Three Western New York state parks in 3 days–Day one: Letchworth State Park

The upper falls of Letchworth State Park

A couple years back in the late fall we did a short trip to visit some of the state parks of Western New York. Because they are not far from our home in Toronto, it was only an hour to the border and then a few hours between each one.With one night staying in Bath and another night in Rochester, we took in three parks in three days.

Our first stop was Letchworth State Park, located about 56 kilometres (35 miles) southwest of Rochester and 97 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of Buffalo. With the rock walls of the gorge rising up to 170 metres (550 feet) in places, it is nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the East. Although Letchworth State Park might not be quite as grand as the original Grand Canyon (which we thoroughly enjoyed), it is an impressive sight for those visiting or living in the eastern side of the country.

Named after industrialist William Pryor Letchworth, the 1000-acre estate and land was bequeathed to the state of New York in 1906. It consists of three waterfalls on the Genesee River: the upper, middle and lower falls.

There was a nice spray coming off the upper falls

The route through most of parts the three falls is paved and easy to walk. The park is well maintained with easy access for parking. We went in November, so the fall colours made up for the wet, chilly weather.

We made our way down to the middle falls, where it was possible to get close once again.

The middle falls

The territory of the park was long part of the homeland of the Seneca people, who were largely forced out after the Revolutionary War as they had been allies of the British. The Seneca called the land around this canyon Seh-ga-hun-da, the “Vale of the three falls.” The Seneca named the middle falls Ska-ga-dee, and believed it to be so wondrous it made the sun stop at midday

The three falls of Letchworth
Looking back at the middle falls on the way to the lower falls

From the middle falls we walked down to the lower falls. You go right into the gorge to see these falls, and when we were there it was quite wet and muddy as the ground here was not completely paved.

The lower falls in the distance
Getting closer

After checking out the lower falls we made our way out again. The browns and yellows of the fall leaves as well as having fewer visitors in the park made up for the lack of sunshine and slightly chilly weather.

One last view of the Genesee River

Next up: Robert H. Treman State Park.

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