10 Spectacular Waterfalls in New York State Not Named Niagara Falls

by Joe Dorish 9 days ago in nature

See Ten Amazing Waterfalls in New York

10 Spectacular Waterfalls in New York State Not Named Niagara Falls

Just about everybody in the world knows about Niagara Falls but the state of New York contains a plethora of amazing waterfalls. While none of these waterfalls are as large as Niagara Falls some of them are as tall or even taller than mighty Niagara.

All of these spectacular New York State waterfalls are tourist attractions today and some of them have been attracting visitors for hundreds of years and have been written about by famous poets and painted by famous artists. Anyone who visits these spectacular New York State waterfalls should take care as some people have died while visiting these waterfalls.

10 Spectacular Waterfalls in New York State Not Named Niagara Falls

10. Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls drop 215 feet

Taughannock Falls is a spectacular 215 foot straight drop waterfall located along Taughannock Creek shortly before the creek drains into Cayuga Lake in Taughannock State Park near the village of Trumansburg about 10 miles north of Ithaca in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

While Taughannock Falls has far less volume than Niagara Falls does, with a vertical drop of 215 feet Taughannock Falls is actually 33 feet higher than the tallest drop at Niagara Falls. Anyone visiting Toughannock Falls should heed the no swimming signs for the plunge pool below the waterfall as rocks from the cliff face do get dislodged by the flowing water and can dangerously fall into the pool of water below.

9. Chittenango Falls

Chittenango Falls

Chittenango Falls is a multi-tiered 167 foot high waterfall located along Chittenango Creek in Chittenango State Park along Route 13 or Gorge Road between the towns of Chittenango and Cazenovia in central New York State about 15 miles southeast of Syracuse.

The total height of Chittanango Falls, 167 feet, is about the same height of Niagara Falls at its tallest but the water flow here is much less but this is still an impressive waterfall. Chittenango Falls is a beautiful waterfall with very easy access trails and walkways so visitors can see both the top and bottom of the falls which is located not too far from the parking area.

8. Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls picturesquely flows rather than drops roughly 100 feet over a roughly 50 foot sloping cliff face. Hence the name, as the water here flows over the sloping cliff face looking like buttermilk along the appropriately named Buttermilk Creek.

This is a very popular waterfall in New York State that is located in Buttermilk Falls State Park off Route 13 S just a few miles south of the city of Ithaca. Up above Buttermilk Falls along Buttermilk Creek there are numerous smaller waterfalls that are also pretty to see especially in the fall when the leaves change color. Buttermilk Falls is a very popular waterfall because it's located so close to Ithaca and also because swimming is allowed in the large pool area below the waterfall.

7. Plotter Kill Falls

Plotter Kills Falls

Located along the tributary of the Mohawk River called the Plotter Kill are three pretty impressive waterfalls that each drop over rough cliff face ledges. The Upper Falls of the Plotter Kill is 60 feet high and is the tallest of the three waterfalls. Both the Lower Falls of the Plotter Kill and the Rynex Creek Falls are 40 feet high. The Upper and Lower Falls are located along the Plotter Kill just above Rynex Creek while the Rynex Creek Falls is located at the junction of the Plotter Kill and Rynex Creek.

Plotter Kills Falls Winter

All three waterfalls are in the Plotter Kill Nature Preserve which is located just to the west of the Mohawk River a few miles north of Schenectady, New York along Route 159 in Rotterdam, New York. The Plotter Kill drops over 900 total feet in the nature preserve through the Plotter Kill Gorge, which was carved out by melting waters some 10,000 years ago at the end of the ice ages, before the tributary drains into the Mohawk River.

Anybody who visits the three waterfalls in the Plotter Kill Nature Preserve should be advised that the terrain here is rough and the ledges are very steep and visitors should remain on the marked trails at all times.

6. Robert H. Treman Park Waterfalls including Lucifer Falls

Located along Enfield Creek in Enfield Gorge in Robert H. Treman State Park a few miles southwest of Ithaca are a number of beautiful waterfalls. The most spectacular waterfall in the park is probably Lucifer Falls (pictured below) which drops 115 feet.

There is another named waterfall called Lower Falls which drops 30 feet and many more smaller waterfalls along the 4.5 mile round-trip park trail through Enfield Gorge. The park is named for businessman Robert H. Treman who was a Cornell trustee for 45 years and director of the New York Federal Reserve from 1913 to 1931, who donated the land for the park to New York State in 1920.

Lucifer Falls

5. High Falls of the Genesee River

High Falls of the Genesee River

The High Falls of the Genesee River also known as the Upper Falls or the Rochester High Falls is a spectacular 100 foot high waterfall located right in the city of Rochester in Upstate New York. The High Falls beautifully plunge straight over a roughly 200 foot long cliff face and the falls can easily be viewed from the Pont De Rennes walking bridge in Rochester. The High Falls are lit up at night and sometimes the city has laser light shows and fireworks at this spectacular urban waterfall.

High Falls Genesee River at Night

On November 13, 1829, America's first daredevil Sam Patch died jumping over the High Falls. Sam Patch had previously jumped over Niagara Falls in October of 1829 and he had also survived a leap over the High Falls one week prior to his second unsuccessful leap.

When Sam Patch made his unfortunate leap he disappeared below the waters of the Genessee River and was not seen again until a farm hand found his corpse four months later in early spring frozen in the ice in the river well downstream from the High Falls.

4. Watkins Glen Waterfalls

Watkins Glen is a 300 to 400 foot deep narrow two mile long gorge located in Watkins Glen State Park in the town of Watkins Glen at the southern end of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region that contains a total of 19 spectacular and beautiful waterfalls.

While none of the waterfalls in Watkins Glen are huge they are still incredibly impressive to view and there is a very well laid out two-mile long trail through the gorge that takes travelers next to, around and in some cases behind the 19 waterfalls along with numerous plunge pools and potholes. Especially impressive are the waterfalls around Rainbow Bridge, the 60 foot Cavern Cascade and the Central Cascade which flows right beneath an arched bridge.

People have been coming to Watkins Glen for a long time to see the waterfalls here. In 1863, the Watkins Glen Gorge, called Freer's Glen at the time, was opened to the public as a tourist attraction and some 10,000 people visited the park that year. In 1906, the state of New York purchased Watkins Glen and turned it into a public park. A lot of the trail system and arched stone bridges in Watkins Glen State Park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

3. Middle Falls of Letchworth

Grand Canyon of the East

Located along the Genesee River in the Grand Canyon of the East in Letchworth State Park about 30 miles south of Rochester and 40 miles east of Buffalo as the crow flies is the spectacular Middle Falls of Letchworth. This 107 foot high waterfall majestically plunges down between the 400 foot high canyon walls in Letchworth State Park. This waterfall is so beautiful that they light it up at night just like they do at Niagara Falls.

There are two other large waterfalls also located in the Grand Canyon of the East in Letchworth State Park. The Upper Falls drops 71 feet across roughly 70 feet of cliff face in a spectacular curved or angled fashion just upstream from the Middle Falls. Anyone going to see the Middle Falls might as well travel just upstream to see the Upper Falls. The Lower Falls of Letchworth are located about two miles downstream from the other two waterfalls. The Lower Falls are about 50 feet high and they flow magnificently over roughly 150 feet of cliff face.

2. Kaaterskill Falls

Kaaterskill Falls

Located along Spruce Creek between the hamlets of Haines Falls and Palenville in the eastern Catskill Mountains a few miles east of Hunter Mountain ski area is the incredibly beautiful two-tiered waterfall called Kaaterskill Falls. Counting both drops of the waterfall, Kaaterskill Falls is 260 feet high which the USGS says is the highest waterfall in New York State.

Mentioned in Washington Irving's novel Rip Van Winkle, Kaaterskill Falls was also famously painted by Hudson River School artists like Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church. Anyone visiting Kaaterskill Falls should be aware that people have died at this beautiful natural wonder, mainly by falling off the cliff faces. Please heed all warning signs if you visit here and wear appropriate footwear for walking along the steep trails.

1. Cohoes Falls

Cohoes Falls

Cohoes Falls is a 90 foot high 1,000 foot long waterfall located along the Mohawk River between the cities of Cohoes and Waterford just before the Mohawk River empties into the Hudson River about 10 miles north of Albany. Celebrated Irish poet Thomas Moore visited Cohoes Falls in 1804 and wrote a lyric poem celebrating the falls called "Lines Written at the Cohos, or Falls of the Mohawk River".

Long considered the second greatest waterfall in New York after Niagara Falls, today Cohoes Falls can usually only be seen at its full strength during the spring runoff because much of the water that would go over the falls is diverted for hydroelectricity.

Cohoes Falls in Winter

The New York district of the United States Geological Survey maintains a live webcam that overlooks Cohoes Falls so anyone can see how much water is flowing over the falls on a daily basis. Even when the water flow is low, Cohoes Falls remains a very interesting and spectacular place to view as the large shale rock cliffs the water usually flows over are exposed.

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Joe Dorish
Joe Dorish
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Joe Dorish

Joe Dorish is a native New Yorker who has traveled to all 50 states and beyond.

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