The Waterfalls of Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park is commonly referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East.”  The park is more than 14,000 acres and is bisected by a 22 mile long segment of the Genesee River.  The river is at the base of the canyon that is over 550 feet deep in some sections.  This unique topography offers visitors spectacular vistas and several waterfalls.

“The Grand Canyon of the East”
Photo Credit: Mike Radomski

The river gorge cuts through the valley allowing the Genesee River to roar over three major waterfalls and several whitewater rapids. The Seneca Indians called the area Sehgahunda, meaning the “Vale of Three Falls”.  The Upper, Middle and Lower Falls are by far the most popular and most photographed waterfalls in the park.

The sheer cliffs of the gorge and size of the Genesee River watershed  gives way to the more than 30 additional waterfalls throughout the park. Many of the waterfalls are created by creeks flowing over the gorge walls with some of these cascade over 300 feet high.  However, many are considered  ephemeral (only exist after a rainfall) or seasonal.

The Letchworth Middle Falls
Photo Credit: Keith Walters Photography

Deh-ga-ya-soh Falls, located between the Middle Falls and Inspiration Point, is the most dependable of these “minor, ephemeral” falls.  Deh-ga-ya-soh Falls is a complex ribbon falls that cascades over 150 ft.  Deh-ga-ya-soh Falls in the Seneca language means “Nameless Spirits”.

Inspiration Falls
Photo Credit: Keith Walters Photography

Located nearby Deh-ga-ya-soh Falls, is the 350 ft. tall Inspiration Falls.  Although Inspiration Falls only flows during periods of heavy rain or snow melt off, it becomes NYS’s tallest waterfall.

Another dependable waterfall is located at Wolf Creek.  The Wolf Creek Falls is a long cascade made up of 4 waterfalls plunging 225 feet.  Three of the waterfalls can been seen from the upper trail, but the final and most spectacular cascade can only be seen from the river.  

Lower Wolf Creek Falls
Photo Credit: Mike Radomski

Adventure Calls Outfitter’s rafting trips hike up to the final cascade when conditions permit.  At the base of the falls, is “the leap of faith”, a 6-7 foot deep hole inside the fall’s grotto where guests leap through the waterfall into the pool that is often above their heads.

NYS is blessed with many spectacular waterfalls from Niagara Falls to Taughannock Falls to Kaaterskill Falls, over 3200 have been documented.  The abundance of waterfalls has created opportunities for people to document them.  There are a several great websites and books that document the falls.  DigTheFalls is the best place to start.  They have an interactive map of the known NYS falls.  DigTheFalls also sponsors the NYS Waterfalls Challenge.

One of the best resources for Letchworth State Park Falls is FalzGuy.com.  Much of his work is referenced in this article as well as the previously mention websites. FalzGuy.com has a wealth of the information on Letchworth State Park waterfalls. He has documented GPS locations, best places to view each falls, maps and descriptions. I have summarized his waterfalls listings in the table below. FalzGuy.com also offers book called A Waterfall Guide To Letchworth State Park.

If you are into maps like I am, you can create your own custom Letchworth State Park waterfall map using this custom Caltopo map I created for this article. You can import the GPX file of the Letchworth Falls into your GPS device and create your own custom adventure.   Maps of the park can be found at NYS Parks online.

Although you can see most of Letchworth’s “minor” falls from trails in the park, one of the best ways to see the Stepsisters Falls and Wolf Creek Falls is from the gorge on whitewater rafting trips with Adventure Calls Outfitters

Adventure Calls Rafting Trip
Photo Credit: Mike Radomski

A special thanks to Keith Walters Photography.

Keith provided amazing photos for this article. He is extremely talented and has captured many spectacular photos of Letchworth State Park and other landscapes. All are available for print on his website. You can follow his work at:

Amazing Swirls
Photo Credit: Keith Walters Photography

NameHeight (ft)Best Place to View FromGPS Location
Abutment Falls50The west side of Letchworth State Park. Abutment Falls is one of the four St. Helena Falls and is best seen from the bank of the Genesee River.42.62023, -77.98656
Canoe Shower Falls40
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Canoe Shower Falls is one of the four St. Helena Falls and is best seen from the bank of the Genesee River.42.61496, -77.98925
Cinderella Cascade500The west side of Letchworth State Park. Cinderella Cascade can be seen best by looking to the southwest from the Great Bend Overlook, and also from the Gorge Trail (1), just north of the Archery Field Overlook, and at a much greater distance from two overlooks on the Lower Falls Road.42.60299, -78.03202
Crapsey Clay Falls200The west side of Letchworth State Park. Crapsey Clay Falls can be seen from the Highbanks Trail (20), south of the Highbanks Recreation Area.42.72499, -77.92666
Crucifix Cascade70
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Crucifix Cascade is one of the four St. Helena Falls and is best seen from the bank of the Genesee River.42.61733, -77.98727
Deer Run Cascade42.7172, -77.8951
Deh-ge-wa-nus Falls14
The east side of Letchworth State Park. Deh-ge-wa-nus Falls can be seen best from the east side of the park on the Genesee Valley Canal Trail (7), a short distance north of the Erie Railroad High Bridge.42.57872, -78.04898
Deh-ga-ya-soh Falls150
The east side of Letchworth State Park. Deh-ga-ya-soh Falls is best seen from the Genesee Valley Canal Trail (7), on the east side of the park. The best viewing area is roughly 0.3 mile northeast of the Middle Falls.42.58570, -78.04027
Denton Brook Cascade500
The west side of Letchworth State Park. The top portion of Denton Brook Cascade may be seen from the Gorge Trail (1), a short distance north of the Archery Field Overlook.42.60018, -78.03109
Detour Cliff Cascade110The west side of Letchworth State Park. Detour Cliff Cascade be seen from the Smokey Hollow Overlook, which is located on the park road, two miles south of the Perry entrance. The cascade is best seen from the Smokey Hollow Trail (15), about 0.75 mile east of the overlook. 42.66590, -77.95532
Eldest Stepsister Cascade500
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Eldest Stepsister Cascade can be seen best by looking to the southwest from the Great Bend Overlook, and also from the Gorge Trail (1), just north of the Archery Field Overlook, and at a much greater distance from two overlooks on the Lower Falls Road.42.60403, -78.03153
Highbank Falls42.74111, -77.88929
Horsetail Falls130
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Horsetail Falls can be seen from the Smokey Hollow Overlook, which is located on the park road, two miles south of the Perry entrance. The cascade is best seen from the Smokey Hollow Trail (15), about 1 mile east of the overlook.42.66705, -77.95327
Inspiration Falls350
The east side of Letchworth State Park. Inspiration Falls can be seen from the Gorge Trail (1) near the road to the Trout Pond, but it is best seen from the Genesee Valley Canal Trail (7) on the east side of the park, about 800 feet west of the East Park Road.42.58806, -78.03468
Lower Letchworth Falls70
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Lower Letchworth Falls can be seen from the Foot Bridge Trail (6A) near the Octagon Area parking lot.42.58537, -78.02103
Middle Letchworth Falls107
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Middle Letchworth Falls can be seen from the Glen Iris Inn and the Gorge Trail (1) just below the Inn.42.58294, -78.04242
Papermill Falls49
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Papermill Falls can be seen along the Gibsonville Trail (19), roughly 1,200 feet east of the west Park Road.42.70428, -77.93346
Paul Rock Cascade35
The east side of Letchworth State Park. Paul Rock Cascade can be seen along the Foot Bridge Trail (6A), roughly 600 feet west of the East Park Road.42.58563, -78.01280
Sawmill Chute13
The west side of Letchworth State Park.Sawmill Chute can be seen along the Gibsonville Trail (19), roughly 125 feet east of the West Park Road.42.70149, -77.93907
Shadow Cascade14
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Shadow Cascade can be seen from the Gorge Trail (1), just southwest of a small overlook at the crest of the Upper Falls.42.57886, -78.04917
Stepmother Cascade470
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Stepmother Cascade can be seen best by looking to the southwest from the Great Bend Overlook, and also from the Gorge Trail (1), just north of the Archery Field Overlook, and at a much greater distance from two overlooks on the Lower Falls Road.42.60541, -78.03034
Timber Tunnel39
The east side of Letchworth State Park. Timber Tunnel is a cascade that can best be seen from the Genesee Valley Canal Trail (7) which is located on the east side of the park. The viewing area is located about 0.7 mile west of Route 436 and about 0.2 mile south of the Erie Railroad High Bridge.42.57488, -78.05168
Upper Letchworth Falls70
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Upper Letchworth Falls can be seen by walking 0.3 mile to the southwest on the Gorge Trail (1), from the southernmost Falls Area parking lot.42.57844, -78.04874
Waterline Cascade10
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Waterline Cascade can be seen by walking roughly 200 feet to the northwest of the Kisil Point Trail (18).42.70099, -77.93826
Waterline Falls19
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Waterline Cascade can be seen by walking roughly 150 feet to the south of the Gibsonville Trail (19).42.70118, -77.93817
Wee Water Willy117
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Wee Water Willy can be seen from an overlook found on the Gorge Trail (1), at the crest of the Middle Falls.42.58355, -78.04252
Wolf Creek Cascade225
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Located just west of the Wolf Creek picnic area Wolf Creek Cascade can be seen from the Gorge Trail (1).42.61455, -78.01170
Wriggling Waters60
The west side of Letchworth State Park. Wriggling Waters is one of the four St. Helena Falls and is best seen from the bank of the Genesee River.42.61828, -77.98700
Youngest Stepsister Cascade500The west side of Letchworth State Park. Youngest Stepsister Cascade can be seen best by looking to the southwest from the Great Bend Overlook, and also from the Gorge Trail (1), just north of the Archery Field Overlook, and at a much greater distance from two overlooks on the Lower Falls Road.
42.60356, -78.03181

Table source: http://falzguy.com/letchworth-wf-tabel.html

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