21 Spectacular Finger Lakes Waterfalls for the Non-Hiker Hiker 2023
The Finger Lakes Waterfalls are OUTSTANDING and if you love falling waters, then you too must see them!
Recently, Robb and I ventured to Upstate New York for a little downtime. Little did we know, we would be completely blown away by what we found. In fact, we had no idea that the Finger Lakes Waterfalls were going to be so spectacular.
Our itinerary was pretty simple to start. Most of the waterfalls we ventured out to see are close to the parking area and less than a mile roundtrip hike. They are mostly hikes for the non-hiker.
These are 21 Spectacular Finger Lakes Waterfalls for the Non-Hiker Hiker
These 21 Finger Lakes Waterfalls are listed in no particular viewing order. For navigational ease, the waterfalls are grouped together by the town in which they are located.
Montour Falls, NY
- Chequaga Falls-165ft Cascade
- Aunt Sarah Falls- 90ft Ribbon
- Hector Falls- 100ft Cascade
- Ithaca Falls- 150ft Cascade
- Cascadilla Gorge Trail- 8 Waterfalls ranging from 8ft-80ft in height Cascades and Tier
- Endfield Falls- 30ft Cascade
- Triphammer Falls-55ft Cascade
- Taughannock Falls- 215 Single Drop Plunge
- Toughannock State Park Upper Falls- 100ft Cascade
Pen Yan, NY
- Seneca Mills Falls-40ft Tier
- Cascade Mills Falls- 20ft Cascade
- Letchworth State Park Upper Falls- 40ft Horseshoe Cascade
- Letchworth State Park Middle Falls-107ft Cascade
- Letchworth State Park Lower Falls-70ft Cascade
Watkins Glen, NY
- Entry Cascade at Sentry Bridge -Watkins Glen State Park-41ft Cascade
- Cavern Cascade – Watkins Glen State Park-52ft Cascade
- Central Cascade -Watkins Glen State Park-60ft Cascade
- Rainbow Falls – Watkins Glen State Park-101ft Triple Cascade
- Pluto Falls -Watkins Glen State Park-9ft Tiered
- Holley Falls-35ft Cascade
Niagra Falls, NY
- American Falls-190Ft Tall and 1060ft Wide Cataract
Finger Lakes Waterfalls near Montour Falls, NY
1. Chequaga “SheQuaGa” Falls
109 S Genesee St, Montour Falls, NY 14865
In the middle of town, you can see the stunning SheQuaGa Falls.
If waterfalls and picnic areas are your things, then SheQuaGa Falls may be your new top favorite destination.
The park is easily accessible complete with walking trails, a pavilion, and benches. The main attraction is the 156-foot cascading waterfall. Visitors can walk around the pool and feel the spray of the falls.
This serene setting and accessibility make SheQuaGa Falls a perfect destination or backdrop for a photo shoot.
2. Aunt Sarah Falls
307 N Catherine St, Montour Falls, NY 14865
Just ½ mile away from SheQuaGa Falls is Aunt Sarah Falls. This towering 90-foot ribbon falls is another waterfall photo opportunity.
Parking is tight, so be mindful when crossing the street.
As with most waterfalls, Aunt Sarah Falls is best viewed after rain or in the spring when the flow is heavier. Unfortunately for us, this waterfall was bone dry when we visited.
3. Hector Falls
NY 414, Burdette, NY
When traveling along Route 414, keep your eyes open or you will miss it. Though this massive roadside waterfall towers at 165 feet, traffic may prevent you from snapping a picture.
The road is busy, so proceed with caution. There are a few parking spots on the road near Hector Falls.
The roadside viewing area gives a view of only 50 feet of this cascading waterfall. From the overlook bridge, you can almost touch the cascading waters and see the waters fall below you.
Boating on Seneca Lake may give you a view of the other 100 feet of Hector Falls.
Finger Lakes Waterfalls Near Ithaca, NY
4. Ithaca Falls
Lake Street, Ithaca, NY
Ithaca Falls is a jaw-dropper. Even though you can see Ithaca Falls from the roadway, the best views are found inside the gorge.
Parking for Ithaca Falls is ample, yet the lot itself is very steep. With two levels available, it is very easy to find a parking spot.
From the highway overlook, you can see the falls up through the gorge. However, taking the short 10-minute hike into the gorge changes everything.
The terrain is rocky and uneven, yet relatively flat once you are down on the riverbed trail. The walls of the gorge reach heights of 100 feet.
As you come to the clearing, you will be captivated by the full view of this stunning 150-foot cascade. This is a beautiful place to sit and experience the wonders of waterfalls.
Despite the fact the pool looks inviting, swimming is not allowed. Loose shale and underwater currents make these waters incredibly dangerous.
5. Cascadilla Gorge Waterfall Trail
Lower Trailhead Access: Treman Triangle Park, Intersection of Linn St and East Court Street, Ithaca, NY
Upper Trailhead Access: Cornell University Campus, behind Schwartz Center for Theatre Arts, Intersection Oak Ave and College Avenue, Ithaca, NY
The 1.3-mile gorge trail leads its visitors from the Cornell University Campus to downtown Ithaca. The trail can be a strenuous walk for some as there are stair steps and plenty of them.
The hike along Cascadilla Creek is gorgeous with the towering gorge walls and 8 flowing waterfalls. Along the way, there are plenty of resting spots, benches, and sturdy walls to view the waters.
The Cascadilla Gorge Trail is closed during the winter months as it becomes extremely dangerous.
For non-hiker hikers like us, we started at the bottom and hiked up the gorge. The last 2 sets of steps up to the Campus are knee killers.
Unless you are planning to ride-share back to the bottom, of the gorge, these 200+ uneven stairs are not necessary.
Reward yourself at this last beautiful waterfall and take a break.
6. Enfield Falls
105 Enfield Falls Rd, Ithaca, NY
Treman State Park is a double treat for visitors. With both a waterfall and a swimming hole, you can easily spend the entire day relaxing in the grove.
The walk from the parking lot is very easy, flat, and paved. Just the way non-hikers like us prefer hiking paths.
From a height of 30 feet, Enfield Falls cascades into the cold water pond below. Adventurous swimmers jump from the diving board into the 20 ft deep swimming hole.
For those that are a little less adrenaline fed, the shallow end of the pool is the perfect area to take a dip on a hot afternoon.
7. Triphammer Falls
Cornell University Campus: University Ave & East Ave, Ithaca, NY
Cornell University houses a stunning 55-foot cascading waterfall hidden within the campus.
Metered parking is available at the top of the steep walking path, not far from the viewing bridge.
There is a small lot at the bottom of the path reserved for Cornell University Maintenance. Although parking here is neither encouraged nor permitted, however, a quick peek at the falls probably won’t hurt. Use your discretion.
8. Taughannock Falls
Taughannock State Park1740 Taughannock Blvd, Trumansburg, NY
Taughannock Falls is New York’s highest single-drop waterfall. This spectacular 215-foot plunge waterfall is worth a visit.
Just a short drive from the entrance to the viewing area there is plenty of parking. Visitors can see this magnificent waterfall from a convenient overlook.
For those that are more agile, there is a staircase down to the riverbed. However, there is no elevator back to the top. A short .75-mile hike will bring you to the base of this huge plunge.
Together, the 400 feet gorge walls and stunning waterfall makes this a must-do on your next Finger Lakes Waterfalls adventure.
9. Upper Falls
Just a short drive up through the park is the Upper Falls. The small parking lot is convenient and the walk to view the falls is short. Less than a ¼-mile round trip will give you a fantastic view of the Upper Falls.
Standing on the bridge, you can see this beautiful cascade drop 100 feet into the narrow gorge below.
For those more adventurous, both the north and south rim trails are accessible from here.
Finger Lakes Waterfalls near Pen Yan
The Keuka Outlet Trail and Waterfalls
The Keuka Outlet Trail and Waterfalls hike is 6.8 miles long with 2 powerful waterfalls. Don’t worry, you can drive to both or at least get close enough to the action.
10. Seneca Mills Falls
2019 Ridge Rd, Penn Yan, NY
From the parking area, the walk is mostly uphill but easy. You can walk right up to the edge and see the 3 tiered cascading waterfalls, or hike up to the top of the hill just a few yards further.
The view from the mill ruins is beautiful as you can view the river bed looking both upstream and downstream over the 40-foot waterfall.
Seneca Mills once a vibrant paper mill is now a distant memory. The ruins of the mill and pump house give visitors a glimpse into its heyday.
A nearby pavilion and benches make Seneca Mills Falls a relaxing place to spend the afternoon.
11. Cascade Mills Falls
Outlet Rd, Penn Yan, NY
Cascade Mills Falls is about a ¾-mile round trip walk through the lush green forest and winding along the river. The path is flat and easy, even for non-hikers like us.
Once you get to the old mill there is a nice bench to rest and listen to the powerful tiered waterfall.
The ruins consist of an old post office and the Cascade Mill, which closed in 1966. Although there are “no trespassing” signs posted around the vacant mill, the graffiti shows something different.
Several buildings are scheduled for demolition to make the area safer for visitors, hikers, and waterfall seekers.
The massive green space and trails make Cascade Mills Falls a quiet retreat.
Waterfalls in Letchworth State Park
1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY
WOW and WOW is the only way to describe Letchworth State Park. It is very easy to stay in this State Park for days exploring the many trails, overlooks, and 30 waterfall hikes.
Visitors quickly understand why Letchworth State Park is Often referred to as “The Grand Canyon of the East”.
Stretching 17 miles, along the Genesee River, visitors are treated to breathtaking views of the nearly 600 ft walls of the gorge. This is a spectacular park!
Our hike included only 3 waterfalls. These are the big ones, in other words, the main attractions.
Some of the hikes can be brutal, so consult your Letchworth Park Map before attempting something beyond your ability.
12. Upper Falls
From the entry at Portageville, it is just a short drive to the upper falls viewing area. The iconic Letchworth State Park photo is right here in front of you!
For the more agile, there is a path and stairs that lead you down to the walkway toward the middle falls.
13. Middle Falls
To view the Middle Falls you can walk down the steps at the Upper Falls and walk along the river walkway. The hike is 1.5 miles and fairly easy, or, you can drive down to the next parking area.
The walkway leads to a spectacular view of the middle falls. This is NOT to be missed.
Follow the stone wall around to the Middle falls viewing area for stunning views of this powerful 107-foot cascading waterfall. The sound alone is mesmerizing.
14. Lower Falls
The Lower Falls is a little more difficult to visit. For those more adventurous and fit, the hiking trail continues from the Upper Falls through the Middle Falls and deep into the Lower Falls.
The Gorge Trail is 7 miles long making it a 14-mile round trip.
For non-hikers like us, the drive through the park is just as stunning and there is convenient parking to the Lower Falls.
The “easy view” of the Lower Falls is about ½ mile hike from the parking lot. This vantage point gives you an ok view of the falls. You won’t be disappointed if you decide not to take this walk.
However, if you are comfortable with stair steps, there are 127 of them leading down to the Lower Falls Platform. From here, you will have the best view of the 70-foot-tall cascade. Remember though, there is no elevator back up to the top!
Waterfalls of Watkins Glen State Park
100 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY
Watkins Glen is home to 19 waterfalls, but that’s not all. In addition to the flowing waters, there are over 800 stone steps, trails, and views that will leave you breathless.
Before you begin your hike into the gorge, prepare yourself. The Gorge trail is about 1.5 miles and you will have to decide where you want to start: Up or Down.
Start in the main parking lot, and climb up 400 feet to the top of the gorge, or park in the Upper Lot to descend 400 feet to the bottom of the gorge. Either way, there are a lot of stairs (832) to tackle.
For the fit and industrious hiker, you can take one of the other trails such as the Indian Trail back around the top of the gorge. This will allow you to explore the area, gorges, and waterfalls from a different vantage point.
Of course, you can always hike the gorge trail in the opposite direction. For us non-hiker hikers, it is a one-way trip and there is a convenient $6 shuttle back to the parking lot. There is no shame in our game.
The best waterfalls are located near the main parking lot entrance. Depending on which direction you are hiking, you can call this waterfall the Grand Finale, or A Preview of what’s to come:
15. Entry Cascade at Sentry Bridge
The waterfall cascades down 41 feet into the pool below. Should you decide not to hike the Gorge Trail, you can still see this waterfall. It’s just a short walk from the Visitor Center on cement. There is a small incline, but there is also plenty of seating. Take a few minutes and listen to the beautiful sound of the water.
16. Cavern Cascade
Have you ever walked behind a waterfall? When you come here, you will. Cavern Cascade is a breathtaking 52-footer. From every angle, the falling water will leave you mesmerized. There is plenty of viewing room from both sides. However, it is wet and can be slippery. Proceed with caution and watch your electronics!
STRO TIP: In our opinion, this waterfall is the most spectacular sight in Watkins Glen. If you are coming up from the bottom and considering turning around, walk up just a little further until you reach this waterfall. It’s worth it!
17. Central Cascade
Dropping 60 feet makes Central Cascade the tallest waterfall in Watkins Glen. From the bridge, you can peek over and down into the pools. And if you are hiking DOWN, make sure you turn around to get your perfect view.
18. Rainbow Falls
Outstanding is the word to describe this waterfall. The view looks like something out of a magical fairytale. The walls of the gorge are high, while the waterfall cascades down to the emerald pools below. But wait, watch out! You will walk under another waterfall as you ascend! Take a few minutes here. After all, this is what you came to see!
19. Pluto Falls
Mysterious and captivating are what come to mind with this view. Although Pluto Falls is only about 9 feet tall, it is extraordinary. The emerald pool below will have you wanting to scale the walls. However, don’t try. Swimming is not allowed in the falls and pools in Watkins Glen.
Throughout the hike, you will see plenty of smaller waterfalls, tunnels, jaw-dropping views, and stairs. Keep in mind, that the Gorge Trail closes for the season in late October because of the freezing temperatures. The walkways become extremely dangerous.
In mid-May, the trail will once again open and the streams and waterfalls will be flowing freely. With the melting snow, the water is likely to be fast and furious!
Stro Tip: If you are planning to hike UP and turn around and go back DOWN, you may want to skip the 120 steps at Jacobs Ladder. Unless you are taking a different trail or need to use the restroom, save yourself the climb. You will have seen the best parts of the trail already and you will save a lot of huffing it!
Watkins Glen is NOT to be missed. Whether you are camping in a nearby state park, at a hotel, or at a VBRO, make sure you schedule some time to see this gorge!
Waterfalls in Holley, NY
20. Holley Canal Falls and Trail
Village of Holley, NY
Holley Canal Falls is an unexpected treat. Located just 30 minutes from Rochester and nestled in the tiny Village of Holley is this 34-foot cascading beauty. From the comfort of your car, you can view Holley Canal Falls in the spacious parking lot.
For those that prefer to get up closer, there are trails and walking paths right up to the waterfalls. It’s not unusual to see families enjoying the park with a pavilion and benches to rest on while taking in the sights.
Stro Tip: Grab a cone or a milkshake at the Ice Cream parlor before coming down the hill to the park. Sweet treats always taste better in beautiful locations.
Niagara Falls, NY
21. American Falls
No Finger Lakes Waterfalls list would be complete without a mention of Niagara Falls.
The roaring rapids and powerful waterfalls make Niagara Falls one of the top travel destinations in the United States and Canada. Niagara Falls is a tourist town, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and things to do. However, we want to talk about the Falls.
From the parking area, it is a short walk to the roaring rapids of the Niagara River. Walking along the paved path allows for some beautiful pictures. Just when you didn’t think it could get any better, BOOM, there it is, just an arm’s length away.
Spanning a width of 1050 ft and dropping 188 ft is the iconic American Falls.
Between the roar of the American Falls and the breathtaking views waterfall chasers will agree that Niagara Falls is not to be missed.
Where are the Finger Lakes?
By now, you are probably packing your bags and planning your Finger Lakes Waterfalls tour. However, you might need a little more clarity on where this scenic region is located.
The Finger Lakes region encompasses 11 long narrow lakes in Western New York State. More specifically the Finger Lakes region is located west of Syracuse and east of Canandaigua Lake while Lake Ontario borders north and Pennsylvania to the south.
Roughly 9900 square miles make up this New York treasure. Here you will find over 100 wineries, breweries, and distilleries complete with some of the most beautiful views of the lakes.
With over 2 dozen state parks, there is ample camping, hiking, boating, and of course plenty of Finger Lakes Waterfalls.
This area provides the perfect getaway from the city. Hometown charm, lake views, and deep gorges await your arrival.
Whether you are a seasoned hiker or prefer parking lot views with ice cream, you can find some of the most beautiful scenery in this area including the Finger Lakes waterfalls.
Weather Conditions Change The Finger Lakes Waterfalls
When planning a tour of the Finger Lakes waterfalls, be sure to consider the weather.
Winter months pose several considerations. Often the waterfalls are frozen giving a unique photo opportunity. However, many of the trails and gorges are closed for the season. The snow and ice are extremely dangerous for hikers, especially novices.
Even though the temperatures heat up in the summer, the humidity in the Finger Lakes region is low. The colors are bright green and lush, while the lakes are blue and refreshing.
Depending on the rain, a few waterfalls or streams may be dry. However, don’t fret, there are plenty of beautiful Finger Lakes waterfalls with plenty of water to chase.
Late Spring could be the perfect time for the fast-flowing waters, as well as budding trees and blossoms everywhere. While the nights are chilly, you will find mild temperatures during the day.
Fall can be the most magical time in the Finger Lake region. Experience the foliage as it turns from green to an array of reds, yellow, and even purples. Unfortunately, you must time this season just right, because it only lasts for a short time, before the leaves fall to the ground.
11 EASY Steps to Prepare yourself for your Finger Lakes Waterfalls Adventure
Weekends tend to keep the trails crowded. However, you may find yourself completely alone during weekday hikes. Whether you are a skilled hiker or a non-hiker hiker like us always prepare yourself BEFORE setting out on your waterfall escapade.
Easy Preparation for Non-Hiker Hikers
- Always tell a trusted someone your plans. Check-in with them when you finish.
- Check the weather. There is not much worse than fighting heavy rain on the trails.
- Download a trail map so you don’t get lost.
- Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots.
- Use your walking stick or hiking poles.
- Pack snacks.
- Bring water and hydrate.
- Charge your cell phone and bring it.
- Bring your camera and tripod.
- Close your eyes and listen.
- Enjoy every minute.
Check out these great hiking picks from Amazon below.
More Things To Do In the Finger Lakes Waterfalls Region
Leaving New York City, you can sit back and relax as your tour bus transports you to these fabulous destinations.
Enjoy the Finger Lakes Waterfalls, Niagara Falls, Boldt Castle, and more!
Let’s wrap it up: 21 Spectacular Finger Lakes Waterfalls for the Non-Hiker Hiker!
Waterfalls bring magic and beauty to our landscapes. Whether the water is free falling, cascading, or flowing into ribbons and tiers, the sounds are mesmerizing.
The Finger Lakes Region is vast and colorful with many more waterfalls to chase.
We’ve brought you 21 Finger Lakes Waterfalls hikes for the non-hiker. There is so much more to behold in this region.
Go Forth And Travel Finger Lakes Waterfalls and More!
The Finger Lakes Region has so much more to offer. With 11 lakes, 50+ Finger Lakes Waterfalls, hundreds of walking trails, so many gorges, your adventure is waiting to happen. (Even for non-hiker hikers like us).
Thanks for reading!
Travel Safe and Adventure Often…..