High Falls Rochester Genesee River

High Falls on the Genesee River

The future home of Rochester High Falls State Park!

Our earliest settlers realized the value of High Falls when they chose this area to develop. There are very few cities in America with an incredible waterfall as a central focal point!

High Falls is the name of the waterfall, the neighboring historic district, and the future Rochester High Falls State Park. Popular spots to view the falls include High Falls Terrace, the Pont de Rennes Bridge, and Genesee Brew House’s rooftop patio while enjoying a casual meal and a tasty beverage. On the west side of the river, visitors can walk along cobblestone streets to learn about the area’s hydropower history and see the top of the falls near the Gorsline Building.

Best of Rochester - Day Trips Around Rochester book

Day Trips Around Rochester, New York

High Falls observation deck
High Falls Genesee River Rochester waterfall
High Falls Genesee River Rochester high water flow
High Falls Genesee River Rochester rock wall
High Falls Genesee River Rochester east side view
High Falls Brewery Trail
High Falls Genesee River Rochester platform
High Falls Rochester Genesee River

The East Bank High Falls Viewing Platform

If your goal is more to explore the area, there’s a small parking lot next to the brew house at High Falls Terrace Park. There is a platform on the east side of the river, walking south from the brew house.

Genesee Brew House rooftop seating overlooking waterfall
Genesee Brew House Holiday Lights Keg Tree
High Falls Genesee River Rochester roof
Genesee Brew House Rochester New York

Genesee Brew House

If your goal is to see the falls, I recommend parking at the Genesee Brew House off St. Paul Boulevard. Head up to the roof for a drink or find a window seat to enjoy a meal and a tasty brew.

High Falls Genesee River Rochester overlook winter falls
High Falls Genesee River Rochester west side view
High Falls Genesee River Rochester island
High Falls Rochester Genesee River
High Falls Genesee River Rochester bridge
High Falls Genesee River Rochester bridge view
High Falls Genesee River Rochester looking up

Pont de Rennes Pedestrian Bridge

Please note that the bridge is closed through 2024 while undergoing repairs.

The Platt Street Bridge was closed to cars in 1977 and re-opened as the Pont de Rennes pedestrian bridge in 1982. Looking out over the gorge, you can see rock formations of shale, limestone, and sandstone with bands of iron ore.

These sedimentary rocks, formed by the accumulation of deposits that came from what is now the Hudson Valley, are over 400 million years old. Soils from the then Alpine-like mountains were washed into a shallow sea.

The sediment compressed and cemented to form layers of rock. The red sandstone, locally called Medina sandstone, provided an excellent building material and is often found on Rochester sidewalks, curbs, and older buildings. Learn More

High Falls Rochester NY Genesee west bank
High Falls Terrace
High Falls Terrace
Kodak

The West Bank Viewing Terrace

A portion of the original Gorsline Building is now a terraced park for viewing the falls and river gorge. Don’t miss three landmarks seen only from this location: the eastern view of the lip of High Falls, the original wheel pit of Rochester’s early sawmill, and The Leap, a small balcony near the spot where waterfall daredevil Sam Patch took his last jump. More than half of Rochester watched as Sam took his fatal plunge on Friday, the 13th of November, 1829. Learn More

High Falls Rochester NY Genesee River Browns Race Market
High Falls Rochester NY Genesee River Browns Race building
High Falls Rochester NY Genesee River business center
High Falls Rochester Plumbing Supply Co
Rochester's historic buildings
Rochester's historic buildings
Rochester's historic buildings
Rochester's historic buildings
walking tour
High Falls walking tour ROC the Riverway
Rochester's historic buildings
Rochester's historic buildings
mill exposed
tables

High Falls Historic District

If you are also interested in the region’s geological and industrial heritage or want to learn about the extraordinary work Greentopia is doing to revitalize the space, start on the west side and park on the street or in the parking garage on Lake Ave. Wander the beautiful cobblestone streets, look over the original Brown’s Race mills, and admire the buildings. An informative self-guided walking tour is also available.

Center at High Falls museum
Recreation of the mill race
Recreation of the mill race
High Falls walking tour
Guide Walk High Falls
High Falls guided walk

A guided walk to the base of High Falls

To my knowledge, a guided walk was only offered a handful of times during ROC the Riverway weekend in October. I’m hoping they do more tours in the future, especially as the area transitions into a new state park.

Rochester Waterworks building

More information about High Falls

Cost: Free

Located in the City of Rochester (get directions)

More information: cityofrochester.gov

Greentopia
Rendering inside the Greentopia office

Greentopia

Greentopia has established the FIRST EcoDistrict in New York State here at High Falls—a model for sustainable and resilient neighborhoods.

Through extraordinary ecological design, stewardship, and community advocacy, we will create a resilient Rochester – one neighborhood at a time. Together, we will reclaim the power of the Genesee River to connect us to each other and to inspire the creation of a vibrant, flourishing new Rochester.

Greentopia Mission & Vision

Explore More

Exploring The Genesee River

At Genesee Valley Park, the river merges with the Erie Canal and continues north through Rochester before reaching Lake Ontario.

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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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Easy Waterfalls

Not all waterfalls are hidden in dark ravines. Many of the region’s most stunning waterfalls can be viewed from the road or a short walk.

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Rochester’s Fun Facts: Oldest, Original, Only, & More!

Rochester’s fun facts will inspire you to explore more. And these are just some of the historical tidbits that make Rochester special.

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Where is your favorite spot to view High Falls?

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.

2 thoughts on “High Falls on the Genesee River”

  1. Too bad that people such as myself don’t feel very safe going downtown. All of the downtown area is surrounded by the highest crime areas in the city of Rochester. Beautiful river falls but surrounded by run down homes, vacant store fronts, police cars screaming through Main Street. Too bad Rochester turned out this way. Not the same city I grew up in.

    1. I lived and grew up in Rochester. Graduated from high school in 1960. It was a wonderful and safe childhood. I returned for my 50th highschool reunion. Even at that time I could see how the city had changed. Very rundown. Felt very unsafe driving through the once safe areas

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