Lower Falls (Genesee River), New York

The Genesee River in New York has a wealth of impressive waterfalls. There are two sets of three falls each separated by a pretty significant distance. Three are found in Rochester, while the others are found further south in Letchworth State Park. The three in Letchworth State Park (UpperMiddle, and Lower) are more isolated. The three in Rochester are reminders of the hustle and bustle of humanity.

High Falls is the furthest upstream, and is in my opinion the most impressive of the three falls in Rochester. Lower Falls is a short drive from High Falls, though I have to admit that the surroundings do seem to change somewhat dramatically. High Falls is surrounding by hip restaurants, whereas Lower Falls is surrounded by less impressive factories. It also seems less safe near Lower Falls, but that just means you need to be more aware.

There is a park devoted to Lower and Middle Falls, but the views to be had there are not the most spectacular. You can’t see the whole falls at the park viewpoint. Better views might be had on the bridge downstream from the river, though I don’t remember if there was a path for pedestrians. Still, the falls were flowing pretty intensely, so it was impressive even if the surroundings weren’t.

Directions:

  1. From I-490, take the Rochester Inner Loop Highway to St. Paul Street.
  2. Turn left onto Driving Park Avenue.
  3. You will cross the bridge over the Genesee River.
  4. Just a short distance after crossing the bridge, there will be a parking area for the park on your left. If I remember correctly, the parking area was right near the YMCA. We showed up later in the day, so I don’t think there were parking issues.
  5. Follow the Genesee Riverway Trail to Lower Falls. Middle Falls is on the same trail.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 78′
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

Lower Falls of the Genesee River in Rochester in May 2009

Where in the World is Lower Falls?

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Wee Water Willy, New York

Wee Water Willy in May 2009

Wee Water Willy is a fun, little waterfall in Letchworth State Park. It’s actually taller than it appears. It starts above the path, which is at the top of the picture here. It then falls a considerable distance down into the Genesee River below. I’m not sure I’d visit it as the main attraction, but it is literally feet from Middle Falls in the park, if I remember correctly. There are a number of other small falls that can be viewed in the park if you show up at the right time, which is spring and possibly early summer. Some of them are even dry in spring.

Directions:

  1. I can’t remember which entrance we entered from, but those of off NY-39 are the best choices.
  2. When you enter the park, there will be signs leading to different areas. Find the signs leading to Middle and Upper Falls. I believe you will be heading south as you head toward these falls.
  3. The parking area for the falls is very near the southern entrance to the park. You will know you are in the right place when you see a functioning inn.
  4. From the parking area, you’ll have no difficulty finding Middle Falls. Wee Water Willy is right nearby.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 117′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Wee Water Willy?

Middle Falls (Genesee River), New York

Middle Falls on the Genesee River is a rather popular name. One of the falls is in Rochester, while the other is in Letchworth State Park. This post refers to the larger, more interesting Middle Falls in Letchworth State Park. Middle Falls is a rather grand falls. It’s pretty wide, relatively tall, and really loud! As part of Letchworth State Park, it also has many other waterfalls nearby. Upper Falls is a few hundred yards away.

The waterfall can be viewed up close from the parking area for High and Middle Falls. It can also be viewed from Inspiration Point, if I remember correctly. At that point, you can visit Inspiration Falls, which I was not able to photograph due to the angle. At that viewpoint, you will be able to see both Middle Falls and Upper Falls simultaneously, which is very cool. You may also be able to view Deh-ga-yah-soh Falls to your right, though it might be easier to miss this falls with two much larger falls in your view. Lower Falls is further downstream.

Directions:

  1. I can’t remember which entrance we entered from, but those of off NY-39 are the best choices.
  2. When you enter the park, there will be signs leading to different areas. Find the signs leading to Middle and Upper Falls. I believe you will be heading south as you head toward these falls.
  3. The parking area for the falls is very near the southern entrance to the park. You will know you are in the right place when you see a functioning inn.
  4. From the parking area, you’ll have no difficulty finding Middle Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 107′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Middle Falls on the Genesee River in May 2009

Where in the World is Middle Falls?

Lower Falls (Genesee River), New York

The Genesee River takes multiple drops as it heads toward Lake Ontario. These multiple drops occur in different places. Near Rochester, there are three major drops. In Letchworth State Park, some distance from Rochester, there are three more signifcant drops. They are unimaginatively named Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls.

Lower Falls is the furthest downstream in Letchworth State Park. It is the shortest of the drops in the park, but is still very beautiful. All three of the waterfalls are accessible, though Lower Falls does have some uneven parts of trail. Even so, it is easy to access. Along the way to Lower Falls, you will come up to a beautiful brick bridge that crosses the river, and connects multiple trails. When I visited, the trails on the opposite side of the gorge were blocked off.

Directions:

  1. I can’t remember which entrance we entered from, but those of off NY-39 are the best choices.
  2. When you enter the park, there will be signs leading to different areas. Find the signs to the Lower Falls and head toward that area.
  3. You are going to pass the Lower Falls restaurant parking lot and head to the parking lot at the end of the road.
  4. From there, follow the trail that essentially leads straight to the falls.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 70′
Length of Hike: 0.8 miles round-trip

Lower Falls of the Genesee River in May 2009

Where in the World is Lower Falls?

High Falls (Genesee River), New York

There are three waterfalls on the Genesee River that are found in downtown Rochester, New York (Lower, Middle, and High Falls), and High Falls is the most scenic of the three. There is a beauty that comes from seeing how humans have interacted with waterfalls, and it’s especially true here.

Once you find parking, High Falls is very easy to view, as there is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the river. You can get many different views of the falls from the bridge. From the bridge, I think you can see remnants of other bridges down below in the river.

Directions:

  1. From I-490, you’re going to want to exit and get to State St.
  2. On State St., there will be a parking garage for High Falls. If you are driving south on State St., the parking garage will be on your left. I believe the parking was free when I was there, though there may be a cost at certain times.
  3. From the parking area, walk toward the river and historic district. As you are walking toward the river, you will pass a High Falls “Museum and Gift Shop”, which has some interesting history in it.
  4. The falls will be best viewed from the pedestrian bridge.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 96′
Length of Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

High Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is High Falls?