High Falls

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!

View our spectacular urban fall from several vantage points to truly appreciate its significance: the east-bank viewing platform, the roof of the Genesee Brew House, the Pont de Rennes Bridge, and the west-bank viewing platform.

We’re still a few years away from having a state park downtown, but you can follow its progression on ROC the Riverway. “The ROC the Riverway program consolidates more than two dozen transformational projects along the Genesee River into a unified strategy. This will enable Rochester to better leverage the value of it’s riverfront.”

High Falls Genesee River Rochester overlook
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 Genesee River Rochester
High Falls Genesee River Rochester walkway
High Falls Genesee River Rochester platform
High Falls Genesee River Rochester roc the falls

The East Bank High Falls Viewing Platform

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

High Falls Genesee River Rochester view
Genesee Brew House Holiday Lights Keg Tree
High Falls Genesee River Rochester roof

Genesee Brew House

I recommend if your goal is to simply to see the falls, then park at the Genesee Brew House off St. Paul Blvd. and head up to the roof for a drink, or grab a window seat and a meal inside.

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

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

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 saw mill; 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

High Falls Historic District

If you are also interested in the geological and industrial heritage of the region, or to learn about the great 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 out over the original Brown’s Race mills, and admire the buildings. There’s an informative self-guided walking tour available as well!

Center at High Falls museum
museum taxi exhibit
table model
power of ideas
Interpretive museum
Recreation of the mill race
Recreation of the mill race

High Falls Interpretive Center and Museum

Helpful guides and a marvelous overview of area history, geography, commerce and culture. Learn about the contributions of famous Rochesterians.

High Falls walking tour
Guide Walk High Falls
High Falls guided walk

A guided walk to the base of High Falls

To the best of my knowledge a guided walk has only been offered once in October 2019 during ROC the Riverway weekend. I’m hoping they do more tours in the future! We’ll be sure to post on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts if we hear of one, and update this article.

Rochester Waterworks building

More information about High Falls

Cost: Free

Located in the City of Rochester (get directions)

More information: cityofrochester.gov

Rendering inside the Greentopia office


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

13 Places in the City to Enjoy the Genesee River

At Genesee Valley Park, the Genesee River begins her journey through the city, racing over a dam and three waterfalls before emptying into Lake Ontario.

Read more

Geologic History of the Rochester Area

These day trips into Rochester’s geologic history, filled with drumlins, fossils, and a meromictic lake will leave you awe-struck.

Read more

26 Roadside Waterfalls Near Rochester

Impressive waterfalls are not all buried in dark ravines accessible only by difficult trails. For many, you don’t need to leave your car.

Read more

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.

Read more

Where is your favorite spot to view High Falls?

Please share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments. Your insight and experience are invaluable!

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Author Debi Bower is the Founder and Chief Day Tripper for Day Trips Around Rochester, NY. Happy trails!


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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.