The “Lost” or “Forgotten” Sprakers Falls at Flat Creek
I had heard of and seen pictures of the fabled Sprakers Falls but couldn’t verify their existence or location from any online source. Internet searches only yielded that the waterfall is rumored to be near the town of Sprakers or is “lost.”
My friend Doug searched a topo map and upon further investigation of drone maps, they helped me to discern where I thought the falls to be.
We parked at an Eerie Canal Bike Path parking lot across from the Sprakers Reformed Church. Our original plan was to drive up Canyon Road and look for parking spots or herd trails leading into the canyon but upon perusal of the Canyon Road entrance, a narrow, single lane, no shoulder dirt road, we decided to park at the lot and traverse up the creek.
Looking at the shaded spot on the topo map I calculated that the waterfall was only eight tenths of a mile upstream. I used a phone app called MAPMYHIKE and at an average speed of 1.7 mph and a distance of about one mile, 35 minutes and 12 seconds later we arrived at the falls.
The water level in the creek seemed low and very manageable. Evidence of high water debris deposits and entanglements showed that the creek must have recently been a raging river up to four feet deep. At that level it would have been absolutely unnavigable.
We intentionally wore old sneakers and simply trudged through the water which was actually a welcome relief as the temperatures were a humid 85 degrees. There were a few locations where the water was about four feet deep and there was one impressive swimming hole beneath a medium sized waterfall half way upstream which had no discernible bottom. It was a fine reward for the intrepid adventurer. At this point we could hear the turbulent roar of the larger falls slightly upstream.
The rocks in the stream were predominately slimy and slippery. Bristling with mistrust, whenever we could, we hopped on the top of dry rocks or walked along the shore. I advise bringing a walking stick to catch your balance should you slip in the slime or mud which sometimes caked the shoreline. I speak from experience.
There was evidence of wild life such as the footprints of deer and racoon. We did see two hawks, possibly a Cooper and Sharpshin. There were an assortment of smaller birds plus two Kingfishers who zigzagged the stream ahead of us. In the water there were minnows and crayfish. At one point the air became rapidly charged with the unmistakable effluvium of skunk and at another there was a strong odor of rotting flesh. We looked around for its source but it was probably above the creek-line in the woods and the scent of decay was just wafting down the canyon walls.
The actual waterfall flume was resplendent and impressive with a small grotto hollowed out to the right of the main fall. The water was turgid, most likely with the water of the previous days storm. There was poison ivy up in the grotto area so we didn’t venture too far under its overhang. Our original plan was to climb the falls and bushwhack to Canyon Road then take the road down from there. I was told there were private homes up there but while walking upstream along the creek bank there were no discernible trails or access to properties above the canyon.
The creek had an assortment of man made debris such as car bumpers, radiators, a bike frame and tires. Most likely these were washed down from a dump site or farm after various heavy rains over the years.
Around the actual waterfall, there was evidence of human partiers who left their empty soda and beer cans for others to enjoy. My friend Doug would have carried them out but I am more passive aggressive and left them in the hope that should they ever return they will be ashamed at seeing the mess that they left. Probably not. Only now do I realize that after the next storm, their nickel valued aluminum detritus will be transported downstream to eventually adorn the mighty Mohawk River.
Video – Malcolm Kogut
Music Patrick Moraz from the album THE STORY OF I