The 9,000 square mile region of the Finger Lakes is known for breath-taking waterfalls, especially in Ithaca and Watkins Glen but who knew there were so many of them within a short drive from Syracuse, NY?
As the most eastern point of the Finger Lakes, the Greater Syracuse Area/Onondaga County shares similar features with the rest of the region, including sparkling waterfalls. Here is a list of waterfalls near Syracuse that you can use when you're ready for your next adventure.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for hiking and walking through the woods/water.
- Pack a camera or remember your phone.
- Don’t forget to share it on social using #VisitSyr
Accessibility: Walk over tree roots and through mud on a makeshift and narrow path of a hillside with a river running below it
Parking: Free; the lot holds about 8 cars or less
Waterfall Size: 90 ft.
Exploration: Walk the entire preserve and run into Angel Falls (62 ft.) and further along Skaneateles Lake
Area: Quiet area, near Skaneateles
Nearby Eats: Grab a glass of wine and a cheese plate at Anyela's
Additional Comments: There is a rope connected to two trees that takes you to the bottom of the falls for a better view. The most adventurous hikers may opt that route but proceed at your own risk. I met a very active couple chasing waterfalls across Upstate NY and they recommended buying a pair of hiking sticks as well.
Salmon River Falls
Difficulty: The Falls Trail: Easy
The Gorge Trail: Moderate (Closed until further notice)
The Riverbed Trail: Easy
Upper Falls Trail: Moderate
Accessibility: There is a 1,100 ft. wheelchair accessible trail. The shaded hard surface trail runs along the northern edge of a deep gorge with Salmon River below. There are handrails at the overlook and a guardrail along the edge of the trail.
Parking: Falls Road parking where there’s room for about 30 cars
Waterfall Size: 110 ft.
Exploration: 600 ft. Gorge Trail leads to the bottom of the gorge. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all trails.
Area: 112 acres of land open year-round
Nearby Eats: Check out Tailwater Lodge Restaurant and Bar in Altmar for seafood and comfort food favorites.
Additional Comments: The Iroquois frequented this area because the falls were the final hurdle for the huge runs of salmon swimming upriver from Lake Ontario. The salmon run is quite a sight to see ever fall! During winter, ice climbing is a popular event here. Rare species like the bird’s-eye primrose and the yellow mountain saxifrage grow here. Walk around the creek bed and see if you can find old engravings.
Three Falls Woods
Accessibility: The trails that are directly off Rt. 173 and Sweet Rd. are very short, easy and give you a quick view of the falls. Follow the trail from the parking area on Sweet Rd. and head south.
Parking: Small lot on Sweet Rd. There is also a pull-off on Rt 173, 0.5 miles east of the intersection
Waterfall Size: 70 ft.
Exploration: The area is best known for its limestone geology; a rocky and porous terrain where water flows over the bedrock and aquifers surge below. Be on the lookout for marine fossils and dozens of species of mosses and ferns.
Area: 60 acres of land and three waterfalls to explore
Nearby Eats: If you need a caffeine boost, go to Café Kubal. Looking for a gluten-free bite to eat? Try Bliss Bakehouse.
Additional Comments: This is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and walking. It’s categorized as kid-friendly and dogs are welcome. The flow of the falls are highly variable and very dependent on rainfall. The best time to go is in the spring or fall.
Location: Wolcott, NY (35 miles from Syracuse)
Accessibility: A viewing platform next to the parking area can be enjoyed by anyone, a well-worn 0.18 trail leads to Wolcott Creek and on to the base of Wolcott Falls
Parking: Free parking area off Mill Street at Wolcott Falls Park
Waterfall Size: 50 ft.
Exploration: Wolcott Falls
Nearby Eats: Grab a slice of pizza or a calzone at Peter’s New York Pizzeria
Additional Comments: The best view is at the base of the falls. It’s a short, 2-3 minute walk. The upper viewing area is accessible to everyone.
Chittenango Falls State Park
Location: Cazenovia, NY (21.1 miles from Syracuse)
Accessibility: Requires stairs, the park has overlook access that is a beautiful view from the top
Parking: Simple and pay to park (Mon-Fri- $3, Sat & Sun-$5)
Waterfall Size: 167 ft.
Exploration: Picnic areas, Playground, and hidden trails
Area: Check out downtown Cazenovia and Cazenovia Lake
Nearby Eats: Nosh on house smoked wings at Meier’s Creek Brewing Company
Additional Comments: Great for pictures because of the short hike and view from the bottom. Pet-friendly.
Fillmore Glen State Park (Cowshed Falls)
Accessibility: Easy to get to
Parking: simple and large lots (park in “Picnic Area”); pay to park ($7)
Waterfall Size: 37 ft.
Exploration: There are a total of 5 waterfalls in this park; Picnic areas, Swim in the lake during summer hours, Restrooms
Nearby Eats: Grab a local pizza in Moravia or get your fill of barbeque at 10-10 BBQ
Additional Comments: Park in the “picnic area” then walk the “Cowshed” trail for a short distance and reach a waterfall quickly. Dog friendly
Accessibility: not accessible
Parking: No parking available; view from a vehicle.
Waterfall Size: Good size with a beautiful combination of the house
Exploration: There is a stream called Nine Mile Creek that stretches below this sight which is great for fishing and dipping your feet in the water
Area: In-between Camillus and Marcellus, NY
Nearby Eats: Mix up your trail mix and satisfy your sweet tooth at Chocolate Pizza Company
Additional Comments: This is not a hike, but rather a sight that is fun to see from your car.
Pratts Falls Park
Location: Manlius, NY (15.3 miles from Syracuse)
Accessibility: Easy to get to (requires some stairs); there is also an overlook at the top of the falls that you can walk right up to
Parking: Very large parking space; pay to park ($2)
Waterfall Size: 137 ft.
Exploration: Picnic benches, Volleyball net, Restrooms, and Archery range
Area: Rural roads, so pack a sandwich or take a quick drive 2 miles up the road to enjoy another stellar view at Heritage Hill Brewhouse and Kitchen on Sweet Road
Additional Comments: Trail to waterfall was 0.6 miles; there were four other trails to choose from, ranging 1.2-2.6 miles long
Location: Truxton, NY (22 miles from Syracuse)
Accessibility: large, well-paved 0.20 path
Parking: free roadside parking across the street
Waterfall Size: 50 ft.
Exploration: Tinker Falls
Area: Near Tully; Check out The Sweet Basil, Ice cream shops, and coffee shops
Additional Comments: You can go behind the falls by taking the “Scenic Overlook” (2 mile) trail. Water flow of the falls is low, but still enjoyable. The falls are located within the Labrador Hollow Unique Area. Mobile service may be lost at the base of the falls.
Location: Cazenovia, NY (23 miles from Syracuse)
Accessibility: Handicap accessible stone dust path
Parking: Free parking lot
Waterfall Size: Lower Delphi Falls (65 ft.) and Upper Delphi Falls (52 ft.)
Exploration: Lower Delphi Falls, fishing, Limestone Creek
Area: Neighboring Cazenovia; take a quick drive up to Critz Farms and their Brewery & Cidery for a quick bite and to sample some of their farm-brewed beverages
Additional Comments: After being closed to the public for 50 years, the previously privately-owned, Delphi Falls opened to the public in August 2018 as a Madison County Park. The previous owner's residence remains on the property and Madison County has plans to build upon the property in the coming years, including expanding the trails to include upper Delphi Falls. Visitors can view the lower falls with just a quick .2-mile walk from the parking lot.