Waterfalls You Can Visit In
Letchworth State Park


      A Waterfall Guide to Letchworth State Park by Scott A. Ensminger and Douglas K. Bassett. Now in its third edition this 104 page expanded and updated guide contains directions on how to reach the best viewing area for more than 25 waterfalls found in the park. There are nine maps that show the locations of the waterfalls and the trails used to reach the viewing areas. Over 50 black and white photographs of the waterfalls are included in the guide.

Click on the cover photo to the right for more information.

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Return to Waterfalls You Can Visit In Letchworth State Park

     Below you will find descriptions of several waterfalls found in Letchworth Stare Park. To the right of the waterfall name is a link that will take you to a trail map of the area where the waterfall is located. This page is part of the Letchworth State Park Information page by the Western New York Waterfall Survey. For an alphebetical listing of the parks waterfalls that contains GPS location data click here.


The Upper Falls          Trail Map 1

     Starting from the southernmost Falls Area parking lot, the Upper Falls can be seen by walking 0.3 mile southwest on the Gorge Trail (1). The Upper Falls is 70 feet high, has a curving horseshoe-shaped crest that is roughly 300 feet wide, and faces northeast. A substantial portion of the crest is overhung or nearly vertical. In the late 1870's an attempt was made by the railroad to slow the upstream retreat of the Falls by placing concrete within the curve of the horseshoe. In times of low water, you may be able to see this concrete. Just 400 feet upstream of the Upper Falls is the Erie Railroad High Bridge. This 675-foot long bridge stands 234 feet above the Genesee River. The original bridge was a timber structure built in 1852, which was destroyed by fire in 1875. The iron bridge we see today is an improved version of the bridge that was built after the 1875 fire.

For a TopoZone map of the location of the Upper Falls click here.


The Middle Falls          Trail Map 2

     Starting from the southernmost Falls Area parking lot, the Middle Falls can be seen by walking 0.2 mile northeast on the Gorge Trail (1). The Middle Falls is 107 feet high and has a rather straight crest which is roughly 285 feet wide. The falls faces to the northeast. The northwest end of the crest is overhung, while the remainder of the crest is nearly vertical or very steeply terraced.
     The Seneca Indians believed that the sun stopped at midday to gaze in awe at the great beauty of Ska-ga-dee, (the Middle Falls). The Middle Falls is generally considered the most impressive of the three cataracts found in the park. It is also considered by some to be the third most impressive waterfall in the western half of New York State, preceded by the Horseshoe Falls and American Falls. From April through October, the Middle Falls is illuminated by 5,000 watts of white light each evening. Click here or here for another photo of the Middle Falls.

For a TopoZone map of the location of the Middle Falls click here.


The Lower Falls          Trail Map 3

     Starting from the Octagon Area parking lot, walk southwest, (through the picnic area, past the large picnic shelter) to the Gorge Trail (1). Follow the trail westward and in less than 0.1 mile take the Foot Bridge Trail (6A) to your left, and descend the steps into the gorge. A short distance past the end of the steps is a side trail to your right (west). Take this trail and in 0.1 mile you will be at the best viewing area for the Lower Falls. Return to the main trail and follow it to the right (southeast) a short distance to Table Rock, a large flat area which was once the bed of the Genesee River. The Lower Falls is visible from the western end of Table Rock. Follow the stairs downward and you will soon come to a stone foot bridge that crosses the Genesee River, 35 feet below. During a flood in June of 1972, the raging Genesee River flowed over this bridge.
     The appearance of the Lower Falls has changed dramatically since the mid-1950's. At that time the Lower Falls consisted of two distinct sections, a lower section and an upper section, with about 350 feet separating them. The crest of the lower section was located roughly 350 feet upstream of the foot bridge. It had a drop of approximately 30 feet and a crest width of roughly 70 feet. The crest of the upper section of the Lower Falls had a drop of approximately 40 feet and a crest width of roughly 300 feet. Click here to view some historical photos of the Lower Falls.
     Today the lower section of the Lower Falls has been eroded into two smaller falls. These falls are located about 250 feet downstream from the upper section of the Lower Falls and have a total drop of roughly 15 feet. The river bed between the two sections of the Lower Falls has been deepened considerably by the powerful Genesee River. The upper section of the Lower Falls now has a drop of 55 feet and faces north-northeast. The crest of the upper section is overhung for much of its width. As the two lower sections continue to retreat upstream, they will unite with the upper section, forming a single waterfall with a 70-foot drop and a 300-foot wide crest. Click here for another photo of the Lower Falls.

For a TopoZone map of the location of the Lower Falls click here.


Timber Tunnel Cascade          Trail Map 1

     Timber Tunnel Cascade is located roughly 0.3 mile south of the Upper Falls, on the west bank of the Genesee River. The cascade can best be seen from the Genesee Valley Canal Trail (7) which is located on the east side of the park. The viewing area is located about 0.7 mile west of Route 436 and about 0.2 mile south of the Erie Railroad High Bridge. The cascade is best seen when the trees are free of leaves, and even then you will still have to look between the trees.
     Timber Tunnel Cascade has a total height of roughly 140 feet, and faces to the east. For the first 100 feet of its decent, the cascade is hidden from view by very thick tree cover, giving the Cascade its name. When the creek emerges from this “Timber Tunnel” it is about 10 feet wide and cascades about 40 feet down the cliff face and into the Genesee River.
     If the creek is running high during your visit, you can get a side view of the cascade from the Gorge Trail (1), from the viewing area at the crest of the Upper Falls. Look to the southwest, along the cliff face.

For a TopoZone map of the location of the Timber Tunnel Cascade click here.


Shadow Cascade          Trail Map 1



     Shadow Cascade can be seen from the Gorge Trail (1), just southwest of a small overlook at the crest of the Upper Falls. As the trail crosses Deh-ge-wa-nus Creek, look to your right (northwest) and you will see Shadow Cascade about 30 feet away. The Cascade is 14 feet high with a six-foot wide crest and faces southeast.


For a TopoZone map of the location
of the Shadow Cascade click here.


Deh-ge-wa-nus Falls          Trail Map 1

     Deh-ge-wa-nus in the Seneca Indian language means "The two falling voices." The Falls is located on Deh-ge-wa-nus Creek, just southwest of a small overlook on the Gorge Trail (1) at the crest of the Upper Falls. Deh-ge-wa-nus Falls is east of the trail. It can be seen best from the east side of the park on the Genesee Valley Canal Trail (7), a short distance north of the Erie Railroad High Bridge. The Falls is 14 feet high with a 10-foot crest that is slightly overhung and faces southeast. The Falls is less than 40 feet from the crest of the Upper Falls.


For a TopoZone map of the location of the Deh-ge-wa-nus Falls click here.


Wee Water Willy          Trail Map 2


     Wee Water Willy is a 117-foot high ribbon falls with a two-foot wide crest and faces south-southeast. The upper half of the Falls is nearly vertical, while the bottom half is overhung. The Falls can be seen from an overlook found on the Gorge Trail (1), at the crest of the Middle Falls. Wee Water Willy is located about 100 feet to the northeast of this overlook.


For a TopoZone map of the location
of the Wee Water Willy click here.



Deh-ga-ya-soh Falls          Trail Map 2


     In the Seneca Indian language Deh-ga-ya-soh means "Nameless Spirits." The Falls is found on Deh-ga-ya-soh Creek and is best seen from the Genesee Valley Canal Trail (7), on the east side of the park. The best viewing area is roughly 0.3 mile northeast of the Middle Falls. Deh-ga-ya-soh Falls is a complex ribbon falls with sections that are overhung, nearly vertical, and moderately sloped. The Falls has a total height of 150 feet, an eight-foot wide crest, and faces east-southeast. Click here for another photo of Deh-ga-ya-soh Falls.

For a TopoZone map of the location
of the Deh-ga-ya-soh Falls click here.


Inspiration Falls          Trail Map 2




     This spectacular ribbon falls is located a short distance east of the Inspiration Point Overlook. The Falls has a drop of 350 feet. It is comprised of a 65 foot very near vertical upper section, a 145 foot overhung middle section, followed by a 140 foot almost vertical lower section. The crest is only one-foot wide and faces south-southwest. It can be seen from the Gorge Trail (1) near the road to the Trout Pond, but it is best seen from the Genesee Valley Canal Trail (7) on the east side of the park, about 800 feet west of the East Park Road. If you are viewing the Falls on a windy day, the overhung section may be blown about by the wind and sway back and forth. Click here for a view from Inspiration Point.


     Taughannock Falls, 8 miles north of Ithaca, New York, is often claimed to be the highest waterfall in the state and sometimes even in all of the northeast. It has a single vertical drop of 215 feet. Inspiration Falls has a total drop of 350 feet, with a middle section that has a vertical drop of 145 feet. Which waterfall is the highest will be left for you to decide.



For a TopoZone map of the location of the Inspiration Falls click here.


Copyright © 2016 by Scott A. Ensminger.
This information may not be reproduced without written permission.

    You can send me e-mail at: falzguy@verizon.net



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