North / Central New York Waterfalls

We are wrapping up our time here in northern New York. And while it has been good to us, and we have enjoyed getting to know it and its people,  I am SO excited about the next chapter. There’s a lot we will miss, there’s a lot of work to do, and I still have just a couple things left on my New York state bucket list. But I can’t wait to tell you where we’re headed. I gave a clue on my Instagram page the other day. Any guesses?

Let’s celebrate the place we’ve called home for the past three years just a little longer, though. North/central New York is beautiful. We’re lucky to live tucked between Lake Ontario, the Saint Lawrence River and the Adirondack Mountains. This location has made for excellent exploring. There are quite a few waterfalls that make an easy day trip from our home and we’ve visited a handful of them. For me, waterfalls will never lose their magic.

We visited Chittenango Falls, located in Chittenango Falls State Park in Cazenovia, NY about two years ago. There had been a lot of recent rainfall. The surrounding rivers were swollen and the falls were roaring. There is a boardwalk loop trail that went down, over, up and around the entire falls. Since the day was so miserable weather-wise we did not do this. It looked very cool and I wished it wasn’t 40 degrees and raining. 40 degrees and raining is the definition of the worst.


We did a snowshoe hike to Rainbow Falls in the Tug Hill State Forest. The Tug Hill region gets a ton of snow and has very harsh winters. Someone told me it gets the most snowfall east of the Rocky Mountains. I believe it. We live adjacent to the Tug Hill and the amount of snow that falls in the winter (fall and spring too, lets be honest) is no joke. Therefore, Rainbow Falls freezes in the winter. A 100 foot tall frozen icicle. Worth the hike.


Whitaker Falls was an immersive experience. Literally. Which also made it my favorite of our waterfall adventures. You take a very, very, short walk down to the river, then you can play in the water. I’m the kind of person who wants to know not only what a place looks like, but also what it feels, sounds, tastes and smells like. Maybe that’s just me. While I did not take an actual taste of the waterfall, we did climb down the rocks next to it, like natural stairs, to get from one level of the river to the next and enjoyed a walk in cool, ankle deep water. It was the perfect adventure for a hot July day. I’m sure there are times in the spring, or after a lot of rainfall, when this activity would not be safe. So do use your good judgement. The falls are located in Whitaker Park in Lowville (pronounced lOW-ville, emphasis on “Ow”, like you stubbed your toe, not “low” like get low), NY.


I get teased a little by my husband about our adventure to Gleasmans Falls. The falls are found at the end of the 3.3 mile out-and-back Gleasmans Falls trail. The hike to the falls is easy. Flat, sandy, wooded, for the most part. When you get to the end of the trail you’re rewarded with a narrow river, gorge, and waterfall(s) to explore. Its quiet, tranquil and lovely. The river is stained copper by the tree tannins. What I get teased about is the fact that you kind of start to hear banjos on the drive in, if you know what I mean. Which, makes sense, since you’re heading in to the wild. But don’t be surprised when you pull off the main road to find the trailhead and drive for a few miles on very narrow, very bumpy two-track. We weren’t really going for “wild” that day, were in the very early days of parenthood, had a few adventuresome guests in tow and were glad for our all-wheel drive. This happens every so often (see Quinault Lake loop) when I plan adventures. Just go with it.


Of course, last but not least, we certainly cannot leave out the most famous of the New York waterfalls. The Niagara Falls. Which I have visited several times. This was a quick pit-stop on a traverse through Canada to New York from Michigan one yucky March day. Obviously, we couldn’t pass by and not pause to say hi. Miles was not impressed.


*this was the Canadian side of the falls, which has better views, if you ask me.




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