Saturday, October 12, 2013

Waterfalling at Letchworth State Park

Well, I did it! I can cross an item off my bucket list. My husband and I took a trip to Letchworth State Park a few days ago. I used my two personal days for the year, and it was completely worth it! We had the most perfect autumn days imaginable for our trip, and since we went in the middle of the week, it was pretty much just retired folk and us marveling at the spectacular scenery. And that is exactly why we decided to go during the week in the first place (along with the fact that my husband has a gig at a local farm every weekend during October).

Letchworth State Park is located near Rochester, New York and is touted as "The Grand Canyon of the East." I have been drooling over waterfall photos from Letchworth for decades and simply had to experience it for myself. And my basic philosophy these days is that there's no time like the present.

Make it happen.

Approximately 17 miles long, the park is located on 14,350 acres and boasts 66 miles of hiking trails. The south end of the park is where most of the activity is, including the three major waterfalls: Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls. We stopped first at a trail that led to the thunderous Lower Falls.


Then we got back in the car and made our way to a trail that went past Middle Falls and toward Upper Falls. Here is the view overlooking Middle Falls:


My favorite view of Middle Falls was at the top, where both the falling water and a rainbow poured into the gorge below. The colors were spectacular, especially at this time of year!


Here's a view of just the "rainbow falls."


Upper Falls was the next view that came into sight. There is a railroad trestle above the falls, and minutes before I took this picture, I saw a train pass over it.


The energy here was incredible! Lots of negative ions as the falling water pounded the ground, creating an immense, tall cloud of mist. It was a stunning sight, but the way it felt was perhaps even more extraordinary than the way it looked!

Here is a different image of the same waterfall, taken with a longer exposure. I love how the water looks like white light.


Recalling all the gorgeous images I've seen of the waterfalls in this park over the years, I was certain there was more than these three waterfalls - and that we just didn't know how to find them. However, when I did a Google images search later, I realized that every image I fell in love with - and that planted such a longing in me to go there myself - was essentially of the same three falls.

We were surprised we weren't able to get closer to the falls by walking on a trail down below. Having spent so much time walking through the gorges of Ithaca, I was accustomed to a more up close and intimate view of waterfalls. However, the sheer magnitude of it all is what is most compelling about Letchworth State Park. It truly is like a Grand Canyon, with the Genesee River roaring through.

Below is the view of the Middle and Upper Falls from Inspiration Point. You can get a sense for how high the mist extended from the Upper Falls.


It was so gratifying to finally go to the place I'd always dreamed about. After leaving the park, we drove to Ithaca for more waterfalling the next day. (I will write about that in my next post!) We had considered taking a route that would bring us past Watkins Glen State Park, which is also legendary for its waterfalls. However, we missed the turn, and it was getting late, anyway. Watkins Glen is close to Ithaca, and I remember driving by it on the way to my midwife appointments 20 years ago. However, I've never been there.

Needless to say, a new item has been added to my bucket list. I've penciled it in my planner for next fall - although I would have been up for another trip this weekend if my husband didn't have to work! (But it would be really crowded on the holiday weekend, anyway, right?)

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