Fillmore Glen cover walking over bridge

Gorge Trails Near Rochester

The Finger Lakes region is well-known for its glacially carved gorges and picturesque waterfalls. Exploring a place with a gorge, gully, glen, or ravine in its name guarantees a memorable experience.

Park managers aim for Memorial Day to open trails that have been closed for the winter, but the exact date depends on factors such as weather and necessary repairs for public safety. Some gorge trails may not officially close in the winter, but waterfall spray can make them treacherous for all but the most skilled hikers with proper gear. Even the popular Taughannock Falls trail may be icy at the base of the falls during winter.

Best of Rochester - Day Trips Around Rochester book

Day Trips Around Rochester, New York

A Note About Creek Walks

Many people have fond memories of standing under Stony Brook’s waterfalls or splashing in the stream at Corbett’s Glen, and you may even see people wading in these areas now. But only some places currently permit visitors to walk, wade, or swim in a creek. To protect habitats and the health of future generations, it is important to follow regulations and avoid entering restricted waters. However, there are specific sites where creek walking is necessary to reach cascades that are beyond established creekside trails or in the absence of such routes, including:

  • Barnes Creek Gully, Canandaigua
  • Conklin Gully, Naples
  • Eternal Flame Falls, Orchard Park
  • Grimes Glen, Naples
  • Gully Preserve, Dansville
  • Havana Glen, Montour Falls
  • Royalton Ravine, Gasport
  • Tannery Creek, Naples

To protect and preserve these freshwater tributaries, we must act as responsible stewards as we continue our exploration. Find additional information about these creeks in the details below.

Greater Rochester

Barnes Creek Gully

On the opposite side of West Lake Road from the swimming beach, Onanda Park offers a moderately challenging two-mile hiking trail and creek walk through the uplands. The creek will lead you to the first of three cascades, but the trail becomes more difficult after climbing the first fall, causing many people to turn back to the parking lot at this point. 4965 W. Lake Road, Canandaigua, Ontario County

Grimes Glen Waterfall Acrobat
Grimes Glen, First Fall

Grimes Glen

Following a short walk along the creekside trail, you must wade through the water for half a mile in order to find the first 60-foot waterfall. Continuing through the creek for another half mile will lead you to the second waterfall, a picturesque cascade of the same height. To make your way back to the parking lot, simply retrace your steps. 4703 Vine Street, Naples, Ontario County

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Grimes Glen in Naples

Grimes Glen is public, free, and you are encouraged to wade up the creek to the first and second waterfalls, both 60-foot cascades.

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Letchworth State Park lower garge bridge
Lower Falls Stone Bridge

Letchworth State Park

The Lower Falls in the Genesee River gorge can be accessed via 127 stone steps, offering a unique opportunity to explore the falls, footbridge, and surrounding environment. However, this area is difficult to reach and closed during winter, unlike the Middle and Upper Falls, which are viewable from the roadside throughout the year. Admission fee. Park Road, Castile, Wyoming County

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Explore Letchworth State Park

Letchworth has something for everyone, from hiking one of the park’s 29 trails and picnicking beside a waterfall to taking a scenic drive.

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Surrounding Counties

Akron Falls Park
Akron Falls Park

Akron Falls

Start your hike from the main parking lot near the dam for a leisurely walk beside Murder Creek through a dense forest ravine, leading straight to a magnificent 40-foot waterfall. Alternatively, you can park near the Rock Garden in the lot above the falls for a steeper approach. Halfway down the paved path, turn right to find a platform to observe the waterfall safely. If you turn left, you’ll continue into the ravine. At the bottom, you’ll see a clear path to the left, but if you turn right, the trail becomes filled with boulders. Adventurous hikers can continue to navigate around the rocks and make their way toward the waterfall’s base, but they’ll see a sign warning them not to go any further. 44 Parkview Drive, Akron, Erie County

Buttermilk Falls bridge
Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Stairs are prevalent along the 0.65-mile Buttermilk Creek Gorge Trail. When you reach the stone bridge, you can continue to the upper park, return through the gorge, or cross the creek and take the Rim Trail back to the parking area, where you can enjoy a swim in the natural stream-fed pool beneath Buttermilk Falls. The gorge trail is closed in winter. Admission fee. 106 E. Buttermilk Falls Road, Ithaca, Tompkins County

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Buttermilk Falls State Park

In Buttermilk Falls State Park, like most of the Finger Lakes gorge parks, stairs are the primary walkway along Buttermilk Creek; challenging but worth it!

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Cascadilla Gorge
Cascadilla Gorge

Cascadilla Gorge

Cascadilla Creek produces several waterfalls, ranging from swift cascades to 80-foot drops, as it descends 400 feet through the gorge. Starting from the bottom lets you encounter increasingly breathtaking waterfalls as you walk up the half-mile trail using steps and bridges to reach the top. The gorge trail is closed in winter. Linn Street (Treman Triangle Park at the bottom of the gorge) or College Avenue (Cornell University at the top of the gorge), Ithaca, Tompkins County

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Cascadilla Gorge in Ithaca

Cascadilla Creek descends 400 feet, producing eight waterfalls. Some are beautiful cascades, while others are over 80 feet in height.

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Eternal Flame Trail
Eternal Flame

Eternal Flame Falls

Walk along the trail from the parking lot to the creek bed and follow the water upstream. To find an optimal walking path, cross back and forth through the creek using stones and fallen logs. Remember that most people end up walking in the water at some point. The natural gas flame, sheltered in a tiny cave under a 35-foot waterfall, isn’t eternal, as its name suggests, so be sure to bring a lighter in case the flame is extinguished. The way may be more difficult after heavy rain, but the waterfall will be more impressive. This unique geologic feature is a stunning reward for your effort. Once you’ve enjoyed the waterfall, retrace your steps back to the parking lot. Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park, Erie County

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🔥 The Eternal Flame Hiking Trail

The Eternal Flame, where natural gas escapes into a sheltered grotto beneath Shale Creek’s 35-foot waterfall, is not actually eternal, despite its name.

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Fillmore Glen walking across bridge
Fillmore Glen

Fillmore Glen State Park

The shaded trail offers a refreshing escape on a hot day, especially when combined with a swim in the stream-fed pool. Just beyond the pool, before heading up to the gorge, take a quick detour to the base of Cow Shed Falls. Stone steps—140 in the beginning and several along the trail—and muddy paths make this a moderately challenging hike. The 1.3-mile gorge trail leads across several footbridges to four waterfalls along Dry Creek. The shale walls have fractures that allow water to trickle in, fostering the growth of lush vegetation like mosses, ferns, and trees. To return to the parking area, you can retrace your steps through the gorge or take the North Rim Trail. You can see a replica of the log cabin near the parking lot where President Millard Fillmore was born. The gorge trail is closed in winter. Admission fee. 1686 New York State Route 38, Moravia, Cayuga County

Gully Preserve
Gully Preserve

Gully Preserve

Gully Preserve, also known as Whitman’s Gully, is a scenic natural area with a short path on the northeast side of the Whitman Gully Road bridge that leads to Little Mill Creek. The site also offers moderately challenging trails that follow the creek to the north and south of the bridge, guiding hikers to several waterfalls. 1566 Whiteman Gully Road, Wayland, Steuben County

Havana Glen
Havana Glen

Havana Glen

McClure Creek and Eagle Cliff Falls are part of a more extensive town park and campground. A 0.75-mile trail, using a set of stairs secured to the gorge’s shale wall, leads to the base of the falls. Crowded on hot days and weekends, consider visiting on a weekday or early morning for a more peaceful experience. The gorge trail is closed in winter. Admission fee. 135 Havana Glen Road, Montour Falls, Schuyler County

Schoellkopf Site Elevator Gorge Level
Schoellkopf Site

Niagara River Gorge

The Rim Trail is an easy six-mile walking path that connects four state parks along the river: Niagara Falls, Whirlpool, Devil’s Hole, and Artpark. Observation areas along the trail offer breathtaking views of the turquoise-colored rapids below. The pathways to the river’s edge at Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool State Parks are challenging because their stone steps are steep and in various states of repair. At Niagara Falls State Park, visitors can take a free elevator ride down to the river’s edge to explore the ruins of the Schoellkopf Power Station. The Niagara Gorge hiking trails all begin at the Niagara Gorge Trailhead Center. Guided hiking tours are offered from mid-May through October. Call 716-282-5154 for group rates and information. Niagara Falls, Niagara County

Robert H Treman State Park
Robert H Treman

Robert H. Treman State Park

Explore the 2.5-mile gorge trail to discover 12 waterfalls, including 70-foot Enfield Falls and the stream-fed swimming pool near the lower parking lot. Visit the historic Enfield Falls Mill from the upper parking area before taking the moderately challenging gorge trail to find 115-foot Lucifer Falls. The gorge trail is closed in winter. Admission fee. 105 Enfield Falls Road, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Royalton Ravine rubberband bridge
Royalton Ravine

Royalton Ravine Park

The Red Trail, which follows the path of East Branch Eighteen Mile Creek, leads hikers to a bouncy 138-foot suspension bridge that crosses the ravine three feet above the water. After crossing the bridge, hikers can continue to search for Norton’s Falls and the ruins of the Belva Lockwood Homestead. The falls can be challenging to reach after a steady rain, making the dirt trails very muddy. 4662 Gasport Road, Gasport, Niagara County, (716) 439-7951

Stony Brook State Park gorge trail
Stony Brook

Stony Brook State Park

Most visitors hike in and out along the 0.75-mile Gorge Trail, enjoying the stream-fed pool, waterfalls, and stone bridges. The walkway beside Stony Brook is composed of shale and gravel, with some spots that are moderately challenging to navigate and dozens of steps to climb alongside each waterfall. The gorge trail is closed in winter. Admission fee. 10820 New York State Route 36, Dansville, Steuben County

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Stony Brook State Park

The walkway through Stony Brook State Park is a combo of shale, gravel, and stairs alongside waterfalls, similar to the other gorge parks.

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Taughannock Falls State Park bridge
Taughannock

Taughannock Falls State Park

At 215 feet tall, Taughannock Falls is the tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. The 0.75-mile hard-packed gravel gorge trail leads to the base of the falls and is open year-round. Admission fee. 1740 Taughannock Boulevard, Trumansburg, Tompkins County

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Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls’s 0.75-mile hard-packed gravel gorge trail leads to the base of the falls and is open year-round.

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Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park

Navigate the glen’s 520-foot elevation change using 800 stone steps, often wet with spray from Glen Creek’s 19 waterfalls. (See Day-Trip Destinations: Watkins Glen.) Admission fee. The gorge trail is closed in winter. 1009 N. Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, Schuyler County

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Explore Watkins Glen

The heart of the village of Watkins Glen is the 1.5-mile-long gorge, a truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring showcase of nature’s beauty.

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Wells Falls

To find the set of four cascading falls where Six Mile Creek drops 65 feet against the backdrop of an old mill, park at Mulholland Wildflower Preserve and cross the bridge. From there, take the quarter-mile pathway into the gorge below the falls. 501 Giles Street, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Advanced-Skill Trails

Clark Gully

On the south side of South Hill (also known as Nundawao, meaning Great Hill), Clark Gully is the legendary birthplace of the Seneca people. Casual hikers can walk a quarter-mile to the first waterfall, but the upper gully waterfalls are only suitable for advanced hikers. The mouth of Clark Gully offers a beautiful view of the West River Preserve. High Tor Wildlife Management Area, 4898 Sunnyside Road, Middlesex, Ontario County

Conklin Gully

The creek bed is the trail through Conklin Gully. Find the first cascade after walking a quarter mile. Only the most adventurous hikers should explore the remaining gully, using ropes to climb the waterfalls. It’s important to note that the creek may be dry, so it’s best to visit after steady rain to experience the waterfalls. However, this will make the hike more challenging. High Tor Wildlife Management Area, 4259 Parish Hill Road, Naples, Ontario County

Tannery Creek Glen

To embark on the half-mile journey through Tannery Creek, you must prepare for a challenging experience. With no signage, maps, or creekside trails, you’ll navigate over a series of 10- to 20-foot falls before reaching the final 40-foot cascade. To begin your adventure, find the trailhead at the parking lot behind the Naples Highway Department. 6892 Tannery Creek Road, Naples, Ontario County

Google Map of Locations

View the map separately here.

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Geologic History of the Rochester Area

These day trips into Rochester’s geologic history will remind you just how amazing our corner of the Earth is.

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Explore Ithaca

Spend a day in the City of Ithaca, exploring the waterfalls, restaurants, shops, and festivals that make this Ivy League college town unique.

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H2O Heritage: Exploring Rochester’s Freshwater Resources

Rochesterians are fortunate to be surrounded by abundant freshwater resources that present us with unique stewardship opportunities.

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50 New York State Parks Within a Two-Hour Drive of Rochester

Venture into one of these New York State Parks within a two-hour drive of Rochester and discover what makes them unique.

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80+ Hiking Trails Around Rochester

Less traveled than in our parks, these hiking trails around Rochester offer a secluded and rustic area to immerse yourself in nature.

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Where are your favorite gorge trails?

Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Debi Bower is the founder and creative director of daytrippingroc.com and author of the award-winning book Day Trips Around Rochester, New York.

People often ask me if I get free access to places while exploring. The answer is no unless I’m invited to previews or granted behind-the-scenes access as part of my media role. Generally, I don’t mention my project, Day Trips Around Rochester, NY, because I want the same experience you would have. I create and share content simply because it brings me joy. I would appreciate your support—a cup of coffee or two to help fuel future field trips—if you have found valuable information here that has helped you explore the Rochester area.

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