Van Natta's Falls
Ithaca, New York

Location: Central Tompkins County, Giles Street, City of Ithaca.

     Starting from the center of the City of Ithaca, follow Route 79 East. At 0.2 of a mile past the intersection with Route 366 (Mitchell Street) turn right (southwest) onto Water Street. At the bottom of the hill you will come to the intersection with Giles Street. The entrance to the parking area for the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve is a short distance to the right (west) on the south side of Giles Street, just before crossing the bridge over Six Mile Creek.

      From the parking area walk back to Giles Street and cross it. Turn left (west) and walk across the bridge over Six Mile Creek. Be sure to check out the view of the falls from the bridge. About 0.1 of a mile past the bridge turn right and follow the trail downhill as it curves to the right. Roughly 0.25 of a mile from Giles Street you will reach Six Mile Creek and the base of Van Natta's Falls.

Van Natta's Falls Map

     The name of this waterfall is derived from the Van Natta's Dam which was built on the crest of the falls in 1907. The dam is 12 feet high and 142 feet wide. After passing over the dam the waters of Six Mile Creek tumble over a 6 foot cascade, a 15 foot nearly vertical drop, and a 17 foot cascade. This gives Van Natta's Falls a total height of 38 feet. On the east side of the falls are the disintegrating remains of an old hydropower plant.

Van Natta's Falls

     An 1866 article on Six Mile Creek, believed to have been written by Spence Spencer, mentions that the falls is usually called "The Well Fall." This is in allusion to deep and round pot holes found in stream beds near some waterfalls. The article mentions that there is little or no evidence of these wells at this waterfall and the name must have been erroneously given to it and suggests calling it "Cornell Fall." The author believes this waterfall was confused with the Upper Falls of Six Mile Creek (today now known as Potter's Falls, located about 1.7 miles upstream) as it has "the largest and most distinctly defined well in all this region."

     While at the base of Van Natta's Falls be sure to checkout the cliffs downstream on the western bank of the creek. Roughly 200 feet away the cliffs approach 100 feet in height. If the tributary streams are flowing well you'll be able to see Bead Falls and Lace Falls plunging down the cliff face. These waterfalls have an estimated height of 75 feet.

     My appreciation is given to Stephen A. Tobin for supplying me with his names of these three waterfalls and the photo to the left. It was taken from the Giles Street bridge. The crest of Van Natta's Falls is visible at the bottom left and Bead Falls and Lace Falls can be seen in the center.

                  Bead Falls and Lace Falls
               © 2001 by Stephen A. Tobin

     Stephen spent 11 years researching and documenting waterfalls in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He has supplied me with quite a bit of information on waterfalls the Ithaca area.

For a Map Quest map of the area click here.

For a ACME Mapper 2.0 map of the area click here.

Web site: Friends of Six Mile Creek

Copyright © 2008 by Scott A. Ensminger.
This information may not be reproduced without written permission.

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