The Stone Valley Recreation Area is a popular destination in all seasons, offering great mountain biking, hiking, and waterfall viewing. On select weekends in the summer, whitewater kayakers flock to run the Class V rapids and waterfalls on the Raquette River. Twelve miles of trail parallel the river on either side, with occasional ruins from various mills dotting the banks of the river. The best views are found in the first 1.5 miles where the Raquette River drops 200 feet over several waterfalls of varying heights. While swimming and wading is explicitly forbidden, it's hard to visit Stone Valley on a hot summer day and not find someone taking a dip.
The most popular place to begin hiking is on the east side of the river in the town of Colton. The parking area was recently revamped, and the entrance to the trail is marked with several informational placards. About 50 yards down the trail, there is a trail register.
In the spring or late fall, glimpses of 40-foot-tall Colton Falls can be seen through the trees. As tempting as it is to scramble down the steep bank for better views, hikers will be better served continuing down the trail where a spur splits off to provide views from the bottom. Colton Falls is an impressive cascade, with several tiers and channels dividing and reconvening. Admittedly, the best views of this drop are from the west side of the river, but the rest of the falls are best viewed from the east.
The trail winds deeper into the forest, crossing a bridge and passing several patches of wildflowers best viewed in the late spring or early summer. When it returns to the river, hikers will find a small ledge with an impressive water feature. Known as Mushroom Ledges to kayakers, this small drop features a strange bubbling pile of water, likely caused by an irregular rock formation below the surface.
The trail cuts back into the woods, veering away from the river and then returning at a gap in the foliage that looks back at Mushroom Ledges. The Narrows is the next waterfall, where the river splits into two channels. The right side is best seen during high water, when the rushing water crashes against the cliff wall creating a huge spray. The next 100 yards offers great views of cascading flumes as hikers approach the Tubs.
The Tubs consists of two 10-foot ledges. At low water, it's easy to see the huge tub-shaped pothole that gives the falls its name.
A short distance downstream is Particle Accelerator, a fast and narrow flume that gets steeper as it continues downstream. There is another easy access point near the base of this falls that provides impressive views. Below here the rapids mellow significantly, and the trail becomes more secluded with the exception of the occasional mountain biker. Ambitious hikers can continue down the trail all the way to the Lenny Road parking area, following Lenny Road north to Browns Bridge Road, and following the foot trail on the west side of the river back upstream. This provides additional views of the various waterfalls, and completes the 12-mile loop.