown tomato plant could sing the polka, I would certainly invite you over Nicole.

Anyway. I enjoyed the place, but I'll tell you one last thing that rubbed me the wrong way with the neighborhood, as a photographer. Maybe you didn't see it, it's small but symbolic. The falls were very clean when I took the photos, and I probably have the Conservancy to thank for that too. However, back at home I did delete and/or crop a lot of close up photos shot from the promontory. Not because of trash, not because of bottles or whatnot, but because of a nice bright red sign saying "POSTED: Private Property" planted *right* on a big rock in the waterfall. You can see it to the right in this photo. So there you go, somebody, a neighbor or the Conservancy, decided that his contribution to this waterfall would be a big red sign. On a rock that probably saw hundreds of people like us move in and out, live and die. On a rock that nobody can reach, probably near a house that nobody can see. Thank you, sir.

Slapping a "Private Property" sign on a waterfall is like putting a saddle on a unicorn: it's wrong. This really makes me want to swim *harder* :)

It's obviously a shame that people have behaved poorly enough to warrant this kind of response from the Nature Conservancy and the surrounding property owners. All I know is that I (and most AOA-reading folks, I assume) don't litter, take unnecessary risks like jumping from the top, or make enough noise to bother neighbors. So no matter how illegal it may be, I'm going to keep visiting the falls and swimming there.

Not every law is infallible or even logical. This place is a treasure and, frankly, worth getting arrested for.

This is similar to a situation I had recently. All my young life there were some waterfalls in Clarksville that I would visit with my friends. Other people went there too; to swim, sometimes fish, so I know we weren't the only ones. There were no posted signs, no houses nearby, nobody to be annoyed by our (usually quiet and respectful) presence. I continued to go there right up until a few years ago.
I didn't make it over there for a couple of years or so, and attempted to go back last summer with my husband and dog. It's a great place to relax, with a short, 15 foot tall (or so) waterfall and a decent waist-deep pool at the base. Well, I was heartbroken to discover that in the last couple years, someone had either purchased the property and posted it or the current owner decided to post it as private. Perhaps there was a good reason; perhaps a bunch of asshats went there and behaved poorly. But knowing I would never again get to enjoy the place I had loved for so long sucked. I felt like a friend died.

I find it ....."interesting" that somewhere along the lines of this waterfall's exhistance someone decided that in order to preserve this utopic setting, there must be no swimming allowed. Sure, ban alchohol consumption. Ban littering. (In fact, it irks me terribly to see litter/garbage/things-not-found-in-nature strewn about in any nature setting.) But how can it be warranted to ban swimming by people who enjoy nature and its beauty? If the folk visiting obey property lines, respect any neighbors encountered, park where sanctioned, and leave the place in the wonderful state they found it, then why be fascist about HOW one enjoys said spot? So am I to understand that the Nature Conservancy wants people to walk to the falls to just stand and look at them? Perhaps take a few pictures? And then be on our way? Or was that just a statement made by this Nicole person? Is there a sign put up by the Conservancy itself stating no swimming? Or is it a neighbor's rule? Either way, I have yet to visit this idyllic looking locale, but plan to soon. There are so few un-tainted nature settings left without traveling a great distance from home. And when I visit, I plan to swim my heart out. (Respectfully, of course.) So if for some reason a law enforcement official feels the need to "inflict justice" on me for simply enjoying nature, than so be it. (I mean, it's not like we have drug dealers and murderers to catch. These illegal swimmers are the scum of society!)

I went to the Falls recently, and found out about them through the Conservancy website. The website tells you where to park, and how to get to the Falls. I think it was very clear when you got there that you weren't supposed to park right by the Falls. Also, in the parking lot across from the Cemetery there is a sign with a map on where to walk to get to the Falls. So, -S, you can't say that request wasn't already met.

IMHO, People who shortcut through Private property to get there are douches. Property owners who put up big red signs on one side of a big waterfall, and actually expect people to follow them, are delusional. Swimming I have mixed feelings about, but that may be more of an insurance issue than cleanliness issue.

You really can't claim to be respectful and obey property lines if your going to trespass on private land and swim despite the wishes of the owners.

Littering and public alcohol consumption are already banned by, you know, law.

If you don't put up a sign saying private property everyone would think it's public property. Which again it isn't. The sign isn't symbolic. It's literally a sign, and it's literally private property.

Putting things "around" *words* to make it 'seem' like there is really something #else# going on is ©disingenuous©.

Illegal swimmers are not the scum of society, but their arguments seem to boil down to I want to go swimming so I'm just going to do what I want. Which really is not a good justification.

If someone tell you not to ride their unicorn don't be selfish and do it anyway. And then encourage the general public to also ride the unicorn. Sometimes it's just not your unicorn.

To A, Yes, the nature consevancy has signs up that say no swimming and fishing. They are in the parking lot, and i think as you enter the trail to the Falls.

To Charlie, one side of the Falls is owned by the Nature Conservancy, and the other is private. The people I saw swimming were on the NC side, not the private side. I just saw a few people go onto the private side to take pictures. I still think your argument is valid, just wanted to be clear about how things are laid out.

I think my use of the word "delusional" was harsh. Maybe "overly optimistic" is better.

@Jessica: "the website tells you where to park, and how to get to the Falls"

I'm looking at the Barberfalls page on the Conservancy web and it ends with "Continue 1.4 miles to a parking area on the left, across from Broadside Cemetery" so no, it doesn't tell you how to get to the falls from there, but that's all good if there is a sign at the parking lot that does (and that I missed), I stand corrected. I think more signs along the way, at the strategic points where people would be tempted to trespass, would make sense. Maybe I'll plant an ironic sign next time, "This way to the Falls. Good bye.", pointing straight back to the parking lot. Look at me, condemning trespassing now, what's going on with me, oh nooo. Yes it's clear that you weren't supposed to park right the Falls, I wasn't arguing that, but I was wondering why. What is it used for? That seems like a good place to get people much closer to the falls, hence farther away from private property.

@Charlie: That there is a "Private Property" sign on that waterfall doesn't make it right. Fights over borders aren't exactly new. It is symbolic of the problem of appropriation or encirclement of natural resources by individuals. Thanks for making my point though: there is a good reason everyone would think it's public property, that's what it should be, duh.

This has been interesting conversation. But it's starting to circle back around, so we're closing the comments. Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful contributions.

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