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20 Best Finger Lakes Waterfalls And Where To Find Them

20 Best Finger Lakes Waterfalls And Where To Find Them

The Finger Lakes region of upstate New York is well known for its popular wineries and natural beauty, but did you know this area of NY is also overflowing with stunning waterfalls?

A visit to the Finger Lakes is not complete without hiking through one of the famous gorge trails and experiencing the beautiful waterfalls this region has to offer.

In order to make this Finger Lakes waterfalls guide easy to follow, we have broken it up into 2 main sections:

  1. Waterfalls Near Rochester, NY
  2. Waterfalls Near Ithaca, NY

Our only goal is to show you where to find the the best waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region of New York State including tips on how to make the most of your visit.

Now, let’s hunt for the best waterfalls in the Finger Lakes!

Our Experience With Finger Lakes Waterfalls

Kristen grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and has visited many of the waterfalls on this list numerous times as a child.

Writing this guide brought back wonderful memories and we hope to pass those experiences on to you when you visit this gorgeous area of New York.

When Mark first moved to the US in 2019, we also lived in the Finger Lakes area. Once the pandemic began a few months later, visiting these NY waterfalls was how we spent a lot of our time.

Man and Woman at Stony Brook State Park
Mark and Kristen at a waterfall in the Finger Lakes

What Can You Expect From This Guide?

While we no longer live in the area, Kristen’s family still lives in upstate New York so we typically return to the Finger Lakes multiple times a year.

We plan to check off even more Finger Lakes Waterfalls every time we come back to visit so Mark can continue to experience these beautiful waterfalls during each season.

Our goal is to create a continuously growing waterfall guide to the Finger Lakes filled with helpful information encouraging others to visit these magnificent waterfalls too.

Since we know the area like the back of our hand, we have also included food and hotel recommendations for each location to help make your trip even better.

Bookmark or save this guide so you can return to it in the future to see the stunning waterfalls of the Finger Lakes region in New York State!

Heading to the Finger Lakes? Don’t miss our popular guide featuring the best places to visit and fun things to do in the NY Finger Lakes.

Why Are There Waterfalls In The Finger Lakes?

The Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is home to a set of eleven popular lakes forming a triangle between the cities of Rochester, Syracuse and the Ithaca / Elmira-Corning area.

More than 2 million years ago, large sheets of ice pushed through the area carving the deep U-shaped valleys we now see today.

When these massive glaciers retreated, the ice left deposits that damned streams and ultimately caused depressions which then formed the famous Finger Lakes.

The result from the glaciers advancing and then retreating resulted in breathtaking topography filled with gorges as well as waterfalls you won’t find anywhere else.

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

Best Time To Visit The Finger Lakes Waterfalls

Spring and fall are the two best times of the year to visit waterfalls in the Finger Lakes.

In spring, the snow pack will be melting from the rolling hills of upstate NY and the waterfalls will be flowing at their heaviest. Spring is the best time of year to see Finger Lakes waterfalls at their fullest.

In fall, the waterfalls will not be flowing as well, but the Finger Lakes 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.

The summer is an extremely busy time 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.

The winter brings lots of snow and ice which closes the hiking trails required to reach several of the waterfalls on this list, but a few waterfalls do remain open.

Finger lakes waterfalls can be just as striking in winter as the surrounding terrain is covered in snow and the falls have completely frozen over.

We have visited these Finger Lake falls in all four seasons so the best time to visit just really depends on what you want to experience at each waterfall.


Waterfalls Near Rochester, New York

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 is considered a gateway to the Finger Lakes region as it’s located on the southern shores of Lake Ontario.

To find some of the other waterfalls in this region, you will 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.

1. High Falls – Rochester City Center

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
  • Distance from Rochester: Right in downtown

Rochester’s historical industry was built around the High Falls waterfall and today the single drop plunging water is harnessed as hydroelectric power.

Two smaller waterfalls can be found within a mile and half downstream including middle and lower falls, but they are far less impressive than powerful High Falls.

An observation platform has been provided from which you will get the best view of the waterfall.

You can see High Falls any time of day, but we recommend you plan to visit at sunset because the sun sets directly behind Kodak Tower.

A stunning deep blue and orange sky contrasts beautifully against High Falls which is illuminated green, pink, blue, red and white after dark.

Park in a small parking lot at High Falls Terrace or in the Genesee Brewery parking lot. The observation platform is 100 meters walk away, plus you can go inside the brewery for a quick beer on the way back.

Hotels Near High Falls In Rochester, NY:

Where To Eat Near High Falls In Rochester, NY:

Travel Tip: Genesee Brewery has a first floor patio looking over High Falls for a different perspective of the waterfall.

2. Middle Falls – Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park Middle Falls in autumn
Gorgeous Middle Falls at Letchworth framed by vegetation
  • Waterfall Height: 107 ft (33m)
  • Waterfall Crest: 250-300 ft (76-91m)
  • Waterway: Genesee River
  • 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 600ft through which the Genesee River flows towards Rochester and eventually Lake Ontario.

The tallest, widest and most powerful of the three Letchworth waterfalls is Middle Falls. There are several viewpoints so you can choose the perspective you like most.

Our personal 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.

The chances of being soaked by water vapor are very high at this Finger Lakes waterfall!

Lower Falls At Letchworth State Park

Lower Falls surrounded by fall foliage at Letchworth
Lower Falls at Letchworth State Park

This waterfall at Letchworth State Park is the smallest and least visited but arguably the most picturesque as well as quaint waterfall in the area.

If you visit Lower Falls, you should cross the beautifully ornate stone bridge and follow a path hugging the cliffside until you reach an observation area.

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

Upper Falls At Letchworth State Park

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

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 State Park:

Where To Eat Near Letchworth State Park:

Heading to Letchworth? Don’t miss our detailed guide to Letchworth State Park including where to find each waterfall and best things to do in the park.

3. Lower Falls – Stony Brook State Park

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
  • Distance from Rochester: About 50 miles

Stony Brook State Park is one of the smallest New York State parks, but with 3 large waterfalls and several smaller falls, we had to include this park on our best Finger Lakes waterfalls list.

You can find Stony Brook State Park in Dansville, NY which is about 50 miles south of Rochester. One of the most popular things to do at Stony Brook is walk the Gorge Trail where you will find Lower Falls.

If you walk the Gorge Trail beginning at the north entrance, you will 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 its 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.

Heading to Stony Brook? Use our complete guide to visiting Stony Brook State Park to help you plan your trip.

Middle Falls Stony Brook

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

Middle falls is the shortest of the main falls in Stony Brook at about 20 ft. But we like middle falls because despite being the shortest falls, this waterfall is often the widest.

The water from middle falls 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 of this gorgeous waterfall.

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

4. Grimes Glen – Naples, NY

Man standing by Grimes Glen Waterfall
Mark exploring the Grimes Glen waterfall
  • Waterfall Height: 60 ft (18m)
  • Waterfall Crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Grimes Creek
  • 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 and the waterfall in our photo is the highlight of this area where the hiking trail terminates at a small plunge pool.

Be sure to also check out 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 Near Grimes Glen:

Planning to visit Grimes Glen? Don’t miss our detailed guide with everything you need to know for 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.

Ithaca Commons is a pedestrian only mall located in downtown Ithaca brimming with restaurants and shopping. However, you will also find a few Finger Lakes waterfalls located right in the heart of downtown.

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, let’s find the gorgeous Ithaca waterfalls. Use our interactive map at the end of this guide to create an itinerary when you visit the famous Ithaca Falls trail.

Planning to visit Ithaca? Use our guide featuring the best things to do in Ithaca to see all the highlights of the city.

5. Ithaca Falls – Downtown Ithaca

Ithaca Falls with lush green foliage in summer
Ithaca Falls in summer with green foliage
  • Waterfall Height: 150 ft (46m)
  • Waterfall Crest: 175 ft (53m)
  • Waterway: Fall Creek
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 1 mile

One of the surprise packages when it comes to Finger Lakes waterfalls has to be 150 ft high and 175 ft wide Ithaca Falls positioned completely unexpectedly considering it is in a city center.

Surrounded by Cornell University student housing districts, Ithaca Falls is the must visit Finger Lakes waterfall of a half dozen found along Fall Creek.

You can also visit Rocky Falls, Forest Falls and Triphammer Falls if you follow Fall Creek as it cuts through Cornell University campus, which is basically a small town of its own.

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.

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

Hotels In Downtown Ithaca:

Where To Eat Near Ithaca:

Want help finding Ithaca Falls? Use our guide featuring tips on how to visit Ithaca Falls including where to park and best photos spots.

6. Cascadilla Falls – Downtown Ithaca

Two hikers posing for a photo in front of Cascadilla Gorge
Mark and Kristen at Cascadilla Falls located within Cascadilla Gorge
  • Waterfall Height: Two drops over 30ft (9m)
  • Waterfall Crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Cascadilla Creek
  • Distance from Ithaca: 0.5 miles from downtown

You will find the impressive Cascadilla Falls inside the Cascadilla Gorge. This gorge is 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 will pass about 6 waterfalls. It’s stunning to note how these Finger Lakes Falls have carved their mark through the soft shale and sandstone over time.

Cascadilla Gorge is nicknamed the staircase in reference to both the beautiful cascading waterfalls and the climb back up the stairs to campus.

Interested in Cascadilla Gorge? Check out this walkthrough of the Cascadilla Gorge Trail running straight through Cornell’s campus.

7. Wells Falls – Downtown Ithaca

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
  • Distance from Ithaca: 1.5 miles from downtown

We like Wells Falls because it offers a different view compared to other waterfalls in the Finger Lakes as it sits directly next to the abandoned Van Natta Pumping Station.

Wells Falls is unique because the area has been reclaimed by nature making it a popular location. The 65ft waterfall sprawls out into four beautiful sections creating a stunning tiered spectacle.

This waterfall is also quite easy to visit because after a short 10 minute walk, you will find yourself at the base of Wells Falls.

Another name for Wells Falls is Businessman’s Lunch Falls because many locals enjoy lunch in this very spot.

8. Lucifer Falls – Robert H. Treman State Park

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
  • 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. This park features rugged gorges, dramatic scenery and natural beauty around every corner.

The two main waterfalls at Robert H. Treman include Lucifer Falls and Lower Falls. Each of these two waterfalls offer visitors stunning vistas and a natural fed swimming hole.

Lucifer Falls is an incredibly attractive cascade waterfall flowing out of a stunning gorge and plummets 115 ft over multiple tiers of rock into Enfield Creek.

What makes this Finger Lakes fall so attractive is the dramatic gorge opening up into the Creek along with a fairytale-like stone path hugging tightly to the cliff edge.

There are two viewpoints which offer entirely different perspectives of Lucifer Falls.

Rim Trail is the quintessential distant view from which you can absorb the beautiful scene uninterrupted while Gorge Trail brings you to within 10 meters of Lucifer Falls upper section.

Further down the Robert H. Treman State Park 2.25 mile Gorge Trail, you can enter Enfield Creek and wade as close as you dare to the drop zone of Lucifer Falls, as long as the waterfall is lightly flowing.

Heading to Robert H. Treman? Don’t miss our guide featuring everything you need to know when visiting Robert H. Treman State Park.

Lower Falls At Robert H. Treman

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

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 to see the entire creek.

Enfield Creek narrows into a tunnel-like ravine as it nears the end of its flow and plunges 30 ft into the designated swimming area which has become popular with families in the summertime.

Travel Tip: Park at Upper Entrance for much shorter hiking distances to Lucifer Falls from both Rim overlook and Gorge viewpoint (around 0.5 miles).

9. Buttermilk Falls – Buttermilk Falls State Park

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
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 2.5 miles from downtown

Buttermilk Falls State Park is one of the most popular parks around Ithaca, NY thanks to a short but exceptionally scenic Gorge Trail featuring 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 and instead we have included a photo of the small waterfalls along the Gorge Trail.

Heading to Buttermilk Falls? You might like to read our complete guide to visiting Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca, NY.

10. Taughannock Falls – Taughannock Falls State Park

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
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 10 miles

Taughannock Falls is one of the most visually impressive waterfalls in New York, if not the entire United States, although we know it doesn’t look that way in our photo because we visited after a drought.

The spectacular single drop plunge waterfall plummets 215ft into a deep bowl-like depression in the Earth and can be viewed from right at the drop zone or from an incredible viewpoint hundreds of feet away.

You can walk along a flat gorge trail (or even the dry creek bed itself when dry) to reach the base of Taughannock Falls, which in spring and early summer will be crashing over the ledge 215 ft above.

Visit in peak fall season to see this finger lake waterfall surrounded by beautiful Autumnal foliage and take home amazing photographs.

Travel Tip: The 1.5 mile round trip hike to the base of Taughannock Falls is flat, very easy and well worth it.

Hotels Near Taughannock Falls:

Where To Eat Near Taughannock Falls:

Heading to Taughannock Falls? Read our guide on Taughannock Falls State Park featuring the Gorge Trail and waterfall overlook.

11. Rainbow Falls – Watkins Glen State Park

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
  • 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 magazines 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 at Watkins Glen State Park. Prepare to be awe-struck but also expect large crowds.

Travel Tip: Rainbow Falls is roughly 1 mile into Gorge trail from the main entrance. The total Gorge and Indian Trail loop is around 3 miles and contains 800 steps.

Hotels Near Watkins Glen:

Want to stay in Watkins Glen? Read our guide on the 8 best hotels in Watkins Glen New York on our sister site to see the top rated lodging options for your visit.

Where To Eat Near Watkins Glen:

Heading to Watkins Glen NY? Don’t miss our popular guide listing the very best things to do in the village of Watkins Glen.

12. Eagle Cliff Falls – Havana Glen Park

Eagles Cliff Falls in Havana Glen Park
Eagle Cliff Falls inside Havana Glen State Park
  • Waterfall Height: 41 ft (13m)
  • Waterfall Crest: 16 ft (5m)
  • Waterway: McClure Creek
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 25 miles

While this next finger lake waterfall is not found within Watkins Glen State Park, it can be found in Havana Glen Park which is nearby.

You can find the Havana Glen Park less than one mile south of Montour Falls and it costs $2 to enter. The trail to reach the falls is very short and mimics 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 also impressive because it carves a natural amphitheatre around the falls.

13. She-Qua-Ga Falls – Montour, NY

She-Qua-Ga Falls, a larger finger lakes waterfall in the town of Montour
A very dry She-Qua-Ga Falls in the fall season
  • Waterfall Height: 165 ft (50m)
  • Waterfall Crest: ~20 ft (6m)
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 25 miles

She-Qua-Ga Falls is also located in downtown Montour Falls and you can see this waterfall as you drive into town. Look for cars and people congregating as a clue on where to go when visiting this stunning Finger Lakes waterfall.

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 She-Qua-Ga Falls was only a trickle. You can expect a much large flow in the spring and beginning of the summer season.

Travel Tip: If you are visiting nearby Watkins Glen State Park, this waterfall will only take a few minutes to get to so it’s worth the trip if you have time.

14. Aunt Sarah’s Falls – Montour, NY

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
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 26 miles

It can be easy to miss Aunt Sarah’s Falls because it is located along route 14 which is a 55 miles / hour road. Try to look out for the small parking lot so you don’t miss this Finger Lakes waterfall.

Aunt Sarah’s Falls is actually the unofficial border for the Town of Montour and you can read about the history on a small sign located near the base of the falls.

Please be extremely carefully if stopping to visit this roadside Finger Lakes waterfall as the fast moving traffic makes it a bit tricky to navigate.

Aunt Sarah’s Falls is always a lightly flowing waterfall, but when we visited in fall, the water flow was miniscule.

15. Deckertown Falls – Montour, NY

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

Another Finger Lakes waterfall located in the town of Montour, Deckertown Falls is lesser known as it sits opposite to She-Qua-Ga falls, but it can be found nestled within Catlin Mill Creek.

Deckertown Falls 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.

This waterfall is one of our favorites to visit in the autumn season because the area is lined with fall foliage further highlighting the beauty of this finger lake waterfall.

Travel Tip: If you are in the town of Montour, be sure to visit Eagles Creek Falls, She-Qua-Ga Falls, Aunt Sarah’s Falls and Deckertown Falls.

16. Hector Falls – Seneca Lake

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
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 18 miles

Hector Falls is a gorgeous Seneca Lake waterfall that can be seen from the side of the road of Route 414, but the lower portions 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 are 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 pretty much 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 creekbed.

The area around Hector Falls tends to be quite crowded so be sure to keep an eye out for both oncoming traffic and other visitors.

Want more impressive NY waterfalls? Don’t miss our popular guide to the best waterfalls in New York State.

17. Glenora Falls – Seneca Lake

Glenora Falls in upstate New York
Glenora Falls located in Dundee, NY
  • Waterfall Height: 100ft (31m)
  • Waterfall Crest: Varies
  • Waterway:
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 34 miles

This Finger Lakes waterfall is a bit different from the other falls on this list because it is solely 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 this Finger Lakes waterfall, you should consider staying a night at the Estate at Glenora Falls.

18. Seneca Mill Falls – Seneca Lake

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
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 50 miles

Keuka Lake is home to the Keuka Lake Outlet which is natural waterway that helps to drain water from Keuka Lake into Seneca lake. This outlet is about 8 miles and drops 280 ft (85m).

We love the Keuka Lake Outlet because it offers hiking trails and recreational opportunities. History buffs will love how this outlet 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.

19. Cowshed Falls – Fillmore Glen State Park

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
  • 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 smaller park also 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 State Park because it is a lesser known area and it features five finger lake waterfalls as well as a stream fed swimming pool.

Fillmore Glen State Park also doesn’t get as busy as the other nearby NY state parks so this is a great place to escape the crowds in the summer.

20. Carpenter Falls – Niles, NY

Carpenter Falls in summer near Skaneateles Lake
Carpenter Falls near Skaneateles Lake
  • Waterfall Height: 90ft (27m)
  • Waterfall Crest: Varies
  • Waterway: Bear Swamp Creek
  • Distance from Ithaca: About 32 miles

You will find Carpenter Falls hidden away at the southwest end of Skaneateles Lake nestled within the Skaneateles Highlands.

Carpenter Falls was certainly one of the lesser known Finger Lakes waterfalls, but a newly implemented boardwalk makes this waterfall extremely accessible.

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.

If you want to visit other waterfalls in this area, we recommend you take the gorge trail because you can also visit Angel Falls which is a stunning cascade over many gradual ledges.

Want more waterfall inspiration? Don’t miss our guide featuring amazing quotes about waterfalls.

Finger Lake Waterfalls Photography Tips

Man standing with a tripod of take a photograph of a waterfall
Mark taking a photo of a small Finger Lakes waterfall

While smartphones today can easily cut it for social media platforms, in order to take home some truly memorable images, you need a mirrorless or DSLR camera.

Waterfalls are one of our favorite types of photography because you can really change how an image looks using a camera.

  • 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.

A Tripod Is Key For Finger Lake Waterfall Photography

  • You will 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 it is 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.

Interested in photography? You might like our photography travel guides.

Finger Lakes Waterfalls Interactive Map

Click into the interactive map, zoom in or out and move around the area to find all recommended restaurants, hotels and best Finger Lakes waterfalls.

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

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

Which Is Better Watkins Glen Or Letchworth?

Having been to both Letchworth and Watkins Glen many times, we can tell you from experience it depends what you want to see when you visit.

Letchworth State Park covers a much larger area with a very wide gorge. There are three main waterfalls at Letchworth with many other smaller waterfalls spread out through the entire park.

Watkins Glen State Park is a tiny state park in comparison to Letchworth, but the popular Gorge Trail features 19 stunning yet small waterfalls.

If you want to see many unique waterfalls without much hiking, visit Watkins Glen. If you want to see waterfalls while hiking next to a large Gorge, visit Letchworth State Park.

Both parks offer something different and we would recommend you visit both if possible. Watkins and Letchworth are easily two of the best places to visit in the Finger Lakes.

A stone staircase leading to Cascade Cavern at Watkins Glen State Park
Cascade Cavern at Watkins Glen State Park

Which Finger Lake Has The Best Waterfalls?

If you want to get a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to Finger Lakes Waterfalls, you should visit the south end of either Seneca or Cayuga Lake.

The southern tip of Seneca Lake offers Watkins Glen State Park as well as many other waterfalls we have included in this waterfalls of the Finger Lakes guide.

While the southern tip of Cayuga is home to Ithaca which boasts numerous waterfalls and multiple state parks worth visiting.

Both Seneca and Cayuga lake are popular places to visit in the Finger Lakes, especially when it comes to hunting waterfalls.

Finger Lakes FAQ’s

Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

How many waterfalls are in the NY Finger Lakes?

There are hundred of waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region of New York because this area is home to several gorges which are the perfect natural topography to create waterfalls.

What is the best Finger Lakes waterfall?

The best waterfall in the Finger Lakes is Rainbow Falls at Watkins Glen State Park.

Where are the best waterfalls in the Finger Lakes?

The best waterfalls in the Finger Lakes can be found around each lake as well as within the numerous NY state parks in the region.

More New York State Guides

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 waterfalls helps you plan your visit to upstate New York!

Please let us know if you have questions about any of these waterfalls in Ithaca or Rochester in the comment below.

Happy Waterfall Hunting,

Mark and Kristen

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