A Family Hike

Quality time, togetherness, and renewal in nature. It can be experienced here, just off the scenic byway NY- 86E, within sight of Whiteface Mountain.

I'm talking about a place called Monument Falls, where the trails roam alongside the Ausable River on this four season, family-friendly, hike.

"Monument Falls, North Elba, NY" is how it reads on Google Maps.

listening to nature

What is it that I seek in nature, why does it call me? I have always taken those moments for myself, gazing outside my office window at work or the kitchen at home, taking a moment to admire a lone tree or a stand of trees or a hillside - it speaks to me.

A birch tree leans in, to listen, to speak? Nature does not live in darkness. I believe nature has wisdom. Not the kind quoted in a book or quipped by a politician, but true wisdom, for those that will listen.

Maybe it’s here, the sound of that initial center break of the falls in the West Branch of the Ausable River. Do you hear it?

Have you ever read a book or watched a movie that is told in reverse? Is there something more, something deeper to be learned from a character or a story or a loved one, or even a river, if I allow myself to go back in time and listen?

Monument Falls spills into the background. A beaver has stopped gnawing away at this tree to the right,  I can almost hear it, can  you?

Ahhh, finally, with Whiteface Mountain watching over me in the background and Monument Falls just around the bend, the sound is deafening.

Silence … it just might be nature’s best garment.

“Speech is silver and silence is gold,“ goes the saying. The sentiment can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, but like many proverbs and expressions, their origin is like tracing the source of a stream, I have to go way back through the haze of time.

nature teaches patience

Here, time loses meaning, silence grows, the earth is still, the water is patient, and golden reeds and silver & green boughs have time to reflect. 

Where an adult may be reminded or a child may learn where the term “stone silent” came from.

A strong desire to wander and explore overtakes me. I wish my Grandma and Grandpa were here to hold hands in this quietness and shuffle along not far behind me and their dog, Buster, runs ahead with his nose to the ground excited to be free after the confines of the car.

A pleasant hush and holiday sentiment sweeps over me while exploring the pine cone floor and the sun warms and releases the scent of pine saplings.

The sun casts a unique dream-like essence to the adventure.


I kneel down with my camera and portray a child’s point of view where they have the freedom to scamper, crawl, or climb in an enchanted wood where imaginations can run wild and questions overflow.

Here a lagoon lined with evergreens and again in evidence, nature is in no hurry. Nature's frost and crystals expand, and I think I've reached the fountainhead, but the West Branch of the Ausable River seems to never end and the source continually winds and spurs me further, deeper, around the next brilliant bend into the transcending calm.

Whether you want your hike to last five minutes or fifteen minutes or an hour or two, Monument Falls, found in the heart of the Whiteface Region is one of many places to discover.

But you must venture in, you must go a little deeper to its source where you can listen and experience the renewed sense it brings to you and your family - together - it will leave you wanting more.

Get close with our lodging. Have a hearty breakfast with our dining. Find more great hikes.

Author:
Troy Thomas

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