Lucifer Falls, New York

It’s been nine years since I visited Lucifer Falls (along with a number of other waterfalls in Upstate New York). It was an interesting time to visit the region. As you can tell, all of the snow had melted by that time in early May, but a number of the state parks in the area weren’t at full “capacity”. At Watkins Glen State Park, only a portion of the trail was open as they checked for issues with the trails. Similarly, I think only a portion of the trails at Robert H Treman State Park (where Lucifer Falls is found) were fully open. So while you’ll be able to visit many of the falls in early May, a few may still be inaccessible.

In Ithaca, there are so many impressive waterfalls: Taughannock FallsIthaca Falls, New York, all of the Buttermilk Falls, etc. Lucifer Falls is another one to add to the list. At 115′ tall and found in another beautiful gorge, it’s a truly impressive waterfall. You can  get the sense that at higher flow than what is in the picture below, the waterfall is even wider. You can also get closer to the falls at the right time of year, though I think that was part of the trail that had limited/closed access (or I just decided not to go further since you get a fairly good view of the falls from the viewpoint).

I don’t remember the hike to the falls being wildly difficult, though it was nine years ago. (That’s the downside of writing about a waterfall so long after.) There are a lot of stairs as you get closer to the falls, as you might be able to notice in the picture. The trail does continue on from one entrance to the other entrance. Near the entrance that I would recommend, you’ll also find the smaller Old Mill Falls.

Directions:

  1. Turn onto NY-327 W from NY-13.
  2. Take the road 2.5 miles to the Upper (second) entrance. You’ll have to take a sharp left turn to enter the park.
  3. Drive down to the parking lot. From the parking lot, follow the trail to Lucifer Falls. You’ll be heading east along this trail.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 115′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip (from the Upper Parking Lot)

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Lucifer Falls in May 2009

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Waterfall #3 in Buttermilk Falls SP, New York

It’s been a while since I’ve thought about the waterfalls in Buttermilk Falls State Park. It’s a really beautiful state park in Ithaca, and there are so many different drops on Buttermilk Creek. Buttermilk Falls is the largest drop, and then Upper Buttermilk Falls is also a rather large drop. I also classified other drops (#1#2, and #6), with #4 and #5 being somewhat out of sight.

This third drop that I classified has three smaller drops that are extremely close to each other. You could almost call this Triple Falls. If this waterfall were all by itself, I’m not sure that it would be a main attraction (though that also depends on where the falls are located). In this case, you’ll see so many other waterfalls that it’s worth it to keep hiking. (Depending on how you choose to hike, there is a moderate ascent, with a much easier descent.)

Directions:

  1. There are multiple ways to access this entrance to the park. I think the easiest is to get onto NY-96B (aka Danby Rd.) heading south from Ithaca.
  2. Heading south, you will come to W. King Road. Turn right onto W. King Road.
  3. Head to the sign for the entrance to Buttermilk Falls State Park. Turn into the entrance.
  4. From here, you can park right there, and cross W. King Road. The entrance to the gorge should be rather obvious.
  5. The Gorge Trail is the best choice to view the falls, though it is only open during certain times of the year.

Accessibility: Ascent (4/10), Descent (9/10)
Height: ~15′
Length of Hike: 1.2 miles round-trip (if you start near NY-96)

buttermilk 3

Where in the World is Waterfall #3?

Old Mill Falls, New York

There are a few waterfalls that I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about, and Old Mill Falls seems to be one of them. There are at least two waterfalls named Old Mill Falls. One of them, which I previously visited and posted about here, is found in Ithaca. The other Old Mill Falls is further east south of Albany.

Looking at photos of the falls, it is a pretty waterfall, but it isn’t very tall, and it is near the more interesting Plattekill Falls. There are a few other waterfalls along the Plattekill Creek, but they aren’t as easy to access. Looking back at my post, Plattekill Falls wasn’t particularly easy to get to either, but Old Mill Falls is the easier to get to. There is a bridge that leads over the creek near the start of the trail head, and just downstream from that is the falls.

Directions:

  1. In West Saugerties, head west (somewhat northwest) along West Saugerties Road. You’ll pass Manorville Road on your right as you start heading uphill. At some point this road will turn into Platte Clove Road. The one book I used said it was about 2.5 miles from West Saugerties. (You’ll know you’re headed in the right direction if you see a sign for “This is a seasonal road.”)
  2. As you’re heading along this road, look for a “long” dirt parking area on your left (at about the 2.5 mile mark, though I can’t guarantee the mileage). Right near the end of this parking area is a bridge that crosses over Plattekill Creek. If you start seeing houses to the right and left, then you’ve gone just a bit too far. If you reach Platte Cove Community (which has a very nice sign), turn around when possible, pass the houses, cross over the bridge, and pull over in the gravel parking area.
  3. The confusing piece of the directions that I had was the red cabin. The red cabin is not obvious from the road. You may see a sign for a number of trails and “parking” in a 100 yards, which means you’re in the right place.
  4. To get to the trail to the falls, look for a trail near the creek with a wood bridge over the creek. Cross the bridge and then turn left to get easy access to the base of the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 9′ (maybe up to 16′, but only a portion is easily visible)
Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

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Old Mill Falls in July 2014

Where in the World is Old Mill Falls?

 

Upper Mine Lot Falls, New York

There are a number of interesting waterfalls in John Boyd Thatcher State Park east of Albany. The main waterfall of interest is Mine Lot Falls, which has a pretty big drop off a cliff. There happen to be a few other waterfalls in the park that don’t drop off that main cliff, and hence are smaller.

One of the smaller waterfalls is Upper Mine Lot Falls. This is on the same creek as Mine Lot Falls. Upper Mine Lot Falls is 12′ or so tall. This waterfall isn’t visited nearly as frequently as it’s larger brother, and that means you may have a more peaceful time there. I visited the falls in mid-July of 2014 and there was still a good volume of water flowing over the falls, so this waterfall seems to be more year-round in its existence.

Directions:

Honestly, looking at the roads here, it is one of the more complex set of directions, and could widely vary depending on where you’re coming from.  I would suggest typing in the following address into a GPS to find the location of John Boyd Thatcher State Park:

1 Hailes Cave Road
Voorheesville, NY 12186

NY-157 passes through the park.  The parking area for Upper Mine Lot Falls will be on the west side of the road. If you enter the park heading west, the parking area will be on the left (the Paint Mine parking lot).

From the parking lot, there is a short trail to the falls. I crossed the river (over a bridge?) to see the falls from the left side of the creek.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Length of Hike: ~0.15 miles round trip
Height: 12′

Upper Mine Lot Falls in July 2014

Where in the World is Upper Mine Lot Falls?

Kaaterskill Falls, New York

Kaaterskill Falls in July 2014

I know some people try to visit waterfalls at the “perfect time”, when the sun is at the perfect position or it’s a cloudy day. I don’t always have that option, and so sometimes I show up at the “wrong time”, when the sun is directly above the falls and it’s really difficult to get a good photograph. That was the case with Kaaterskill Falls, one of the more popular waterfalls in eastern New York. At 260′ tall, that’s where it gets most of its fame.

There are beautiful paintings and pictures of Kaaterskill Falls, but I really had a much harder time capturing the falls in all of its possible glory. The sun wasn’t helping, and honestly, to get the pictures that others had painted, I would have had to be standing in some very odd location. I’m not even sure what location that would have been, as the trees blocked most of the viewpoints that would have allowed me to see both drops at their appropriate magnitude.

Instead, I ended up with a much closer view of the lower portion of the falls, while the bottom piece of the upper drop could not be captured. I had to be standing on the left side of the river at the base just to capture this much of the falls without having the photo completely ruined by the sun. I guess I really didn’t love Kaaterskill Falls as much as I thought I would because of these issues. The hike to the falls wasn’t extremely difficult, but I think I was expecting something visually different.

Directions:

  1. I did not take the exit from I-87 to get to the falls, so I don’t really know what exit you would take, considering it’s a toll road with limited exits. I instead started on US-9W, and turned onto NY-23A heading east at the junction of these two roads.
  2. Continue heading east along NY-23A, passing under I-87. Keep going along 23A past the junction with NY-32.
  3. NY-23A will start climbing uphill with some sharp, curvy turns. At some point along the road, the speed limit is reduced drastically, you will take an extremely sharp curve, crossing the bridge over Kaaterskill Creek. If you look to your right, you’ll see Bastion Falls.
  4. Pass over that bridge, and shortly after that (about 0.2 miles or so), you’ll come to a parking area on your left. It could be very easy to pass, so pay careful attention. If you pass this, I’m not sure when the next place to turn around is.
  5. From the parking area, you will then have to head back to the bridge and Kaaterskill Creek. This is along the curvy, winding road, and at times you will be walking along a road with absolutely no shoulder. Be extremely careful.
  6. Cross over the bridge, and the start of the trail should be to your left. (You would be heading upstream.) You’ll know you’re in the right place since there’s a sign for Kaaterskill Falls.
  7. Start the hike. The first few hundred feet are actually the steepest, and then it tends to level out somewhat. It’s only about 0.5 miles one-way from the start of the trail.

Don’t Be Stupid Alert!: It’s not difficult to arrive at the base of the lower drop, but climbing to the base of the upper drop is extremely dangerous. There are signs indicating to not hike past a certain point, but there’s an obvious trail where people have ignored these signs. Don’t do it! Don’t be stupid!

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 260′
Distance of Hike: 1 mile round-trip

Where in the World is Kaaterskill Falls?

Plattekill Falls, New York

Plattekill Falls in July 2014

I visited a number of waterfalls in eastern New York this past Saturday. I usually post about the first one that I visit on a trip, but I’ve decided to post on Plattekill Falls because I will forget something if I don’t write about it right now. Of all the waterfalls I visited, this one (and Old Mill Falls, which is a smaller fall just above this one) was the most difficult to find.

First, the road that leads to the trail head, Platte Clove Road, is closed during the winter months, so you’ll have to visit Plattekill Falls during the late spring and summer months. The road is moderately steep and narrow in places, so this is understandable. Second, it is not extremely obvious where the trail head to the falls starts, at least from the road. I drove by once and really had no clue if I was in the right place. I turned around, and on a hunch decided to park where a number of other cars were parked. I did find out it was the right place, but I initially started on a different trail that led to some mountain. I was able to see Old Mill Falls, and then noticed there was a much larger drop downstream.

I went back to the main road, and went toward the other main “path” I could see, and only after hiking it discovered it did lead to Plattekill Falls! I’ll mention in the directions below what to pay attention for in order to have an easier time finding the falls, though it’s still a bit confusing.

Once I was at the falls, it was really very beautiful. Since it was a sunny, amazing day, it did make photographing the waterfalls just a bit more difficult, though I had less difficulty here than with Kaaterskill Falls earlier in the day. It’s just over 50′ tall. After wandering around for a bit, you also discover there are even more waterfalls below, though they’re not easily accessed from the trail to Plattekill Falls. (There was an adventure company helping people rappel down the cliff near this other waterfall.) If you’re interested, there may be a way to see 14 falls along Plattekill Creek, as written here.

Directions:

  1. In West Saugerties, head west (somewhat northwest) along West Saugerties Road. You’ll pass Manorville Road on your right as you start heading uphill. At some point this road will turn into Platte Clove Road. The one book I used said it was about 2.5 miles from West Saugerties. (You’ll know you’re headed in the right direction if you see a sign for “This is a seasonal road.”)
  2. As you’re heading along this road, look for a “long” dirt parking area on your left (at about the 2.5 mile mark, though I can’t guarantee the mileage). Right near the end of this parking area is a bridge that crosses over Plattekill Creek. If you start seeing houses to the right and left, then you’ve gone just a bit too far. If you reach Platte Cove Community (which has a very nice sign), turn around when possible, pass the houses, cross over the bridge, and pull over in the gravel parking area.
  3. The confusing piece of the directions that I had was the red cabin. The red cabin is not obvious from the road. You may see a sign for a number of trails and “parking” in a 100 yards, which means you’re in the right place.
  4. To get to the trail to the falls, head to the end of this gravel parking area, where there was a gate (maybe more like two metal posts) with chains blocking the path. If you start walking down this three-foot wide trail, you should now pass the red cabin, and then you’re definitely on the right path. (If you cross a wood bridge, you are not on the right trail, though you can see Old Mill Falls on this trail.)
  5. It follows a few switchbacks, and then you end up at the falls. It was a shorter hike than I had expected, though it is consistently downhill (and uphill on the return).

*There is another parking area, but I had an extremely difficult time seeing it. It was near a very sharp turn in the road, and it requires you walk along the narrow road to get to the trail.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 78′
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Plattekill Falls?

Chittenango Falls, New York

New York has many waterfalls, and many of the waterfalls seem to cluster together. A few of them, including Chittenango Falls, are slightly more isolated. (One of you might say, “There’s this other waterfall nearby”, but you might have to drive just a little further to find it compared to some locations where you can see 3, 4, 5, 6+ falls at a time!) I believe the other waterfall that we visited in the area nearby was Pratt’s Falls.

Chittenango Falls is located southeast of Syracuse, and it’s just an hour or so drive from Syracuse. If you’re looking for larger and impressive waterfalls, this is probably the waterfall for you! It’s 167′ tall (according to NY State Parks), and it’s rather wide too. It’s also very easy to get too, being almost directly off of NY-13. If I remember correctly, NY-13 passes over the river, and the falls are very close to that bridge.

Walking to the falls does require some stairs, but it’s a relatively short distance. I do remember there being a number of signs asking visitors to not disturb blocked-off areas. Please follow any signs to ensure that endangered plants can grown in peace.

Directions:

  1. There are number of possible paths to arrive at the falls. You’re hoping to end up on NY-13 in between the towns of Chittenango and Cazenovia.  If in Chittenango, head south. If in Cazenovia, head north.
  2. The falls are found directly off of NY-13. Depending on the time of year, there may be a fee to enter the park. (When we visited many of the New York parks in early May, those taking care of the parks didn’t seem to want to deal with taking care of fees, oddly enough.)

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 167′
Length of Hike: 0.15 miles round-trip

Chittenango Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Chittenango Falls?