Spafford Valley, New York
Location: Southwestern Onondaga County, Spafford Valley, near the southern end of Otisco Lake. Latitude: N 42.82204 Longitude: W 76.24125
For a Map Quest map of the area click here.
Directions: From Amber, New York located on the east side of Otisco Lake, follow Otisco Valley Road (County Road 124) southwards for 5.4 miles to Sawmill Road and turn right (southwest). In 0.6 of a mile you will come to a T-intersection with Moon Hill and Masters Roads which is a little ways past West Valley Road. Turn right (northwest) onto Moon Hill Road going uphill and in less than 100 feet, just after crossing Bucktail Creek, left (southwest) into a very small, three car parking area for the falls. Alternative parking is available on the shoulders of Masters or Sawmill Road.
Bucktail Falls is located on private property. At the time of this writing (10/2011) the owner has very graciously granted permission for the public to view the waterfall. The property and access trail are currently un-posted. Keep your visit short, respect the land, pick up trash left by thoughtless others and hopefully the falls will remain open to the public.
From the parking area follow an unmarked dirt trail to the southwest. The base of a cliff will be a short distance to your right (west). In roughly 150 feet from Moon Hill Road you will arrive at the base of Bucktail Falls. The falls is developed in the Ludlowville Formation of the Middle Devonian Period. The formation consists of a black colored shale with layers of limestone and sandstone. Take note of the lush greenery of the mosses, lichens, liverworts and ferns to the right of the falls. When the leaves are on the trees the falls is in shadow even on a very sunny day.
Bucktail Falls is 28 feet high, has a crest that is 11 feet wide at an elevation of 890 feet and faces to the northeast. As Bucktail Creek passes over the crest it first falls freely through the air. On the southern flank of the falls the vertical drop is roughly 8 feet while on the northern flank the drop is roughly 17 feet. The veil of falling water then strikes a ledge, turns slightly northwards and then steeply cascades into a small pool below the falls. Because of this angled descent the appearance of the falls changes dramatically as one moves around the base of the falls.
In May of 2009 I was returning from a hike with the owner of Bucktail Falls. He stopped at his car and I continued on to mine which was parked near the falls. When I arrived at my car I came upon a group of individuals preparing to leave the area. Noticing that several women in the group were sobbing. I asked what was going on. A woman said “This is hallowed ground now.” They got into their vehicles and drove off.
The owner of the falls arrived at my car a few minutes later and we decided to take a last look at Bucktail Falls for the day. Near the falls we noticed some flowers and a cross placed near a large rock by the falls. The owner said “That’s the Marry’n Rock. I married my wife here as did my son.”
I mentioned the group that had just driven off. As we looked into the small pool below the falls, we noticed that some ashes has been scattered in it. The owner told me that he was not contacted for permission to scatter the ashes. He said that he wished he had gotten to talk to the group and then mentioned that he did not have a problem with the group scattering the ashes. I thought to myself "What a gracious and kindhearted man this is." The owner has stated to me that he does not have problem with people visiting Bucktail Falls, just treat the land with respect. With your help this falls will remain open to the public.
You may be wondering where the name Bucktail comes from. Asahel Roundy, who was born in Rockingham, Vermont on July 29, 1784, came to the Town of Spafford on horseback in 1807. He obtained the rank of Captain from the State of New York, having commanded a company from the town in the War of 1812. Captain Roundy was a prominent and important pioneer of the town, being described as a man physically and mentally well equipped. For a time he was the Justice of the Peace for the town. He bought land in the eastern part of the town then laid out and built a very rugged road that passed near the falls.
In 1819 the New York Democratic-Republican Party was split into two factions: the "Clintonians" (allies of Governor DeWitt Clinton), and the "Bucktails" (allies of State Senator Martin Van Buren). The Bucktails's insignia was a deer's tail worn on one's hat. Captain Roundy was an active member of the Bucktails. The road that he built was the subject of some jest at the time and became known as Bucktail Road. It is believed that the falls received its name because of its nearness to the now abandoned Bucktail Road.
For a ACME Mapper 2.0 map of the area click here.
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The information on this web site does not give anyone the right to trespass on private property.
You must obtain permission from the landowner to enter private property.
Recreation on private property is a privilege, NOT A RIGHT.
Copyright © 2012 by Scott A. Ensminger.
This information may not be reproduced without written permission.
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