The 47-acre High Falls Conservation area in Philmont, New York, is home to 8 miles of hiking trails and two large waterfalls that once powered numerous mills along the creek.
There are three trails that make up the system; Red, Blue and Green. The Green Trail will lead you to directly to the High Falls overlook, where the main waterfall can be viewed in its entirety. The Red Trail also leads there, although it is longer and includes a slight incline. The Blue Trail leads to the creek and both waterfalls.
Along the trails are benches for resting or viewing of the forest. A number of bird species, including the Pileated Woodpecker, can be seen (or heard).
At the base of High Falls is a large pool which is ideal for swimming and fishing. Swimmers are often seen jumping from the sides of the waterfall. Bass, perch and trout can be found in the waters along the creek.
In the 19th century, the Agawamuck Creek was the main power source for as many as 17 mills that lined its banks. A dam was built at the top of High Falls in 1845 to help harness its power and divert a portion of its flow to other mills. This diverted water forms Agawamuck Falls, the first waterfall visitors encounter when approaching High Falls from below.
As technologies advanced, these mills became obsolete and closed. Only a handful of buildings remain with no ruins found along the creek except another dam further downstream.
As hikers follow the trails, they’ll observe locust stands, maples and oaks along the forest. Logging was also once a dominant industry here, and these lands supplied much of the needed wood.
Philmont wasn’t always known as such; its original name was Factory Hill, no doubt due to the number of factories and mills throughout the town. The name was changed at a later date following the decline of the milling industry.