Letchworth State Park comprises 14,350 linear acres along the Genesee River. The park offers a diverse experience for all visitors.
Relax beside a massive waterfall, hike the gorge trails, fish in the park’s pond, take a ride during the hot air balloon festival, whitewater raft, dine at the Glen Iris Inn, learn about the local history of the Seneca people and Mary Jemison or the geology of Upstate New York.
Exploring Letchworth State Park
There are several entrances into Letchworth from the north, south, and west. To give you an idea how large this park is, it takes 30 minutes to drive 16-miles from the Mount Morris entrance to the Glen Iris Inn.
If you have a short window of time, focus on the south end
Visitors use the Castile entrance as the most direct route to Lower, Middle and Upper Falls, Glen Iris Inn, Visitor Center, Council Grounds, Trout Pond, and the Nature Center.
If you see a sign for a Scenic Overlook, stop! You won’t regret it. The road heading north from Castile to Mount Morris is a slow, beautiful, winding one with several more overlooks and Wolf Creek (Tea Table), my favorite section of the entire park.
Glen Iris Inn
The Glen Iris is the former home of William Pryor Letchworth. It is a seasonal inn, open roughly mid-April through October. They offer both dining and accommodations. Someday I’d love to spend the night here, listening to Middle Falls roaring right outside.
The Lower Falls are the least accessible of Letchworth State Park’s 3 major waterfalls.
The Lower Falls Trail
This stairway with 127 steps provides a view of the lower waterfall, river flume and footbridge to the east side of the park.
Portage Trail #6
This trail begins outside Letchworth State Park on the south-east side of the river and connects to the Lower Falls Trail at the Stone Bridge.
There is an incredible natural history told in the gorge, but the story told at Council Grounds is about people. William Pryor Letchworth was fascinated by the history of the Seneca and actively participated in, and advocated for, the preservation of their culture.
The Council Fire was held on October 1, 1872. After the speeches and the rededication of the Council House, the Senecas held another ceremony, adopting Letchworth as Hai-wa-ye-is-tah, the “Man who always Does Right.”. Before they left, the Iroquois and other guests, which included former President Millard Fillmore, planted memorial trees and signed their names in a special guest register.Glimpses of the Past People, Places, and Things in Letchworth Park History
You’ll enjoy learning more about Mary Jemison, White Woman of the Genesee. She was kidnapped as a teenager by the Seneca, and opted to stay with them as she aged. She served as an interpreter and advocated for the rights of the Seneca to the land. Most notably,
After the war, the Seneca, as allies of the defeated British, were forced to give up their lands to the victorious United States. At that time, during negotiations with the Holland Land Company held at Geneseo, New York, Mary Jemison proved to be an able negotiator for the Seneca tribe. She helped win more favorable terms for surrendering their rights to the land at the Treaty of Big Tree (1797).Wikipedia
Humphrey Nature Center
Wolf Creek at Tea Table
Over-sized chair near
Mount Morris Dam
State Park Events
You’ll either love the excitement or hate the crowds. Either way, you should be aware that there are several large events held in the park. They also have a wealth of smaller events that help visitors explore the trails and natural elements, and popular events throughout the summer like car shows, blues & BBQ, fireworks.
Red, White and Blue Balloon Rally
Memorial Day in Archery Park. Visit Balloons Over Letchworth website for more info.
Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show & Festival
Columbus Day weekend. Ranked in the top 50 arts festivals in the USA. Visit the festival website for more info.
- Cost: $8 per vehicle, free off-season (roughly Oct-May)
- Located between Mt. Morris and Castile, roughly 60 minutes / 60 miles from Rochester (get directions)
- More information: nysparks.com
Venture into one of these New York State Parks within a 2-hour drive of Rochester and discover what makes them each unique!
Where are your favorite spots in Letchworth State Park?
Share with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!