This post may contain affiliate links which means, at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission from purchases through the provided links. Thank you for your support!
If you’re looking for the best waterfalls in the Finger Lakes, look no further. This post is for you! I have compiled all the information you need to enjoy the best waterfalls in the Finger Lakes with photos, hiking information, the best viewing locations, and what ones to skip. Letchworth State Park and Watkins Glen State Park are some of the most famous waterfall areas in the Finger Lakes, but there are plenty more hidden gems throughout the region, all worth a visit.
Some waterfalls require hiking through streams, climbing up rocks, or stairs, while others waterfalls are best viewed from a viewing platform or the comfort of your car. Most of these waterfalls in the Finger Lakes are easily accessible and perfect for families. However, some of these Finger Lakes waterfalls are inaccessible due to their location on private property, and some are simply not worth the effort. To help you avoid wasting time, I’ve included details like these throughout this post.
Please remember to follow all Leave No Trace Principles when hiking and exploring nature. Please do not leave any trash behind and be respectful of all the waterfall areas and other visitors, especially if you visit any falls on private property. Public access remains at the landowner’s discretion and may be closed if abused.
These beautiful waterfalls are spread out over the entire Finger Lakes region, so it will take some time to get to all of them. Still, you can easily explore multiple Finger Lakes waterfalls in a day with the right Finger Lakes Road Trip Itinerary.
Where is the Finger Lakes Region of New York
The Finger Lakes Region, named for the 11 significant lakes found in its borders, spans over 9,000 square miles and includes these 14 counties; Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Livingston, Monroe, Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, Yates.
The region stretches from Syracuse to Rochester and as far south as the Pennsylvania border in the western part of the state. You can reach the Finger Lakes region within a 5-hour drive of many east coast metropolitan areas like New York City, Boston, Toronto, Cleveland, and Hartford.
Best time to visit the waterfalls in the Finger Lakes
It is no secret that waterfalls are more spectacular in early spring or after recent rainfall when water flow is at peak.
However, the waterfalls on this round-up that require hiking through a creek are best enjoyed during early summer to early Fall when water flow is low, so you can safely walk through the streams and creeks. The significant waterfalls may not be at peak flow, but the dramatic rock formations and stunning gorges make up for it.
If you are looking for a completely different experience, try visiting some of these falls in winter when they are frozen. Trails may be icy, so make sure you have proper transportation and quality cold-weather gear (I love this jacket for cold weather hiking).
Waterfall Hiking Gear
Many of these falls require a walk through a creek, over slippery rocks, and sometimes through ankle-deep water. I recommend wearing a sturdy pair of water sandals or waterproof hiking shoes to get the most out of your waterfall hike.
I Love These Teva Water Sandals
My Favorite Sorel Hiking Boots
Finger Lakes waterfalls by location
This list has just under 40 waterfalls and is organized by location to make planning a waterfall road trip through the Finger Lakes a breeze. If you know what area you will be in, use the Table of Contents drop-down at the top of this post to view by location.
Otisco Lake Waterfalls
Pratt’s Falls is located in Pratt Falls county park in Pompey, Onondaga County, New York. The park offers multiple hiking trails, fishing, a community center, and fields for outdoor activities and sports. There is no trail into the gorge, but the waterfall can be seen from the Falls Trail.
Waterfall Height: 137 ft cascade
Distance: 0.9 loop trail to the viewing platform
Best time to visit: April through October: sunrise to sunset. Closed November through March.
Parking: Plenty of parking within the park
Fee: $2 a vehicle
Bucktail Falls is located right off the road in the town of Spafford in Onondaga County. It is a cascading waterfall about 35 feet high. It is partially located on private property, but it’s easy to view via a short walk from the road, but there is no official trail or access to the top.
Bucktail Falls is a small waterfall and not worth a visit unless going in spring or winter when the flow is strong or frozen for a better experience. Make sure to respect all no trespassing signs if posted.
Waterfall Height: 35 ft
Distance: It’s a short walk from the road, no more than 150 ft.
Difficulty: Easy to take the short walk to the falls overlook, more difficult if making your path to the top or base of the falls.
Best time to visit: Year-round
Parking: Minimal, gravel lot enough for three cars only
Tinker Falls is a 45 ft waterfall on the east side of the Finger Lake Region, closer to Syracuse in Onondaga county. It is in a beautiful area called the Labrador Hollow Unique Area. There is a boardwalk, ample parking, and multiple trails to enjoy.
Fall is a great time to visit when the leaves are changing since the area is bordered by a steep ridge and includes views of Labrador Pond and a raised boardwalk through wetlands.
Enjoy the trail year-round, but it becomes pretty muddy in melting snow or after a rainfall and is considered dangerous in winter. The trail leads behind the waterfall, but there is a stream crossing that is best crossed in summer when water flow is mild. In winter, climbing to the top of the falls would be too dangerous, but the frozen water makes for a unique sight.
Waterfall Height: 45 ft
Distance 0.6 miles to the viewpoint at the base of the falls. You can walk upstairs from the viewpoint to get closer to the falls. There is also a moderate 7.5-mile loop that takes you to the top of the falls.
Difficulty: Easy to the base of the falls. Hard in the winter. You can climb up the waterfall to the top for a moderate challenge. This trail is best used in late spring or summer to avoid uphill icy trails or if you must do it in winter, bring spikes.
Best time to Visit: Year-round but winter requires special attention
Parking: Two good size gravel lots for up to 20 ish cars
Skaneateles Lake Waterfalls
(temporary closed) *When I visited in the summer of 2021, the parking area and trailhead were closed. It looked like they were doing construction, hopefully for a larger parking lot, as the previous one was only for six cars. Hopefully, this trail will re-open by summer 2022
Waterfall Height: 90 ft
Distance: 0.3 miles out and back Carpenter falls trail or 2.9 miles via the White Trail
Difficulty: The Carpenter Falls trail is easy, the White Trail is rated moderate
Best time to Visit: Spring to fall when the water level is low, and falls are easily accessible
Parking: Currently closed
Owasco Lake Waterfalls
Fillmore Glen State Park
Fillmore Glen state park is located within the Finger Lake region near Moravia, NY, and has five significant waterfalls; the most popular is Cowshed Falls. There are multiple hiking trails, a stream-fed swimming pool, three pavilions, and various camping options available. The park is accessible year-round, with cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and hiking permitted on unplowed roads during winter.
I took the Gorge Trail to the North Rim Trail and enjoyed the hike along the gorge to the Upper Falls, dam, and loop back through the woodlands. I saw a lot of unique mushrooms and some cool lizards on the trail. The Old Gorge Trail (optional add-on from the Gorge to N Rim trail) will add about 30 mins to your hike, but it is worth it to walk across the dam and view a few more waterfalls.
To avoid hiking up a lot of stairs, make sure you start on the Gorge Trail, so when you return on the loop, you will be going down the stairs and not up to them as you would have to do if you started on the Rim Trail.
To view Cowsheds Falls, head towards the Gorge Trail trailhead and pass over Dry Creek. The trail leads to a viewing area. Then head back the way you came to start the Gorge Trail and Rim Trail loop.
Waterfall Height: The most significant falls drop around 40 ft to 60 ft each
Distance: 1.3 miles out and back along the Gorge trail, 3.5 miles loop via North Rim to Gorge trail or the Five Falls Trail (both are 3.5 miles return).
Difficulty: Trails are easy to moderate because of some stairs and unpaved packed dirt trails. Hikes are mostly flat except for the stair sections.
Best time to visit: Spring-early fall, open year-round, but the gorge trail closes in winter, and some falls become entirely frozen over.
Parking: Large lots
Fee: $8 per vehicle charges 9 am-6 pm most days.
Cayuga Lake Waterfalls
Great Gully Falls
This area is on private property off Route 90 in Springport, just south of Union Springs, NY. It has remained open to the public for years but could be closed at any time if visitors do not respect property rules; No camping or fires, no cutting down trees, no alcohol, no littering, and no overnight parking.
There are two waterfall areas to enjoy. The smaller falls at the trailhead’s beginning have a 40ft deep swimming hole, while the larger falls, located about 0.5 miles down the creek, have an 18ft drop and a smaller area for swimming.
You can walk behind the larger waterfalls along a cavern. The water flow is not that powerful, especially in summer, but summer is the best time to visit to ensure you can easily walk through the creek to the larger waterfalls. There are rope swings and trees to jump off of. This area gets packed with locals in the summer, so come early to get a parking spot.
Waterfall Height: The main waterfall at the end of the gorge trail is 18 ft high
Distance: A short walk from the parking lot leads you to the first minor falls and swimming holes. A 1.5-mile return walk through the creek leads you to the larger falls.
Best time to Visit: Spring to summer when the creek is easily passable
Parking: Small dirt lot, enough for 6-8 cars but some additional roadside parking available in a grassy area next to the entrance enough for 10-15 cars
This 175ft water waterfall in the Finger Lakes with a 150 ft drop is located in Ithaca, NY, near downtown. You can see it from the road, but it’s best to park and walk the short way to the bridge overlook on Lake Street and, if the water level is low, to the base of the waterfall itself, as in the photo above.
It is a popular fishing area, and although the falls create a natural pool, no swimming is allowed. It gets busy, but people come and go quickly. There are rock chairs and a table at the base of the falls.
Waterfall Height: 150 ft
Distance: 0.2 to the bridge overlook
Best time to Visit: Year-round
Parking: Multiple lots, located off of Lake Street
Wells falls is located in Tompkins County, less than a mile from downtown Ithica and part of the Six Mile Creek Natural Area. It sits next to an abandoned mill that has almost entirely been reclaimed by nature.
Waterfall Height: 40ft tall with 20ft tall dam on top of it
Distance: 0.25 miles one way, 5-15mins to see the falls from the parking area
Best time to Visit: Year-round
Parking: Park at the trailhead lot for Mulholland Wildflower Preserve off of Giles Road
Potters Falls (Green Tree Falls)
Potters Falls is also located in the Six Mile Creek Natural Area and is a popular spot for sunbathing. You can view these falls by walking upstream along the Greenway Trail and East Gorge Trail.
Waterfall Height: 25 ft
Distance: 2.4 miles one way
Difficulty: Moderate as you are required to walk through the creek along the uneven footing
Best time to Visit: Year-round, but the creek may be impassable during winter
Parking: Park at the trailhead lot for Mulholland Wildflower Preserve off of Giles Road
The next three waterfalls are located in the Fall Creek Gorge
Several waterfalls, including Triphammer Falls, Rocky Falls, and Horseshoe Falls, are located in the Fall Creek Gorge in Ithaca, New York. The gorge is stunning, with several easy walking trails and footbridges to view the falls.
Triphammer Falls is located at the intersection of University Ave. and East Ave. in the center of the Cornell campus. You can view the falls from the Triphammer Foot Bridge or East Ave. bridge or hike to the falls overlooks using the trailhead on the north rim, behind Risley Hall.
Waterfall Height: 55 ft
Distance: Currently unknown
Best time to Visit: year-round
Parking: Small to medium lots off of Thurston Ave and Forest Home Drive
One of four falls is located in the Fall Creek Gorge in Ithica in the center of Cornel University Campus. Rocky Falls trailhead is located at 42.45203, -76.4897
Waterfall Height: 25 ft
Distance: about 2-mile return
Best time to Visit: year-round
Parking: Street parking along the gorge
Horseshoe falls can be seen from the suspension bridge and also from the short footpath leading to the base of the falls. Walk over the suspension bridge and head down the stairs to the water’s edge.
Waterfall Height: 30 ft
Distance: 0.6 miles out and back
Best time to Visit:
Parking: Small 6 car lot off of Falls Creek Drive next to the pedestrian suspension bridge and near the old Hydroelectric plant
Cascadilla Gorge Trail
Nine waterfalls can be seen along this beautiful trail apart of Cornell University Botanical Gardens in Ithaca. There are a good amount of stone steps, stone bridges, and multiple overlooks.
The trail is seasonal as it closes during winter and during dangerous weather conditions. I’ve only ever walked out and back via the gorge trail but there is a flat trail near Stewart Ave about 1/2 way down the gorge that will take you along the rim and avoid some steps.
Waterfall Height: 8 to 80 ft
Distance: 1.3 miles return along the gorge trail
Difficulty: Easy/moderate due to stairs
Best time to Visit: Spring through early Fall, closes in winter
Parking: Paid and free street parking on Linn St or E Court St also parking at the Hoy Rd. Parking Garage
Buttermilk Falls State Park
This park has multiple waterfalls and is located in southwest Ithaca spanning over 811 acres. There are a number of hiking trails, a small lake, wetland areas, a natural swimming pool and campgrounds. Some of the trails such at the Gorge Trail and North section of the Lake Treman Trail close for the winter season. If visiting in summer make sure to arrive before 11 am to secure a parking spot. They do turn away cars once parking fills up.
You can see the largest waterfall a short distance from the parking lot where there is a natural pool open for swimming. If you do not mind a slight workout, I recommend taking the Gorge Trail to the Rim Trail which leads you up 100s of stairs for beautiful views of the gorge and its many waterfalls. To complete the loop, cross the road and loop back around to the rim trail to get back to the main parking lot.
Waterfall Height: Buttermilk Falls is 165 ft
Distance: 1.6 mile Buttermilk falls Gorge Trail; 4.3 mile Rim Trail and Gorge Trail and 4.5 mile Lake Treman Loop
Difficulty: All trails are moderate with uphill trek, many steps (typically wet) along the Gorge Trail
Best time to visit: Park is open year round,
Parking: Arrive before 11 am during the high season (summer) to get a spot
Fee: $9 per car
Robert H. Treman State Park
This park is 1,100 acres located in southern Ithaca. It has multiple waterfalls (the 115 ft Lucifer Falls being the most notable), hiking trails, swimming, and camping. The lower falls offer a natural swimming pool and a well-preserved Old Mill is located near the upper entrance.
I recommend hiking up the Rim Trail and down the Gorge Trail for views of the 12 waterfalls and wooded gorge below. At first the trail is through woodlands and then it opens up towards the gorge trail to a path that overlooks the gorge and creek below, also known as Enfield Glen.
There are a number of areas where you are able to access the banks of the gorge, walk along the creek and cool off in the water. You can hike upstairs to the top of Lucifer Falls and also get a full-frontal view of the 115ft waterfall from the rim trail.
If visiting in summer make sure to arrive before 11 am to secure a parking spot. They do turn away cars once parking fills up.
Waterfall Height: Lucifer Falls is 115 ft
Distance: Lucifer Falls via Gorge Trail 1.1 miles loop; Rim + Gorge Trail 4.3 mile loop
Difficulty: Easy to moderate depending on where you start, many trails have stairs. You can start at the Lower entrance and hike uphill much of the way, or start at the Upper Entrance near the Old Mill and hike downhill.
Best time to Visit: Park is open year-round, it gets very busy in the summer
Parking:Parking: Arrive before 11 am during high season (summer) to get a spot
Fee: $9 per car
Ludlowville (Falls Salmon Creek Falls)
Ludlowville Falls is located near Lansing, New York. There is a short trail to view the falls from the base but it can get very muddy and slippery. Once arriving at the playground walk towards the fence to view the falls.
Waterfall Height: 35ft – 40ft cascade
Distance: There are two viewpoints, one from the top at the playground and another from the base of the falls. It is a 5 min walk to the base of the falls.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate if you do the hike down to the base.
Best time to Visit: Year-round
Parking: Parking at the playground that has views of the falls
Wolcott Falls is located in Wolcott Falls State Park in Wayne County in the Northern Finger Lakes region. There are two viewing areas, an upper and lower. The upper viewing platform is easily accessed near the parking lot. The lower view requires a short and slightly steep walk on loose gravel to the base of the falls.
Waterfall Height: about 40-50 ft
Distance: 3 min walk to the base of the falls
Best time to Visit: Year-round although in dry summers it may reduce to a trickle
Parking: Parking lot in the park
Taughannock Falls is located in the town of Ulysses in Tompkins Country New York. It is one of the most visited in the Finger Lake Region and rightfully so. Its 215 ft drop makes it the tallest free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi (taller than Niagara Falls). There are a few different views points for Taughannock and multiple hiking trails.
To access the base of the falls, walk up the short Gorge Trail. Park off of route 89 in the parking area for the state park, right next to the Inn at Taughannock. This trail will lead you through the gorge to the base of the falls for a spectacular view.
Alternatively, you can park for free off of Jacksonville Road/Taughannock Rd. at the Taughannock Falls Overlook Visitor’s Center and enjoy a short walk to a viewpoint of the entire falls and gorge from a distance. You can also drive to another overlook of the upper falls from this parking lot.
The north and south rim trails lead you along the gorge through woodlands with some waterfall views. You can access the rim trail from the upper viewpoint parking lot or from the Gorge Trail trailhead area. I recommend the short Gorge Trail, as it has access to multiple waterfalls and the creek along the way with a stunning view of Taughannock Falls at the end.
Waterfall Height: 215ft
Distance: 1.8 mile out and back Gorge Trail, there are also the N and S rim trails but they are not as scenic as the Gorge Trail
Difficulty: Easy walk along a paved to a packed dirt road with multiple viewpoints and access to the gorge
Best time to Visit: Peak fall is a great time to visit when the woodlands surrounding the waterfall transform the gorge into a vibrant display of color.
Parking: Multiple lots at each entrance, the Gorge Trail lot fills up quickly but there is additional parking across the street
Fee: Free-$9 to park at the Gorge Trail trailhead
Oak Tree Falls
Oak Tree Falls is a quick stop off Rt 89 near Trumansburg, in Seneca County. It can be tough to see the waterfall through the trees so go in winter after the leaves have fallen for the best-unobstructed views.
There is no path to the base of the falls. There is an overlook with steep drop-offs that may be on private property. Please be on the lookout for no trespassing signs, but it appears the view from the trees that is a short hike from the road is not private property.
Waterfall Height: 30ft
Distance: A few minutes walk from the road, longer if you adventure past the Fall down the creek
Difficulty: moderate, not a kept trail
Best time to visit: Year-round, foliage hides the view during most of the year so winter isn’t a bad time to visit when leaves have fallen
Parking: Off of the road
Waverly Glen Falls
Waverly Glen Falls is located in Tioga County in the southern section of the Finger Lakes Region, a stone’s throw from the Pennsylvania border. It is a bit hidden in Waverly Glen park but can easily be reached via a short walk if you know it is there. To find the trail to the falls use the entrance at the intersection of West Pine Street and Moore Street. The footpath is at the end of the main road, behind a playground. Follow the trail through the chain-link fence pathway to the base of the falls and a bridge
Waterfall Height: 40 ft
Distance: 5 mins walk
Best time to visit: Early spring for the best flow. It is sometimes only a trickle in the summer months
Parking: Available in the park
Seneca Lake Water Falls
Located just outside of the village of Montour Falls, Deckertown Falls is a series of three cascading falls with a total height of 70 ft. The top portion of the waterfall is not legally accessible as it is on private land. However, you can access the lower falls and have a partial view of the cascades with a short walk from the parking lot.
From the small parking area (3-4 cars) you can reach the falls in a few minutes walk. The parking area is at the end of a residential road. There is a footpath along the falls into a forested area to view the top of the falls.
The cascading falls create two wading pools great for relaxing in the cool water. You can access the upper two falls by climbing up the slick rocks, but it is recommended not to climb the rocks because it’s private property.
It doesn’t take much time to explore especially if you are not swimming. The area is relaxing and covered by a canopy of greenery. You can walk downstream in ankle-deep water when the rocky waterway is exposed in the summer months. The surrounding area is a bit muddy and wet from the spray of the water but if you don’t mind a wet bum, there are plenty of rocks to sit on to enjoy the views.
I enjoyed this spot mainly because it was so secluded and only a few other people were here. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my swimsuit but if you want to enjoy Deckertown falls to its fullest, I recommend going for a swim and taking photos right under the canopy of rushing water.
Waterfall Height: 70 ft
Distance: You can see the falls about 100 feet from the parking area
Difficulty: Easy to get there, hard to climb up to the upper falls which is not recommended
Best time to view: Summer to early Fall
Parking: Limited, a small dirt lot at the end of a residential street enough for 3-4 cars
This beautiful 150ft waterfall is located in Lodi. It is unfortunately closed to the public. New property ownership has changed, and no trespassing signs are posted all over the area. There is no trail; you can only view the waterfall if you walk upstream through the stream.
Hector Falls is around 165ft and is quite a sight that seemingly comes out of nowhere when traveling down Rt 414. Unfortunately, only a portion is viewable while driving along the road. It is on the southeast side of Seneca Lake, about 3.0 miles north of Watkins Glen. You can view the 50ft section above the road from the car as you drive-by, or get a close-up view via kayak or boat on Seneca Lake.
There are a few spots to pull over right past the bridge if you want to get out of your car. Unfortunately, there is no official path to see the entirety of the falls, but if the water level is low, it’s possible to climb down to the base of the falls via a small footpath on the south end of the bridge.
Exercise extreme caution if getting out of your car to view the falls. Cars travel fast down Rt 414 and there is no official viewing area.
Waterfall Height: 165 ft, 50 ft can be seen from above the road
Distance: A short walk to view the falls from the roadside pull off
Difficulty: Easy as the view is right from your car as you drive by. To see more of the falls rent a kayak or take a boat ride on Seneca Lake
Best time to view: Year-round
Parking: A few spots off the road right past the bridge going south
Eagle Cliff Falls
Eagle Cliff waterfall is 41 feet high with a 16 ft wide plunge located within Havana Glen Park near the town of Montour Falls. The trail that leads to the falls has three flights of metal stairs but otherwise, it is a relatively flat stone trail through the gorge. The waterfall creates a natural swimming hole and smaller cascading waterfalls can be enjoyed along the trail.
The park closes in winter and gets pretty busy with campers in summer so avoid weekends and go early to enjoy this beauty peacefully.
This is one of my favorite falls to visit. It is a popular area for families and kids who love to swim but it is spacious and has plenty of exposed rocks to hang out on. Make sure to look closely at the rock wall (to the left of the main waterfall) to see the natural eagle formation, which of course has to be where the falls get their name.
Waterfall Height: 41 ft
Distance: 0.3 miles out and back
Difficulty: Moderate because of stairs and need to walk down a creek with uneven rocks
Best time to view: Summer to early Fall (opened seasonally)
Parking: Packed gravel lot big enough for 15 cars
Fee: $2 per car
Shequaga Falls is located in Montour Falls right behind a beautiful colonial building. A great view of the falls can be seen from the car if driven west, head-on toward the falls on Main Street. There is a small park leading to a lookout with a few benches and memorials.
There is also a bridge/overpass that can be seen at the top of the waterfall but there is no safe area to stop and view the falls but you can still drive by it if you like. It is only a few minutes away from the base of the falls. From Shequaga Falls Park, head north on Genessee Street, turn left onto Steuben St, turn left onto Mills St. Mills road is the street with the overpass over the falls.
Waterfall Height: around 165 ft
Distance: 0.1 to overlook from the street. It can be seen from the car
Best time to View: Year Round, Early spring for optimal flow. It may only be a trickle in summer
Parking: Free street parking
Aunt Sarah’s Falls
Aunt Sarah’s Falls is also in Montour Falls located right off the road along Route 14 and has a series of tiers. It is pretty dramatic when water levels are high but it reduces to no more than a trickle in dry summers. It is a quick stop and worth a view even if just for the towering rock formations. You can walk to the base but there is no access to the top of the tiers.
Height of the waterfall: 90 ft
Distance: Short walk across the street
Best time to visit: Seasonal waterfall, spring or after heavy rain is best, usually only a trickle in dry summers
Parking: Mid-size dirt lot across the street and a few spots to pull over in front of the falls.
Watkins Glen State Park
Watkins Glen State Park, located in Seneca country in the Finger Lakes Region is one of New York’s most beloved state parks. I have been to this park four times and will come back time and time again. The Gorge Trail trailhead is located a stone’s through from downtown Watkins Glen and this park has the most beautiful gorge trail I have ever hiked. It does get busy but the multiple waterfalls, hidden caves, stone bridges, and 100s of stairs all make the visit worth it.
The Gorge Trail is said to have 832 steps one way. There are two entrances; the upper and lower, both have large parking lots. A bus will take visitors between the two parking lots (for a small fee), so walking round trip on the trail is not required. The best views are from walking up the path against the water flow, but that means walking up all the stairs. There are over 800 steps on this trail, but the pace is slow due to crowds and photo opportunities, so the walk is considered easy and great for all fitness levels.
Wear waterproof shoes and quick-dry clothing as there are areas where you are forced to walk under the flowing waterfalls and will get a bit wet.
At the end of the gorge trail, a section called “Jacobs Ladder” has a series of steps that leads you to the upper parking lot. You can take the 1-mile bridge before Jacobs ladder and head back along the rim trail to avoid these stairs. There is nothing much to see along the gorge past the 1-mile mark, so you won’t be missing anything if you decide to turn back early. However, there are restrooms and vending machines at the upper parking lot.
Waterfall Height: Rainbow Falls is almost 150 ft
Distance: 1.5 miles one way along the Gorge Trail
Difficulty: Moderate due to multiple stairs
Best time to visit: Park is open year-round, but some trails close in winter. Go early in the am to avoid crowds
Parking: Multiple lots at both entrances.
Fee: Free entry
Cascade (Glenora) Falls
This waterfall looked pretty in pictures, but it is a part of an event space property that isn’t open to the public without booking. You can get a small glimpse of the waterfalls from the street but you will have to call the property for access and hope it isn’t rented. The closest public parking is a mile up the hill. This one isn’t worth the trip unless you have pre-approved access.
Keuka Lake Waterfalls
Kekua Lake Outlet Trail
Kekua Lake Outlet trail is a 7-mile multi-use trail that lies between Penn Yan on Keuka Lake and Dresden on Seneca Lake. It is open year-round for hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, cross country skiing, or snowmobiling (in certain areas)
There are multiple dams and waterfalls areas along this trail but Seneca Mills and Cascade Mills are the two most notable waterfalls, Seneca Mills being the most popular among the two. Both can be viewed via a short walk from a parking lot along the trail.
Waterfall Height: Seneca Mills Falls 35ft tall, Cascade Mills 20 ft tall
Distance: about 0.5 miles one way from the parking lot. Walking between the two falls along the trail is about a mile one way
Difficulty: Easy. 1.3 miles is paved asphalt near Penn Yan while further east, 5.7 miles of the trail is packed with gravel, dirt, and basalt
Best time to visit: Park is open year-round but some trails close in winter. Go early in the am to avoid crowds
Parking: Two small to medium lots off of Outlet Rd. Small 3-4 parking lot at the trailhead, a larger lot for 10 cars is just west of the small lot on Outlet Road
Fee: Free entry
Canandaigua Lake Waterfalls
This is one of my favorite waterfall hikes in the Finger Lakes. Grimes Glen is near Naples, NY, and features two main waterfalls and multiple smaller falls. There are a few ropes swings and a swimming hole at the main fall. You will need to walk upstream through the gully in order to see the waterfalls so come prepared with good grip water shoes. Water is usually ankle-deep but could be deeper depending on recent rainfall and time of year. There are facilities at the trailhead and a small parking lot. This park is carry-in, carry-out so please remember to leave no trace when visiting!
Waterfall Height: Two main waterfalls both about 60′ high
Distance: 1.1 miles round trip out and back
Difficulty: Easy/ moderate. You have to walk through the creek to get to the waterfalls
Best time to Visit: Later into Spring when water flow is at peak and the water is low enough and warm enough to walkthrough
Parking: Small lot 10-12 cars at the trailhead
Conklin’s gully is an adventurous hike near Naples, NY upstream, over slippery rocks, through the water with the opportunity to scale waterfalls. Wear a sturdy pair of water shoes or hiking boots!
The trail through the gorge is called the 12 Falls Trail and takes you through the creek. The water could be above ankle-deep after heavy rainfall or in early spring.
Waterfall Height: 12 waterfalls from 5 to 50ft
Distance: 3.4 miles out and back
Difficulty: Hard, scaling waterfalls with ropes is involved
Best time to Visit: Spring to summer when the waterfall isn’t too strong for ease of walking in the creek
Parking: Small lot at the trailhead
This waterfall is now said to be on private property. I’ve included the information below, but please do not attempt this hike if no trespassing signs are posted.
This trail is located behind the Naples highway department facility, surrounded by woodland. You can park on the premises but it is best to visit on the weekends when the facility is not operating. The trail takes you through a creek along a gorge to multiple waterfalls. The trail is not easily marked. It follows the creek so you will have to climb over rocks and small waterfalls to get to the bigger falls deeper into the gorge.
Waterfall Height: Multiple cascades and two larger falls 20 ft to 40 ft tall with irregular drops.
Distance: 1 mile out and back
Difficulty: Hard, it is a hike through a creek and over slick rocks and waterfalls
Best time to Visit: late spring to early summer
Parking: On-site at the Naples Highway Department
Barnes Creek Gully
Barnes Creek Gully is located near Onanda Park in Canandaigua and has multiple falls. There are trails along the creek to the waterfalls and to Hemlock Lake. Use the Barnes Creekbed Trail to get out to the major Fall. It is an unmarked trail but you are meant to follow the creek. Use Onanda Park Uplands Trail to access the waterfall overlooks. Both routes can be found in the All Trails App.
Waterfall Height: Multiple waterfalls 10 ft to 30 feet
Distance: 0.8 miles out and back Barnes Creekbed Trail or 1.4-mile loop trail Onanda Park Uplands Trail
Difficulty: Moderate as you are walking along slick rocks and through some water most of the year.
Best time to Visit: Spring when water flow is at its best. Summer the falls and creek are usually dried up.
Parking: Park at Onanda Park lot, enough for 40 cars
Fee: There may be a parking fee, no fee to access the trails
I have not found any notable waterfalls near this lake, but of course, will add any I find to this list.
This lake is one of two Finger Lakes (also Hemlock) that is relatively underdeveloped. I have not found any notable waterfalls near this lake to add to this list.
This trail to the lake features a few cascading waterfalls, but they can be reduced to a trickle throughout the year. This trail is still pretty and worth the trek to the lake. It gets muddy so avoid going after recent rainfall. Even after heavy rainfall the waterfalls are not always heavily flowing. This trail extends across the street to a 2.5-mile trail to Candice Lake.
Waterfall Height: 8-10ish feet
Distance: 8 miles out and back, takes about 1.5 miles to reach the lakeshore
Best time to Visit: Open year-round
Parking: Medium size lot at the trailhead
Conesus Lake Waterfalls
Paper Mill Falls
Paper Mill falls is in Papermill Park just south of the town of Avon, NY. It flows under a graffiti-covered bridge and can be seen year-round. There is a steep path to the base of the falls on the parking lot side of the falls. It is not an official trail but if you can manage it, better views can be seen at the base of the waterfall or midway through this trail.
Waterfall Height: 13 ft tall and about 30 ft wide
Distance: 5-minute walk from the parking area to the viewing area
Best time to Visit: Visible year-round from the pedestrian bridge above the crest. Spring to fall is the best time to hike to the base. Park closes at dark
Parking: There is a public parking area for 10 cars at the park.
Stony Brook State Park
Stony Brook State Parks is located about the same distance from Hemlock and Conesus Lakes.
There are multiple falls and trails at Stony Brook located near Dansville NY. The Gorge Trail is the best to follow to see the major falls and additional cascading falls. I found this park very relaxing and enjoyed the Gorge trail immensely. I took the West Rim trail down to the Gorge Trail to loop back to the parking lot. I recommend starting on the Gorge trail and walking upstream to get better views of the falls. You can connect to the West or East Rim trails to loop back to the parking lot, but I recommend walking back along the Gorge Trail because the Rim Trails are not very scenic. There are stairs along all the trails, they are not steep, but there are many. To avoid most stairs, stay on the Gorge Trail and turn back when you have had enough. There are not many stairs during the early stages of the Gorge Trail if you start at the parking lot and head upstream. Swimming is no longer allowed at the base of the falls due to excess amounts of trash left by visitors, but they have a natural stream-fed pool filled with water every morning for swimming.
Waterfall Height: Upper Falls 45ft, Middle Falls 20 ft, Lower falls 40ft
Distance: Gorge Trail 1.5 mile, Rim Trail Loop 2.3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate as there are a lot of stairs to climb at the start of the trail
Best time to Visit: Year-round, the falls are always flowing nicely even without heavy rainfall
Parking: Plenty of lots inside the park
Fee: $7 entry fee per vehicle on most days My-October
Letchworth State Park
Located in Livingston County, this park is the farthest west on this list, but the three major waterfalls here, Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls, are some of the most dramatic and iconic in the entire state. A visit to Letchworth State Park is definitely worth the trip. For a list of all the waterfalls at this park. I love spending the night here and catching the hot air balloons in the early mornings, gracefully sweeping over the waterfalls. Letchworth is a fantastic park to be during peak fall foliage. The waterfalls can all be seen from the 7 miles (one way) Gorge Trail, but this trail can be hard to follow and is the most scenic around the waterfall area. I recommend parking at the Trailhead lot near the upper falls and bridge off of RT 436 and walking downstream to the Lower Falls bridge and then back up the same way. You can also start at the Lower Falls Trailhead parking lot and head upstream. Unfortunately, there are no buses or alternative transportation so you will have to walk back to your car.
Waterfall Height: Upper 77 ft, Middle 107 ft, Lower 55ft
Distance: The Gorge Trail is 7 miles one way. For scenic waterfall views, use the section of the Gorge trail between Upper and Lower Falls, it is around 3 miles round trip and has some stairs.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate, the entire Gorge Trail can be hard to follow at times, the walkways along the waterfalls section is easy to follow and paved
Best time to Visit: Year Round, the waterfall is roaring even in dry summers
Parking: Ample parking all over the park
Fee: Day fee $17, no fee for overnight visitors
Wow, that is a lot of waterfalls! Can you believe there are still hundreds more out there in the Finger Lakes Region of New York? These are some of the most popular and most notable waterfalls in the Finger Lakes. If you are unsure where to start, your best bet is to pick a lake and stick to the waterfalls closest to it. Cayuga has the most notable falls nearby, but Letchworth State Park is the most dramatic of all the waterfalls in the Finger Lakes.
Check back for more updates on how to find the best waterfalls in the Finger Lakes.