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 St. Helena Falls

     The four St. Helena Falls tumble down a cliff face on the east bank of the Genesee River. The cliff is located about 0.5 mile southeast of the lower St. Helena picnic area. The river flat below and to the southeast of this picnic area was once the site of a prosperous pioneer village known as St. Helena. Founded in the early 1800's, the village is believed to have been named in honor of Saint Helena, who is credited with finding the Cross on which Jesus was crucified. In the 1850's the village had several merchants, 25 families, and a schoolhouse with 75 students. However the growth of St. Helena was cut short when the village was bypassed by the Genesee Valley Canal in 1862 and was later bypassed by the railroads. In 1920 only 12 families lived in the dwindling village. St. Helena faded into history in the 1940's.
     The best viewing areas of three of the falls is along the riverís edge, which is accessible from the St. Helena Trail. The hike along the river is a little rugged and brushy in spots. A good pair of hiking boots and long pants are recommended. The hike is a little over 1.5 miles long. Starting from the lower St. Helena picnic area, follow the St. Helena Trail (13) to the bottom of the hill. As you walk down the hill look to your right (southeast), and you may be able to catch a glimpse of Crucifix Cascade between the trees. When you reach the bottom of the hill turn right (south) on a short spur trail. Follow this spur trail southward 0.4 mile to the bank of the Genesee River. When you reach the river turn left (southeast) and head down river along the river bank. Spring floods often change the features of the river bank so please use caution and good judgment to determine the best route. Just remember to keep the river to your right. Roughly 0.2 mile after leaving the spur trail and making a gradual turn to the northeast, you will be looking across the Genesee River at the first of the St. Helena Falls, Canoe Shower Falls.

     Permission to exit the spur trail has been granted by park officials as the river flat is a designated fishing area. Park regulations prohibit swimming or wading in the river. This is for your safety. The strong river currents are very treacherous. Do not attempt this hike if the river is high or expected to rise. At times of high water the entire river flat is flooded by the lake behind the Mount Morris Dam and is completely inaccessible to hikers.


Canoe Shower Falls          Trail Map 6




     Canoe Shower Falls can be seen from the Gorge Trail (1), a short distance southwest of the upper St. Helena picnic area, but it is best seen from the St. Helena river flats. (See description above on how to reach this viewing area.) The Falls is slightly overhung, has a height of 40 feet, a crest width of 16 feet and faces northwest. If the stream's volume is low when you are visiting the park, the crest width of the Falls may be only a few feet.



For a TopoZone map of the location of Canoe Shower Falls click here.


Crucifix Cascade          Trail Map 6




     From the Canoe Shower Falls viewing area on the St. Helena river flats you can see Crucifix Cascade about 1,000 feet to the northeast. To reach the best viewing area of this cascade, continue down the riverís edge (northeast) from the Canoe Shower Falls viewing area along the bank of the Genesee River. Soon you will be looking across the Genesee River at Crucifix Cascade. This ribbon waterfall is 70 feet in height, has a crest width of 2 feet, and faces northwest.


 

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


Wriggling Waters          Trail Map 6





     To reach the viewing area of this Falls, continue down the riverís edge (northeast) about 400 feet past the Crucifix Cascade viewing area. You will now be across the river from Wriggling Waters, a west-northwest facing ribbon falls with a height of 60 feet and a crest of 5 feet. If the stream's volume is just right, you will see strands of wriggling water falling from an overhung section of this Falls.



For a TopoZone map of the location of Wriggling Waters click here.


Abutment Falls          Trail Map 6


     Continue down river (northeast). After walking about 900 feet you will reach the western abutment of the St. Helena Bridge, which was removed in 1950. Just past the abutment is the St. Helena Trail (13). If the smaller creeks are flowing, you will get the best view of the fourth St. Helena Falls, Abutment Falls, from here. Abutment Falls is on the east side of the river, to the south of the eastern bridge abutment. The Falls is 50 feet high, with a crest of 3 feet. To get back to the lower St. Helena picnic area, follow the trail to the west, heading away from the river. In 0.5 mile you will reach the lower St. Helena picnic area.



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


Detour Cliff Cascade          Trail Map 7


     Detour Cliff Cascade can be seen from the Smokey Hollow Overlook, which is located on the park road, two miles south of the Perry entrance. Look to the southeast and you should be able to see the Cascade descending the cliff face, which is a little under a mile away. The Cascade may also be seen from the Smokey Hollow Trail (15), about 0.75 mile east of the Overlook, and can be glimpsed between the trees farther along the trail. Detour Cliff Cascade has a height of about 110 feet, a crest width of roughly 6 feet, and faces north. If the lake behind the Mount Morris Dam is high during your visit, sections of this trail may be flooded and thus inaccessible. Also the lower portion of the cascade will be underwater, and it will then appear shorter.

For a TopoZone map of the location of Detour Cliff Cascade click here.


Horse Tail Falls          Trail Map 7



     Horse Tail Falls can also be seen from the Smokey Hollow Overlook, as well as the Smokey Hollow Trail (15), about 1 mile east of the overlook. Horse Tail Falls, located roughly 700 feet north of Detour Cliff Cascade, is about 130 feet in height, with a crest of roughly 10 feet, and faces northwest. If you are visiting the park when the smaller creeks are flowing well, you should see a few other unnamed falls tumbling down the cliff face near this waterfall. If the lake behind the Mount Morris Dam is high during your visit, sections of this trail may be flooded and thus inaccessible. Also the lower portion of the falls will be underwater, and it will then appear shorter.

For a TopoZone map of the location of Horse Tail Falls click here.


Sawmill Chute          Trail Map 8

     Sawmill Chute is found on the Silver Lake Outlet 1.1 miles northeast of the Perry entrance to the park. From the northern end of the bridge that crosses the outlet, follow the western spur of the Gibsonville Trail (19) to the west of the park road. Roughly 125 feet from the park road turn left (south) leaving the trail and carefully find your own way to the edge of the bluff above the outlet for a view of this cascade. Use caution when near the edge of the bluff as there are no railings and it is a 20 foot drop to the bank of the outlet. Sawmill Chute is a moderately sloped cascade with a vertical drop of 13 feet and a crest width of 34 feet. The crest of the cascade faces to the north northeast.

For a TopoZone map of the location of Sawmill Chute click here.
Waterline Cascade          Trail Map 8


      Starting from the trailhead of the Kisil Point Trail (18), located 1 mile northeast of the Perry entrance to the park on the east side of the road, follow the trail to the east. You will quickly come to a foot bridge that crosses an unnamed tributary to the Silver Lake Outlet. Continue along the trail for roughly 100-feet and turn left (northwest) on a small path. Use caution on the path as it may be very slippery. Follow the path as it descends into the ravine of the creek. When you reach a small flat area turn around for a view of Waterline Cascade. The cascade has a crest that is 18 feet wide that faces to the north northeast and drop of 10 feet.


For a TopoZone map of the location of Waterline Cascade Falls click here.
Waterline Falls          Trail Map 8


     Starting from the trailhead of the Gibsonville Trail (19) 1.1 miles northeast of the Perry entrance to the park, follow the trail to the east for roughly 100 feet and turn right (south) onto a small path. The path soon descends into the valley of the Silver Lake Outlet and you will quickly arrive at the bank of the outlet and be standing across from the falls.Waterline Falls faces to the northeast and has a crest that is 18 feet wide. The total vertical drop of the falls is 19 feet.

For a TopoZone map of the location of Waterline Falls click here.
Papermill Falls          Trail Map 8

     Starting from the trailhead of the Gibsonville Trail (19) follow the trail eastwards. About 600 feet from the park road you will pass a side trail to the right (east). Continue along the main trail and in roughly 600 feet you will arrive at a stone chimney for the Civilian Conservation Corps officers barracks that once stood here. Follow the main trail crossing the bridge over Little Creek. Around 200 feet past the bridge watch for a path to the right (east) that leads to the viewing area for the upper portion of Paper Mill Falls. Use caution when near the edge of the cliff as there are no railings and it is a 40 foot drop to the bottom of the cliff.
     Paper Mill Falls is a triple waterfall consisting of an upper falls and two lower falls. The upper portion of the falls has a crest that is 18 feet wide and a total drop of 25 feet. A shale pinnacle splits the lower section into two drops. Both have a drop of 24 feet.

For a TopoZone map of the location of Papermill Falls click here.
Crapsey Clay Falls          Trail Map 9


     Located roughly 0.3 mile north of the Hogs Back Overlook, Crapsey Clay Falls can be seen from the Highbanks Trail (20), south of the Highbanks Recreation Area. From the trail look to the west, and you will see this 200-foot high southeast facing ribbon falls, which has a crest of roughly six feet. The upper half of the Falls is overhung, while the lower half is a very steep cascade. The best view of the Falls is from the overlook where the Highbanks Trail (20) makes a turn to the north. From this overlook, Crapsey Clay Falls is about 0.5 mile away. The large ravine above the Falls was formed by a great mud slide in 1928. If the lake behind the Mount Morris Dam is high during your visit, the lower portion of the falls will be underwater, and it will appear much shorter.

     To view an animation of Crapsey Clay Falls on a windy Spring day click here.

For a TopoZone map of the location of the Crapsey Clay 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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