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24 Waterfalls In The NY Finger Lakes You Need To See

24 Waterfalls In The NY Finger Lakes You Need To See

The Finger Lakes region of upstate New York is well known for its popular wineries and rolling hills, but it’s also filled with hundreds of beautiful waterfalls. Some of these falls can be easily visited, while others require a hike via the famous gorge trails in the area.

In this guide, we’ll show you where to find the best waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region of New York state including tips on how to make the most of your visit.

Our NY Finger Lakes Experience

Two people at Stony Brook state park in front of a large Finger Lakes waterfall
Mark and Kristen at a waterfall in the Finger Lakes

Kristen is a Finger Lakes native and has visited the waterfalls on this list numerous times throughout the years in all different seasons. We also temporarily lived in the area when Mark first immigrated to the US in 2019 and visiting these waterfalls was how we spent our time during the pandemic.

Most of the waterfall photos in this guide were taken by us with the exception of a few at the end because we had not purchased our Sony Cameras when we originally visited. While we no longer live here, we return to the region every year to visit family. We’ll continually update this guide so click the heart at the bottom so you can easily return to it in the future. Read more about us.

About This Guide

We might be a bit biased, but the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York is a hidden gem many people don’t know about. Between wineries, outdoor activities, hiking and museums, there is truly something for everyone here.

These waterfalls are unique because you can visit numerous falls in just a few hours if you plan well. Since we know the area like the back of our hand, we’ve also included food and hotel recommendations for each waterfall to help make your trip even better.

In order to make this guide easy to follow, we’ve broken it up into 2 main sections:

  • Waterfalls near Rochester
  • Waterfalls near Ithaca

READ: Best places to visit in the NY Finger Lakes

Waterfalls Near Rochester, NY

While many of the waterfalls on this list can be found in state parks and beautiful natural settings, a few of these finger lake falls can be found in city centers. The city of Rochester is the third largest metropolitan area in New York state.

It’s considered a gateway to the Finger Lakes region and it’s located on the southern shores of Lake Ontario. To find some of the other waterfalls in this region, you’ll have to drive south of Rochester, but the good news is there is a cluster of waterfalls so you will be able to see a few with just one drive.

So without further ado, let’s explore the waterfalls near Rochester, NY!

1. High Falls

Genesee River with High Falls in Rochester NY
High Falls along the Genesee River in Rochester
  • Waterfall height: 96 ft (29m)
  • Waterfall crest: ~200 ft (61m)
  • Waterway: Genesee River
  • Location: Downtown Rochester

Located in the city center, High Falls is a 96 foot waterfall located within one of Rochester’s first industrial areas along the Genesee River. Today, the single drop plunging water is harnessed as hydroelectric power. There are two smaller waterfalls about half a mile downstream, but High Falls is the most impressive.

Our photo above was taken from the observation platform which we think offers the best view of the waterfall. You can visit any time of the day, but we like sunset because the sun lowers directly behind Kodak Tower with High Falls as the foreground.

The best place to park is the small lot at High Falls Terrace Park or in the Genesee Brewery parking lot. We like the first floor patio at Genesee Brewery because it looks over High Falls for a different perspective. However, if you park at the brewery, please make sure you order something during your visit.

Hotels near High Falls in Rochester, NY:

Where to eat:

Travel Tip: Similar to Niagara Falls, High Falls is illuminated with different colors at night.

 

2. Middle Falls At Letchworth

Letchworth State Park Middle Falls in autumn one of the best Finger Lakes waterfalls
Gorgeous Middle Falls at Letchworth framed by vegetation
  • Waterfall height: 107 ft (33m)
  • Waterfall crest: 250-300 ft (76-91m)
  • Waterway: Genesee River
  • Location: Letchworth state park
  • Distance from Rochester: About 60 miles

Often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth’s deep gorge is flanked by towering rock cliffs as high as 600 feet. This topography was created over thousands of years by the raging Genesee River as it rapidly flows towards Rochester and eventually Lake Ontario.

There are three main waterfalls at Letchworth state park, but the tallest, widest and most powerful is Middle Falls. We like this waterfall because there are multiple viewpoints so you can choose the perspective you like the most.

Our favorite viewpoint is Inspiration Point because this vista is far enough back to open up the landscape which includes the Genesee River as well as Upper Falls complimented by its 200 ft high bridge. Another great spot is the Middle Falls Lookout but be careful because you might get soaked by water vapor.

3. Lower Falls At Letchworth

Lower Falls surrounded by fall foliage at Letchworth
Lower Falls during the spring season

Another popular waterfall at Letchworth state park, Lower Falls is the smallest and least visited but arguably the most picturesque in the area. To visit this waterfall, you’ll have to cross a beautiful ornate stone bridge and follow a path hugging the cliffside until you reach an observation area.

Travel Tip: Be sure to turn around to look up the gorge at Lower Falls behind the bridge for a wonderful view.

4. Upper Falls At Letchworth

Upper Falls at Letchworth with the picturesque railroad bridge
Upper Falls with the railroad bridge

Rounding off the Letchworth waterfall trifecta is narrow horseshoe shaped Upper Falls. Due to its shape, Upper Falls typically creates a billowing cloud of water vapor that slightly obscures the left portion of the falls as you look at it. The bridge forms the perfect frame behind the waterfall and if you time it just right, you might see a freight train crossing.

Travel Tip: You can hike along the Gorge trail to Inspiration point but you can also park just 50 meters away, take a deck chair and watch the sunset just to the right of Middle Falls.

Hotels near Letchworth:

Where to eat:

READ: How to visit Letchworth state park

5. Lower Falls At Stony Brook

Lower Falls of Stony Brook state park with a stone staircase and purple flowers
Perspective shot with Lower Falls and purple flowers at Stony Brook
  • Waterfall height: 40 ft (12m)
  • Waterfall crest: 70 ft (21m)
  • Waterway: Canaseraga Creek
  • Location: Stony Brook state park
  • Distance from Rochester: About 50 miles

Stony Brook is one of the smallest New York state parks, but with 2 large waterfalls and several smaller ones, we had to include this park on our best Finger Lakes waterfalls list.

You can find Stony Brook in Dansville, NY which is about 50 miles south of Rochester. One of the most popular things to do at the park is walk the Gorge Trail where you’ll find Lower Falls. If you walk the Gorge Trail beginning at the north entrance, you’ll arrive at Lower Falls about 0.4 miles along the trail. This small waterfall is about 40 ft in height and it’s a picturesque sparkling cascade.

We like lower falls because it’s a very steep waterfall with an impressive drop. There is no swimming in the creek, but you can swim in the natural fed pool during the summer.

READ: Guide to visiting Stony Brook state park

6. Middle Falls At Stony Brook

Side view of cascading Middle Falls at Stony Brook
Side profile of Middle Falls at Stony Brook

Middle falls is the shortest waterfall in Stony Brook about 20 ft in height. We like Middle Falls because it’s often the widest one in the park. The water runs in beautiful gradual steps and its extremely photogenic.

If you visit in fall, this waterfall blends in perfectly with the fall foliage to create a stunning frame. Be sure to take a few photos from the side of Middle Falls for a great profile.

Travel Tip: If you’re visiting Letchworth, you could also visit Stony Brook in the same trip because these state parks are only about 20 miles away from each other.

7. Grimes Glen

A hiker standing by a Grimes Glen Waterfall in the Finger Lakes region of New York state
Mark exploring the Grimes Glen waterfall
  • Waterfall height: 60 ft (18m)
  • Waterfall crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Grimes Creek
  • Location: Grimes Glen Park
  • Distance from Rochester: About 45 miles

Grimes Glen is a long deep gorge near the village of Naples which joins with Naples Creek, the southern inlet to Canandaigua Lake. There are two main falls at Grimes Glen, but the waterfall in our photo is the highlight of this area where the hiking trail terminates at a small pool. Look for the tiny cave known as the Devil’s Bedroom right next to base of the falls.

Hiking Tip: The hiking trails at Grimes Glen will require you to hike through part of the creek and sections of the trail can be extremely muddy. We recommend you wear sturdy hiking boots for this short trail.

Hotels near Grimes Glen:

Where to eat:

READ: Visiting Grimes Glen Park near Naples

Waterfalls Near Ithaca, NY

The town of Ithaca is located at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake. This is a lively college town with plenty of charm featuring both Cornell University and Ithaca College. The Ithaca Commons is a pedestrian only mall located in downtown brimming with restaurants and shopping.

You can even find a few Ithaca waterfalls located right in the heart of downtown. So if you want to explore many Finger Lakes waterfalls, Ithaca would be a good place to base yourself for a few days of waterfall chasing.

Without further ado, here are the best waterfalls in Ithaca:

READ: Best things to do in Ithaca

8. Ithaca Falls

Ithaca Falls with lush green foliage in summer
Early fall at Ithaca Falls
  • Waterfall height: 150 ft (46m)
  • Waterfall crest: 175 ft (53m)
  • Waterway: Fall Creek
  • Location: Downtown Ithaca
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 1 mile

Ithaca Falls is positioned completely unexpectedly in downtown and it’s one of the surprise packages when it comes to Finger Lakes waterfalls. Surrounded by Cornell University student housing districts, Ithaca Falls is the must visit found along Fall Creek.

Reaching Ithaca Falls requires a very short and easy walk alongside a rocky river bed but the area is small and often jam packed full of tourists or families of students. You can also visit Rocky Falls, Forest Falls and Triphammer Falls if you follow Fall Creek as it cuts through Cornell University campus.

Travel Tip: There is a small graveled parking lot right opposite the trail entrance with free parking. Its no more than 0.2 miles to reach Ithaca Falls from the parking lot.

Hotels in Downtown Ithaca:

Where to eat:

READ: How to visit Ithaca Falls

9. Cascadilla Falls

Two hikers posing for a photo in front of Cascadilla Gorge, a popular Finger Lakes waterfall
Mark and Kristen at Cascadilla Falls located within Cascadilla Gorge
  • Waterfall height: Two drops over 30ft (9m)
  • Waterfall crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Cascadilla Creek
  • Location: Cascadilla Gorge
  • Distance from Ithaca: 0.5 miles from downtown

Another waterfall located in downtown Ithaca, Cascadilla Falls is found deep within the Cascadilla Gorge. It’s a high trafficked route connecting Cornell University to Collegetown. We like the Cascadilla Gorge because it’s a hidden oasis from the busy city as its transports you into another world filled with serenity and waterfalls.

As you hike through the gorge, you’ll pass about 10 waterfalls in varying size. Cascadilla Gorge is nicknamed the staircase in reference to both the beautiful cascading waterfalls and the climb back up the stairs to campus.

READ: Hiking the Cascadilla Gorge Trail

10. Wells Falls

Woman standing on a log in front of Wells Falls near Ithaca
Kristen standing on a log in front of Wells Falls
  • Waterfall height: 65ft (20m)
  • Waterfall crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Six Mile Creek
  • Location: Near downtown Ithaca
  • Distance from Ithaca: 1.5 miles from downtown

Wells Falls is unique because the 65ft waterfall sprawls out into four beautiful sections creating a stunning tiered spectacle. We like Wells Falls because it offers a different view compared to other waterfalls in the NY Finger Lakes and it has been reclaimed by nature because it sits directly next to the abandoned Van Natta Pumping Station.

This waterfall is also easy to visit because after a short 10 minute walk, you’ll find yourself at the base of the falls. Another name for Wells Falls is Businessman’s Lunch Falls because many locals enjoy lunch in this very spot.

11. Lucifer Falls

Lucifer Falls running low at Robert H. Treman State Park
Lucifer Falls at Robert H. Treman State Park
  • Waterfall height: 115 ft (35m)
  • Waterfall crest: 25-30 ft (8-9m)
  • Waterway: Enfield Creek
  • Location: Robert H. Treman state park
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 8 miles from downtown

Robert H. Treman state park in Ithaca, NY is the perfect day out for hiking in the Finger Lakes region. There are two main waterfalls including Lucifer Falls and Lower Falls. This park features rugged gorges, dramatic scenery and natural beauty around every corner.

Lucifer Falls is an incredibly attractive cascading waterfall flowing out of a gorge and plummets 115 ft over multiple tiers of rock into Enfield Creek. The highlight is the dramatic gorge opening up into the Creek along with a fairytale-like stone path hugging tightly to the cliff edge.

Here are the two different viewpoints you should look for:

  • Rim Trail – This is quintessential view as seen in our photograph above
  • Gorge Trail – This option brings you to within 10 meters of the Lucifer Falls upper section

READ: Visiting Robert H. Treman State Park

12. Lower Falls At Robert H. Treman

Natural Swimming hole at Robert H. Treman
Visitors enjoying the natural swimming area

Lower Falls is located a few miles downstream of Lucifer Falls at Robert H Treman state park. It’s worth hiking the fantastic 2.25 mile Gorge Trail from top to bottom. We like Enfield Creek because it narrows into a tunnel-like ravine as it nears the end of its flow and plunges 30 ft into the designated swimming area which is popular with families in the summertime.

Hiking Tip: Park at the upper entrance for much shorter hiking distances to Lucifer Falls from both Rim overlook and Gorge viewpoint (around 0.5 miles).

13. Buttermilk Falls

Small waterfall plunging into a shallow pool at Buttermilk Falls State Park
Small cascading waterfall along the Buttermilk Falls Gorge
  • Waterfall height: 165 ft (50m)
  • Waterfall crest: 45 ft (14m)
  • Waterway: Buttermilk Creek
  • Location: Buttermilk Falls state park
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 2.5 miles from downtown

Buttermilk Falls state park is one of the most popular parks around Ithaca thanks to a short but exceptionally scenic Gorge Trail. This hike features pothole pools and dozens of small waterfalls dropping from less than 1 meter.

Right at the entrance, the 165 ft high creamy frothing waterfall, which happens to look like buttermilk slips, slides and glides down an angled slab of rock into a swimming pool. The most striking feature of Buttermilk Falls is how the water seemingly bursts out of a dense tree lined hillside, much like an enormous waterslide.

We visited Buttermilk Falls at the end of a summer drought. The water was so low that Buttermilk Falls was almost dried up so instead we have included a photo of the small waterfalls along the Gorge Trail.

READ: Complete guide to visiting Buttermilk Falls state park

14. Taughannock Falls

Two people looking down at Taughannock Falls from the popular Overlook
Mark and Kristen at the picturesque overlook featuring Taughannock Falls
  • Waterfall height: 215 ft (66m)
  • Waterfall crest: 30-40 ft (9-12m)
  • Waterway: Taughannock Creek
  • Location: Taughannock Falls state park
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 10 miles

Taughannock Falls is one of the most visually impressive waterfalls in New York and it’s the tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. The spectacular single drop plunge waterfall plummets 215ft into a deep bowl-like depression in the Earth and can be viewed from the bottom of the drop zone or from an incredible viewpoint hundreds of feet away.

You can walk along a 1.5 mile round trip flat gorge trail to reach the base of Taughannock Falls, which in spring and early summer will be crashing over the ledge above.

Hotels near Taughannock Falls:

Where To eat:

READ: Guide to Taughannock Falls state park

15. Rainbow Falls

Small pools and waterfalls along the Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail
Cascading waterfalls and pools at Watkins Glen state park
  • Waterfall height: 101 ft (31m)
  • Waterfall crest: 20 ft (6m)
  • Waterway: Glen Creek
  • Location: Watkins Glen state park
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 25 miles

Although Watkins Glen state park Gorge Trail boasts 19 waterfalls, none compare to the spellbinding scene at Rainbow Falls. We’re talking front cover of nature magazine imagery here. Rainbow Falls features a wafer thin but wide sheet of water plunging from the ledge while meeting a triple cascade in smooth plunge pools below.

We love Rainbow Falls because you can walk underneath as you hike the very popular Gorge Trail. Prepare to be awe-struck but also expect large crowds. Rainbow Falls is roughly 1 mile into the gorge trail from the main entrance. The total Gorge and Indian Trail loop is around 3 miles and contains 800 steps.

READ: How to visit Watkins Glen state park

Hotels near Watkins Glen:

READ: 8 best hotels in Watkins Glen New York

Where to eat:

READ: Best things to do in the village of Watkins Glen

16. Eagle Cliff Falls

Eagles Cliff Falls in Havana Glen Park
Eagle Cliff Falls in early fall
  • Waterfall height: 41 ft (13m)
  • Waterfall crest: 16 ft (5m)
  • Waterway: McClure Creek
  • Location: Havana Glen Park
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 25 miles

This next Finger Lake waterfall can be found in Havana Glen Park which is nearby Watkins Glen in the village of Montour Falls. The park costs $2.00 to enter and the trail to reach the falls is very short mimicking topography similar to other gorge trails on this list.

We like Eagle Cliff Falls because you can visit relatively easy and the park has numerous ball fields as well as playgrounds. Eagle Cliff is impressive because it carves a natural amphitheater around the falls.

17. Shequaga Falls

She-Qua-Ga Falls, a larger finger lakes waterfall in the town of Montour
A very dry Shequaga Falls in the fall season
  • Waterfall height: 165 ft (50m)
  • Waterfall crest: ~20 ft (6m)
  • Waterway: Shequaga Creek
  • Location: Village of Moutour
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 25 miles

Another waterfall in the village of Montour Falls, Shequaga Falls can easily be seen as you drive into town. Just look for cars and people congregating as a clue on where to go.

This large cascading waterfall passes under the Mill Street Bridge and then empties into a large basin near the small park at the base. We like this waterfall because there is no hike required. Once you reach the small park, you only have to walk a short distance on a paved path to the base of the waterfall.

As you can see from our photo, we visited at the end of summer when Shequaga Falls was only a trickle. You can expect a much larger flow in the spring and beginning of summer.

18. Aunt Sarah’s Falls

Aunt Sarah's Falls in autumn with no water
Aunt Sarah’s Falls running extremely dry
  • Waterfall height: 90 (27m)
  • Waterfall crest: ~20 ft (6m)
  • Waterway: Shequaga Creek
  • Location: Village of Moutour
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 26 miles

It’s easy to miss Aunt Sarah’s Falls because this waterfall is located along route 14 which is a 55 mile per hour road. Aunt Sarah’s Falls is the unofficial border for the village of Montour and you can read about the history on a small sign located near the base of the falls.

Aunt Sarah’s Falls is always a lightly flowing waterfall, but when we visited in fall, the water flow was miniscule. Look for a small parking lot on the side of the road and please be extremely careful when visiting because there is fast moving traffic.

19. Deckertown Falls

Deckertown Falls in the fall season
The powerful Deckertown Falls near the town of Montour
  • Waterfall height: 165 ft (50m)
  • Waterfall crest: ~20 ft (6m)
  • Waterway: Catlin Mill Creek
  • Location: Village of Montour
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 25 miles

Deckertown Falls is a lesser known waterfall in Montour, but it sits opposite to Shequaga Falls and can be found nestled within Catlin Mill Creek. This waterfall usually consists of two main waterfall drops that can be easily seen from the short trail leading directly from the parking lot.

Expect the first longer cascade of Deckertown Falls to meet a smaller cascade before they flow together into a very deep pool at the base. We like visiting in the autumn season because the area is lined with fall foliage further highlighting the beauty of this Finger Lake waterfall.

20. Hector Falls

The popular finger lakes waterfall on Seneca Lake, Hector Falls
The upper portion of Hector Falls on along Seneca Lake
  • Waterfall Height: 165ft (50m)
  • Waterfall Crest: 25ft (8m)
  • Waterway: Hector Falls Creek
  • Location: Southern side of Seneca Lake
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 18 miles

Hector Falls is a gorgeous waterfall on Seneca Lake that can be seen from the side of the road on Route 414, but the lower portion of the falls are located on private property. If you want to see the entire cascade of Hector Falls, you could take a boat tour of Seneca Lake. Captain Bill’s runs both hourly and nightly dinner cruises.

Unless you’re looking for Hector Falls, you won’t see this Finger Lake waterfall while driving until it is too late to stop. We like Hector Falls because this massive cascade is out in the open for everyone to see. There is no hiking involved and it’s rare you get to see this large of a waterfall without much work.

You can view Hector Falls from both the roadside, by hiking down under the bridge to the left or walking to the creek bed. The area around the waterfall can be crowded so keep an eye out for both oncoming traffic and other visitors.

READ: Best waterfalls in New York state

21. Glenora Falls

Glenora Falls in upstate New York
Glenora Falls located in Dundee, NY
  • Waterfall height: 100ft (31m)
  • Waterfall crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Big Stream
  • Location: South west side of Seneca Lake
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 34 miles

This Finger Lakes waterfall is a bit different from the other falls on this list because it’s located on private property in Dundee, NY. We included it on our list because it’s stunning, but please be respectful of the current owners if you try to visit this waterfall.

Do not go onto their property unless invited. If you want to get up close and personal with Glenora Falls, you should consider staying a night at the Estate at Glenora Falls.

22. Seneca Mills Falls

Seneca Mills Falls one of the best finger lakes waterfalls
Seneca Mills Falls near the Keuka Lake Outlet
  • Waterfall height: 40ft (12m)
  • Waterfall crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Keuka Lake Outlet
  • Location: Keuka Lake Outlet Trail
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 50 miles

The Keuka Lake Outlet is natural waterway that helps to drain water from Keuka Lake into Seneca Lake. You can hike the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail which is about 8 miles and drops 280 ft (85m) in elevation.

We love this hiking trail because it runs through one of the old locks from the Crooked Lake Canal. Seneca Mills Falls is the most popular attraction in this area because it features a beautiful three tiered cascading waterfall that flows into a deep pool at the base.

If you want to visit more waterfalls in the area, you can also visit Cascade Mills Falls, but this waterfall is about half the size of Seneca Mills Falls.

23. Cowshed Falls

Three tiered Cowshed Falls in Fillmore Glen State Park
The three tiered Cowshed Falls
  • Waterfall height: 5-40ft (2-12m)
  • Waterfall crest: 10ft
  • Waterway: Fillmore Creek
  • Location: Fillmore Glen state park
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 24 miles

Cowshed Falls is another beautiful waterfall tucked away in the gorge of Fillmore Glen state park. Similar to Watkins Glen, Treman and Buttermilk, this park has a natural gorge. The biggest waterfall in the park is Cowshed Falls which is located within a secluded section of the gorge.

We like Fillmore Glen because it’s a lesser known area and it doesn’t get as busy as some of the other state parks in the area so it’s a great place to escape the summer crowds.

24. Carpenter Falls

Carpenter Falls in summer near Skaneateles Lake
Carpenter Falls near Skaneateles Lake
  • Waterfall height: 90ft (27m)
  • Waterfall crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Bear Swamp Creek
  • Location: Town of Niles
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 32 miles

You’ll find Carpenter Falls hidden away at the southwest end of Skaneateles Lake nestled within the Skaneateles Highlands. This is a popular waterfall thanks to a newly implemented boardwalk.

We like Carpenter Falls because it’s a massive plunge waterfall with a spectacular view. The more adventurous hikers can also take the steep gorge trail to get closer to this waterfall.

READ: Amazing quotes about waterfalls

Photography Tips

Man standing with a tripod of take a photograph of a finger lakes waterfall
Mark taking a photo of a small waterfalls in upstate New York

Waterfalls are one of our favorite types of photography because you can really change how an image looks using a camera. Here are a few tips for your visit:

  • Use a mirrorless or DSLR camera and lens with focal length to suit the scene. Personally, we love Sony mirrorless cameras, but every photographer will have their preference.
  • When shooting close up views like Rainbow Falls or underneath Taughannock Falls, use a wide angle (12-35mm). While Middle Falls from Inspiration Point at Letchworth would be better at 50-80mm.
  • Shoot 0.3 second to 3 second exposures using shutter speed priority mode with ISO as low as possible (100). Start at 1 second and then at faster or slower shutter speed until you’re happy with how the water looks.
  • You’ll need a tripod for stability so you can capture the silky waterfall effect. A tripod will allow you shoot long exposures with a clear image. If you don’t use a tripod, your long exposures will be blurry.
  • Alternatively, use a fast shutter speed like 1/1000th to freeze water droplets as they fall. You can then hand-hold without tripod or blur.
  • If you’re just starting out, shoot in RAW & JPEG. You can use your jpeg now but once you have more experience you will be grateful for the RAW file you can go back to and edit in post.
  • Visit early in the day before intense daylight but if its bright, use an ND filter to stop down the light or CPL filter to dim any glare.
  • Check for spray on your lens regularly and clean it off regulary.

READ: Photography travel guides

Finger Lakes Interactive Map

Use our Finger Lakes interactive map to find all the waterfalls we mentioned in this guide. Zoom in and out to familiarize yourself with the area before your trip and look for our restaurant or hotel recommendations.

  • Light Red – Finger Lakes waterfalls
  • Blue – Hotel recommendations
  • Maroon – Restaurant recommendations

You can also access our NY Finger Lakes waterfalls map via this link here.

Best Time To Visit

Fall foliage in the New York finger lakes region
Vibrant orange and yellow leaves in the Finger Lakes during fall season

Spring and fall are the two best times of the year to visit waterfalls in the Finger Lakes. However, all four seasons offer something completely different and it depends on what you want to see. Here are the highlights for each season in the Finger Lakes:

  • Spring – The snow pack melts in upstate New York so the waterfalls will be flowing at their heaviest. This is the best time of year to see waterfalls at their peak.
  • Fall – The waterfalls will be at their lowest, but the entire region comes alive with vibrant fall foliage. The bright reds, yellows and oranges certainly make up enough for the lack of water in the falls.
  • Summer – This is the busy season in the Finger Lakes with kids out of school and tourism at its peak. Many visitors enjoy water sports and wineries along the lakes so waterfalls and hiking trails are packed.
  • Winter – Snow and ice closes some of the trails required to reach the waterfalls on this list, but a few trails do remain open. We think the waterfalls can be just as striking covered in the snow or completely frozen over, but we wouldn’t recommend winter for a first time visit if you’re not used to the snow.

The Morgan Conclusion

A stone staircase leading to Cascade Cavern at Watkins Glen State Park, home to some of the best New York Finger Lake waterfalls
Cascade Cavern at Watkins Glen state park

There are hundreds of waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region of New York because this area is home to several gorges which are the perfect natural topography for waterfalls. We love this area because you can visit numerous waterfalls in one day so it makes for a great road trip option.

But are the waterfalls in the New York Finger Lakes worth it?

Yes, we think the Finger Lake waterfalls are worth visiting because you can get a lot of bang for your buck. To see a high concentration of waterfalls, you should visit the south end of either Seneca or Cayuga Lake. Additionally, by visiting some of the most popular waterfalls in the region, you’ll also visit some of the most beautiful state parks which we think rival some of the US national parks.

According to us, here are the top five Finger Lake waterfalls:

  • Rainbow Falls – Watkins Glen state park
  • Taughannock Falls – Taughannock Falls state park
  • Ithaca Falls – Downtown Ithaca
  • Lucifer Falls – Robert H. Treman state park
  • Middle Falls – Letchworth state park

However, you can’t go wrong with any of the other waterfalls we included in this guide.

More From The Finger Lakes

More From Upstate New York

Want more New York content? Head over to our New York Travel Guides to explore the Finger Lakes, Adirondacks and the best of NYC.


We hope this guide featuring the best Finger Lakes falls helps you plan your visit to upstate New York!

Please let us know if you have questions about any of these waterfalls or upstate New York in the comment below.

Happy Waterfall Hunting,

Mark and Kristen

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