One of the fabulous sights that Upstate New York is know for, is certainly waterfalls. You can travel all over Upstate NY and see amazing waterfalls wherever you go. In fact, you can even find many of these waterfalls cataloged on the internet at http://nyfalls.com/waterfalls/map/. However, if you grew up in Upstate NY, you know there are many more waterfalls across the state that AREN’T listed on the available maps. These are the hidden and secret waterfalls of New York. In this post, we’ll take you on a tour through one of these locations. This location is so unknown, that you would have to be a true local to even know it exists. In fact, many of the “true locals” of the area are even unaware of this jewel of a location right in their backyard! Let’s take a little hike together shall we? Let me show you around this truly hidden, secret, and unknown gem of a location, located in a tiny Upstate NY town.
The hike begins here at the location we like to call “little falls” or “lower falls”. This area is dominated by lots of flat rock that steps off gently at the mouth of gorge. At this point the hike is quite a simple one. You do however need to get into the creek bed for the journey, as just up around the next bend, the walls become too steep to climb easily and necessitate traversing the rocks and water. Expect if you visit, that you will easily get soaked to the knee over the short mile or so hike from this “lower falls” to “upper falls”.
Just a few minutes into the hike, you’ll approach what we like to call “middle falls”. Although not very large, this area is quite picturesque, and is the true entry to the gorge area. You’ll want to climb the right hand side of the falls here to continue on the hike. There is a nice exposed flat rock ledge that is accessible in all but the highest water conditions. True to the nature of this being a hidden and unknown place, you won’t find any well worn paths, or walking trails of any type. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find little if any signs of human activity as you travel the creek. Let’s take a closer look.
Once you make your way up over this small waterfall, find a shallow place to wade your way through to the other side, and you can sit and relax above the waterfall in one of my favorite spots. I’ve hiked this gorge for over 30 years, and on only two of those occasions have I ever met up with anyone else exploring the gorge. The only sound you will hear is that of the water burbling in the creek and crashing over the falls. It is a very serene, wonderful place to get away from everything and everyone, and take a little time to relax, think, and recharge your battery.
Once you’ve enjoyed a few moments at middle falls, it’s time to continue the hike upstream. This is the portion that you are going to certainly get soggy shoes in, as the gorge gets quite deep and the walls very steep in this section. The only real way to go is in the water.
While travelling this portion of the gorge, you’ll be treated to a view of what remains of the original grist mill for the little Upstate NY town at this location. Nothing of the mill building remains except the pilings. If you dare climb up, you can still see where the drive shaft from the waterwheel was routed into the wall where a gearbox was located, turning the power 90 degrees and up to power the grist mill operation so many years ago. While there have been a few great views and things to see along the hike so far, the real treat is just a short walk upstream to what we like to call “upper falls”.
I have never seen another set of photos depicting the water at a higher flow than the day we ventured in with our cameras in March. Much of this has to do with access to this area being very difficult if the water level is much higher than it was on this day. Normally, this time of year would not be a very enjoyable hike, as temperatures are typically very cool in Upstate NY in March. Being down in the gorge makes it even colder, as it is deep enough that this area gets very little, if any direct sunlight ever. On this day though, we were treated to a very rare for this time of year, 60 degree temperature. However, on the floor of the gorge it was still just a little over 40 degrees, so dress warmly if you come!
One thing you will notice in these pictures is how dark they are. This has much to do with the lack of natural light down in the depths of gorge, along with the tree canopy that blocks much of the light as well. If you decide to bring your camera, be prepared for very low light conditions, regardless of the time of day you visit.
If you look closely at the picture above and the one below, you will notice there is an old arch style concrete bridge just a little further upstream. If the water is a little lower when you visit, you’ll be able to climb the right hand side of these falls, as the rocks almost form a staircase. On this day however, the “steps” were too wet, mossy, and icy to take the chance of falling with all of our camera gear into the water. On a hot summer day though, the pool at the bottom of this waterfall makes an excellent swimming hole to cool off in, with the water reaching chest to almost neck high on a 6 foot tall person.
Normally, we would continue to hike to the concrete bridge, where we would exit the gorge, and then walk back down to where we had parked our car earlier. The trip up top will take you back through a cemetery located at the top of the gorge wall as you wind your way back to where you began. There are many opportunities for your camera from the top, if you dare get close to the ledge.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of this hidden waterfall location. You can be assured that when the opportunity presents itself, we’ll take another trip through this area with our cameras for some more pictures to share. If you have figured out where this location is, we ask that you keep it a secret too, as to preserve it for future generations in it’s untraveled, natural, rustic state. Also, if you visit, be sure to take out whatever you bring in and don’t litter!
If you enjoy waterfalls, check out another one of our favorite locations, on the other side of the country from Upstate NY. Follow the link to visit the waterfall located at the Estrella Star Tower located in Goodyear, AZ, just outside of Phoenix.