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?

Waterfall in Watkins Glen SP, New York

The last post about Watkins Glen State Park was a while ago, so I might as well take a little time to inform you again about this really interesting state park with numerous waterfalls. Right inside the city of Watkins Glen is the state park of the mentioned glen. When you can visit, you’ll be introduced to a number of different waterfalls with very different personalities. The problem happens to be that you can’t always visit. When my dad and I visited in early May, the state park system was still cleaning up the damage that had occurred during the winter. (It seems to be an expected event in many of the glens.) At least there’s a sense of placing safety first here.

There are some really impressive waterfalls in the park, and then there are some smaller drops that aren’t necessarily the most interesting, but they can still be rather cool. Often, the rock formations around the falls are the nifty part. This specific drop is one of those smaller drops that hasn’t been named, but it should still be recognized.

Directions:

  1. Watkins Glen State Park is directly off of NY-14 in Watkins Glen.
  2. Pay the state park entrance fee, and then park.
  3. This waterfall can be seen along the Gorge Trail.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 5′
Length of Hike: up to 3 miles round-trip

Waterfall in Watkins Glen in May 2009

Where in the World is this Waterfall in Watkins Glen?

Wolcott Falls, New York

Wolcott Falls is found in Wolcott, which is a small town in upstate New York. It is near Lake Ontario, and was along the route to visiting Chimney Bluffs State Park. It’s a nice waterfall, and it’s pretty easy to visit.

Right off of the main road, the parking area leads to a viewpoint near the crest of the falls. I think this view is pretty good, but I would definitely suggest taking the hike down to the base of the falls. The falls are not terribly tall, which means that the hike is not too bad! It sort of curves around, making it rather enjoyable. Along the way, I enjoyed all of the spring wildflowers.

Directions:

  1. Head to Wolcott, NY. We just wandered there from Syracuse, and there are many different options.
  2. Get to Mill Street in the city. The falls are found at a park right off of Mill Street. There is a bridge above the falls that you cross over as you are driving, though you can’t necessarily see the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (parking lot view), 8/10 (to base)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

Wolcott Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Wolcott Falls?

Waterfall #2 in Buttermilk Falls SP, New York

This is the kind of waterfall that makes you begin to question: when do I count a waterfall as its own separate waterfall? There are so many waterfalls in Buttermilk Falls State Park, some large and some smaller, such as this one. I guess you could really consider it one large waterfall with multiple drops separated by more distance. Or you could consider it to be multiple waterfalls. It’s confusing. How do I even identify where this falls is in location to other falls in the park…I’m not really sure.

It would probably help if they all had unique names. Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania has names for each of the major (and even some minor) drops, which makes it easier to remember and identify the falls, and even give info about where they’re located. You’ll see this falls if you take the whole hike along the gorge, but if you just stop to see Buttermilk Falls, you’ll miss it.

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 moderate/difficult), Descent (9/10 easy)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip from lower entrance, 0.2 miles round-trip from upper entrance, 1.2 miles round-trip to see many of the falls

Waterfall in Buttermilk Falls State Park (May 2009)

Where in the World is Waterfall #2?

Upper Buttermilk Falls, New York

The last post about Buttermilk Falls State Park was a little less than a year ago, so I’m going to explain a little bit again about what’s going on here.

Buttermilk Falls State Park is right outside of Ithaca. In the time that I lived there, I didn’t realize how close it was. I though it was further out. There are two different entrances. The main one leads to an easy descent but a difficult ascent, though all with stairs. We did the descent first. As I’ve said before, it’s really just one big waterfall that has numerous drops of very significant size. It would probably help if there were separate names for each of the drops. Upper Buttermilk Falls is what I refer to as the drop just above the main waterfall. I tend to believe that the main falls and some of the smaller falls upstream are more interesting.

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 moderate/difficult), Descent (9/10 easy)
Height: 80′
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles round-trip (to see falls from lower entrance), 1.2 miles round-trip to see many of the falls

Upper Buttermilk Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Upper Buttermilk Falls?

Lower Eagle Cliff Falls, New York

I previously discussed Eagle Cliff Falls, which is upstream from this smaller set of waterfalls. This smaller set of falls is a set of multiple drops, each about 3-8 feet tall. While Eagle Cliff Falls is taller, this is also just as interesting. They are also easier to access, as you don’t have to hike up the short trail to get to Eagle Cliff Falls. Even that trail is not significantly steep, but this can be viewed without much effort at all!

Directions:

  1. From the city of Montour Falls, head south on NY-14 for a very short distance.
  2. On your left, you will find Havana Glen Rd. Turn left onto Havana Glen Rd.
  3. There will be park and parking area off of Havana Glen Rd. to your right. Park in this area.
  4. You will pass the the baseball diamonds and head toward a sign in a remote corner of the park that will lead to the trail for Eagle Cliff Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Lower Eagle Cliff Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Lower Eagle Cliff Falls?

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?

Lower Taughannock Falls, New York

The 200’+ tall Taughannock Falls is the main attraction in Taughannock Falls State Park near Ithaca, but there are other falls in the park that are just as pretty. Lower Taughannock Falls is found just as you enter the park on your journey through the gorge to the base of the falls. This falls can not be seen from the base viewpoint.

The falls are taller than they appear, and are wider than Taughannock Falls. The gorge at that point is not that high above you.  The falls are only a short distance from Lake Cayuga. From this point to the base of the falls, you may be able to walk on the bedrock in the river, as the water levels are usually low. Be careful, though, as that is not always the case, especially after a lot of rain.

Directions (to view base of the falls):

  1. From Ithaca, head north on NY-89.
  2. After a ways, you’ll end up at Taughannock Falls State Park. There are two different parking areas here. Park in either one and pay the entrance fee.
  3. The falls are just a short distance from parking.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Lower Taughannock Falls in September 2006

Where in the World is Lower Taughannock Falls?

NY-14 Falls #2, New York

The second unnamed falls on NY route 14 (May 2009)

As I’m driving along in different places looking for waterfalls, every once in a while I spot waterfalls that are off on the side of the road. In some places, like North Carolina or Colorado, I couldn’t exactly stop to take photos of these often unmentioned falls because of the insanely winding roads lacking pulloffs.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find at least three smaller waterfalls along New York route 14 that I could actually stop and photograph. These might not even be of significance to many, but I still think they’re cool. I visited this area near Watkins Glen in early May, and based on the level of water, these waterfalls are likely seasonal. They are also not as big as many of the other waterfalls in the area. Even so, I think all waterfalls are at least moderately interesting, so pay attention to these surprises.

Directions:

  1. As you’re driving south on NY-14 from Watkins Glen toward Montour Falls, these three waterfalls will be on your right. All three of the waterfalls I photographed were north of Aunt Sarah’s Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~40′
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is NY-14 Falls #2?

Waterfall #1 in Buttermilk Falls SP, New York

There are numerous drops along Buttermilk Creek in Ithaca, and in essence they could be viewed as one very large waterfall that drops a considerable distance. This waterfall here is not the first waterfall you will see. Buttermilk Falls and Upper Buttermilk Falls will both come before this drop. I’m just designating this the first unnamed drop on the creek.

I wish I could explain the beauty of this drop adequately. The trees block the view somewhat, so the picture cannot do justice to how interesting the view was. I tried my best with the vantage point provided (which is really no vantage point provided). Before this point on the creek, the creek is actually rather narrow, and it is only now just beginning to widen considerably. You may also notice that hidden at the crest of the falls is another drop just above this wider crest. I was amazed at how secluded that drop was, but alas, there was no way to get a better view of the drop. The rock walls begin to climb dramatically at that point, and you end up standing above the falls at a considerable height. You will hear the falls below, but you will be unlikely to see them very well.

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 moderate/difficult), Descent (9/10 easy)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip (to see falls from lower entrance), 1.2 miles round-trip to see many of the falls

Waterfall in Buttermilk Falls State Park

Where in the World is Waterfall #1?