The Finger Lakes region of New York State is chock full of spectacular waterfalls ranging from gentle cascades to roaring torrents. Letchworth State Park offers not only three of the most beautiful (as well as many other lesser-known falls and cascades), but a wide assortment of other activities including hiking, biking, camping, and such seasonal activities as swimming, horseback riding, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, white water adventure and even hot air ballooning!
Letchworth State Park is called the Grand Canyon of the East because of the deep ravine the Genesee River has worn in the land. Although the park draws tens of thousands of visitors each year, it never feels crowded. On the day we visited, there were travelers there from as far away as Alaska.
We hiked in to see the Lower Falls first. This falls is not for people with strollers, wheel chairs or disabilities that make walking difficult. The path leads across uneven and sometimes muddy terrain with a descent at the end of more than 120 steps. Stretching across the ravine below the Lower Falls is a stone bridge which offers a great photo op. Water dripping down the ravine walls caused a lush green moss and tiny purple flowers to adorn the sides of the “canyon.”
The upper and middle falls are clos together and are both easily accessed from the Falls Area Parking lot. The 70-foot upper falls is framed by a 200-foot train trestle, which more energetic travelers can hike to and across for a spectacular view.
Downstream is the Middle Falls. With a 107-foot drop, it is considered to be the most dramatic of the three. Capture your panoramic shot of both the Upper and Middle Falls from the park’s Inspiration Point.
Hiking is a favorite activity, but hikers will want to invest in a trail map of the park at the Visitor’s Center. The numerous trails offer many options ranging from easy and well-marked to more difficult trails that descend into the gorge.
If you’re into camping, Letchworth is listed among the top 100 campgrounds in the U.S., and even if you don’t own a tent, you can still stay overnight in the park by renting one of their rustic cabins which range in price from about $60 per night for one-room cabins with no heat or running water, to $210 per night for multi-room family units.
For people seeking a less rustic overnight stay, the beautiful Glen Iris Inn in Castile, NY, offers both lodging and fine dining. Originally owned by William P. Letchworth, after whom the park was named, the Inn is also a favorite for small meetings or weddings. On the day we visited, lilting harp music for the wedding which was just about to take place added to the beauty of the gardens and the stunning view of the glen.
For a map, showing the region and the various entrances to the park, CLICK HERE.
For more information about Letchworth State Park, visit:
For books on hiking, waterfalls or outdoor recreation in New York State, visit: http://www.footprintpress.com/
If you are interested in Letchworth State Park, you may also want to read Letchworth State Park and Mary Jemison, White Woman of the Genesee.