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.”
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.
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.
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
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 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!
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.
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.
More information about High Falls
Located in the City of Rochester (get directions)
More information: cityofrochester.gov
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
Rochester’s fun facts will inspire you to explore more. And these are just some of the historical tidbits that make Rochester special.
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!