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Take the Plunge: Explore New York’s Gorges and Waterfalls


"Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to…"

Sorry, TLC – but I’m going to have to disagree here. In Upstate New York, we have an abundance of gorges, trails and natural wonders - from the tallest drop in the state to watering holes with no clothes required (you read that right!). My must-see list for those visiting the area, includes:

Skinny Dip Falls

Skinny Dip Falls: As the name implies, clothing is optional within a 1.6-kilometer radius of this waterfall and swimming hole. Popular with locals and nudists alike, the hiking trail to the falls is moderate, and filled with gorge views and smaller waterfalls.

Indian Falls

Scenic and serene, Indian Falls has the best view from the deck of Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant. Voted 2013 "Rookie of the Year" restaurant by Taste of Buffalo, diners can eat and drink next to the beauty of the six-meter drop.

High Falls

High Falls: My choice for your urban falls location. Get up close and personal with High Falls in Rochester from a pedestrian bridge over the Genesee River Gorge. One of three waterfalls located within the City of Rochester, High Falls offers a spectacular 29 meter drop and a view of the city skyline. The pedestrian bridge is also located next to another Rochester classic, the Genesee Brew House (great brews and food in abudance!).

Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park: No trip would be complete without the inclusion of Letchworth State Park, The Grand Canyon of the East – which has a whopping total of 22 waterfalls throughout the park. Upper Falls – the most iconic - is marked by the Erie Railroad High Bridge, built in 1875 and currently under construction. With an in-park restaurant, Inn, lodge, campground, cabins, seasonal pool, and miles of trails both above and within the gorge, Letchworth is a must-do for any waterfall lover. The park was also voted the number one state park in the county in 2015 by USAToday’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards.

Stony Brook State Park

Stony Brook State Park: Another gorge park, Stony Brook is home to three major falls, and a multitude of small ones. Wander the gorge trail, a moderate hike which takes visitors in a circle through the heart of the gorge, to the top, and back down. Wadding is permitted in many of their pools, and a natural pool can be found at the start of the trail.

Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park: Located directly off Main Street, Watkins Glen is home to 19 waterfalls over three kilometers. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through caverns, giving visitors “gorge-ous” views around every turn. Voted the third best state park in the county in 2015 by USAToday’s 10 Best. The park’s convenient downtown location is also just minutes away from Watkins Glen International Race Track- a USAToday two-time winner for Best NASCAR track in the country.

Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls: As the saying goes, Ithaca is gorges. And where there’s gorges, there’s bound to be waterfalls- over 150 waterfalls within 25 square kilometers to be exact. The city is home to the tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains- Taughannock Falls. Pronounced Tuh-GA-nick, the 65 ½ meter cascade is three stories taller than Niagara Falls. From designated state parks to downtown, Ithaca is dotted with more waterfalls than almost anywhere else in the state.

Pick your pleasure, plan your visit – and don’t forget to pack your water shoes!