Best Finger Lake Waterfalls

15 Best Waterfalls in Finger Lakes, NY – Don’t Miss No. 8!

Looking for the most incredible waterfalls in the Finger Lakes, NY? In this guide, guest blogger Polly Clover shares 15 of the best waterfalls in Finger Lakes plus everything you need to know about visiting.

The Finger Lakes is one of my favourite places to visit on a New York to Florida road trip. In fact, this central New York region is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to.

Whenever I plan a New York itinerary, I always schedule extra time for the Finger Lakes. Filled with outdoor adventure, unforgettable hikes, and more waterfalls in one area than I’ve ever seen, it’s a true nature’s paradise.

From iconic state park falls to magical waterfalls off the beaten path, it’s easy to get lost chasing waterfalls around the Finger Lakes. But they’re not all worth visiting. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of those that shouldn’t be missed.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Finger Lakes waterfalls, including when to go, entrance fees, and insider tips. I’ll also tell you the best way to take yourself on a tour of all the Finger Lakes falls.

Let’s get to it and check out the best waterfalls in Finger Lakes!

Taughannock Waterfall
Don't miss number 8!

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Tips for Visiting the Finger Lakes Waterfalls

Before we get started, here are a few tips that might help you plan your waterfall adventures!

Best Time to Visit Finger Lakes Falls

When I visited the Finger Lakes, I went in the fall, and it was incredible! The weather and fall foliage were gorgeous, and it wasn’t too crowded.

Late spring is also a great time to visit the best waterfalls in Finger Lakes. It’s right after the busy season, and spring rain brings cascading waterfalls.

I also recommend giving yourself enough time to explore the falls and get back before dark. Many of the above waterfalls have slippery trails and cliffs that wouldn’t be safe for adventuring at night.

Tip – Some waterfall trails close during late fall to early spring. If the falls are in a park, you can always go to their website or call to make sure you can visit. Be sure to wear shoes that allow you to comfortably hike in the snow, too!

finger lakes waterfall trails

Where to Stay in the Finger Lakes, NY

It’s easy to want to stay in this memorable part of New York for as long as possible as there’s so much to see and do! Thankfully, there are tons of places to stay.

You can find countless hotels, vacation rentals, and campgrounds to fit your needs. I was in my self-converted campervan when I visited, so I primarily utilised various campsites.

Here are some accommodation options in the Finger Lakes:

You can also check out many other accommodation options in Finger Lakes here. Or use the Map below to see all your options​:

Booking.com

What to Pack for Visiting Finger Lakes Waterfalls

For the ultimate waterfall escapade, here are some recommended must-haves:

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15 Best Waterfalls in Finger Lakes, NY

From quick stops and swimming holes to adventurous hikes and giant falls, you’re in for a treat in this waterfall paradise! 

Below, you’ll find all the details you need to visit each waterfall. If you’d prefer a quick list, here you go:

  1. Ithaca Falls
  2. Hector Falls
  3. Shequaga Falls
  4. Carpenter Falls
  5. Eagle’s Cliff Falls
  6. Watkins Glen State Park (Rainbow Falls)
  7. Deckertown Falls
  8. Taughannock Falls
  9. Aunt Sarah’s Falls
  10. Wells Falls
  11. Buttermilk Falls
  12. Triphammer Falls
  13. Lucifer Falls
  14. Conklin’s Gully
  15. Grimes Glen Park
Ithaca Waterfalls in Finger Lakes

1. Ithaca Falls

This was the first waterfall I saw when I visited the Finger Lakes, and it didn’t disappoint. While Ithaca Falls is conveniently located near the lively downtown area, it offers a bit of a secluded vibe. 

To get to the 150-foot cascading waterfall, all you have to do is take a short walk from the parking area, making it accessible for most people.

Although parking is limited, you can usually find a spot pretty quickly since this is one of the lesser frequented falls.

Swimming isn’t allowed at Ithaca Falls, but people enjoy fishing and picnicking here. And, of course, it makes for a gorgeous backdrop for taking photos.

  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Hours: 24 hours
  • How Much Time: 15 minutes to an hour
  • Pets: leashed pets are allowed
Hector Waterfall Finger Lakes, NY

2. Hector Falls

Hector Falls is located on the east of Seneca Lake, about 5 minutes from downtown Watkins Glen. This popular, gigantic waterfall is actually a series of cascading drops into Seneca Lake.

It’s a quick stop, roadside waterfall you can also see from across the lake.

Parking to get to Hector Falls is along the shoulder of Route 414 before and after the falls. There’s room for several cars, but there’s usually a place to park as most people don’t stay here long.

If you’re up for an adventure, you can also climb down under the bridge to get to the base of Hector Falls. Most visitors don’t do this, but I’m always up for a unique experience.

Just make sure you wear appropriate shoes and take somebody with you.

  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Hours: 24 hours
  • How Much Time: 5 to 45 minutes
  • Pets: may not be safe due to the busy highway
Shequaga Falls Finger Lakes

3. Shequaga Falls

Just below Seneca Lake is Shequaga Falls, another massive, gorgeous waterfall. You can also see this one from Route 414, but I definitely suggest driving closer to park up and visit the falls.

Often, GPS will take you to the top of the falls. However, you can park at Chequaga Falls Park and take a 5-minute walk to Shequaga Falls.

The park has a grassy area and benches perfect for relaxing or having a picnic. Also, whereas many Finger Lakes waterfalls are seasonal, Shequaga Falls are constantly flowing. 

  • Entrance Fee: Free
  • Hours: year-round, dawn to dusk
  • How Much Time: 15 minutes to an hour
  • Pets: leashed pets are allowed
Carpenter Falls
Don't miss Carpenter Waterfall in the Finger Lakes!

4. Carpenter Falls

At the far eastern side of the Finger Lakes is Carpenter Falls, a 90-foot waterfall flowing from a limestone overhang. 

If you’re looking for a Finger Lakes waterfall with gorges, this one is a must-visit! There are 3 other smaller waterfalls to explore as well.

To get to Carpenter Falls, you’ll park in the parking area just off the side of the road. There are only a few spots, but it’s common for visitors to also park along the road. 

From there, you can walk for about 10 minutes to the top of the falls. Or alternatively, head down the gorge to the lake for more views and to play in the water.

While swimming isn’t technically allowed, the refreshing pools are hard to resist, and many people enjoy taking a dip once they reach the bottom.

  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Hours: 24 hours
  • How Much Time: 10 minutes to an hour
  • Pets: Leashed pets are allowed; I recommend bringing only agile pets.
Eagle Cliff Falls

5. Eagle’s Cliff Falls

Eagle’s Cliff Falls is in a picturesque town park that offers tons of recreation, including playgrounds, a campground, nature trails, and various waterfalls.

Eagle’s Cliff is the main waterfall, accompanied by several other smaller ones.

To get to the waterfall, you’ll park in a lot near the trailhead or somewhere along the park loop. Then, you’ll take the Havana Glen Trail to the falls.

The trail is less than half a mile, but there are a couple of sets of stairs to get to the waterfall’s base.

This is one of my favourite Finger Lakes waterfall trails to enjoy nature and take many beautiful photos.

The trail is surrounded by wildlife and the sounds of the falls, offering a fantastic sense of tranquillity.

At the base of the waterfall, there are signs that prohibit swimming. However, you can wade in the water to cool off.

  • Entrance Fee: $2
  • Hours: mid-May through mid-October, dawn to dusk
  • How Much Time: 30 minutes to a couple of hours
  • Pets: allowed in the park but not on the trail
Rainbow Falls

6. Watkins Glen State Park (Rainbow Falls)

Watkins Glen State Park is the spot to enjoy many of the best waterfalls in Finger Lakes in one place. One of the most iconic state parks in the area, the park boasts 19 incredible waterfalls.

This is a nature lover’s paradise with rushing waterfalls, massive cliffs, and a gorge surrounded by forests!

With so many waterfalls, deciding which ones to check out can be challenging. So, if possible, spend the entire day here and visit them all.

In the park, you can find 3 trails to explore the falls. I recommend hiking Glen Creek Gorge Trail to see the most waterfalls, plus it’s not as long as the other trails.

This popular Finger Lakes hiking trail is a mile and a half out and back and takes you to see over a dozen falls, including the iconic Rainbow Falls.

The Watkins Glen State Park trails are pretty easy but have steep stairs. For a shorter, more leisurely trip, you can go just a portion of the way and turn around.

There are 3 parking areas, but the main lot is best if you plan to take the Gorge Trail. There are also shuttles from the parking lots to the trails.

I recommend visiting during spring or fall and in the week. Weekends at the park can get very crowded. The Gorge Trail is closed during the winter.

  • Entrance Fee: $8
  • Hours: the park is open year-round dawn to dusk; check here for updated trail closures as some aren’t open between late fall and early spring
  • How Much Time: 1 to 4 hours
  • Pets: pets aren’t permitted on trails to the falls
Deckertown Falls Finger Lakes

7. Deckertown Falls

Also below Seneca Lake is Deckertown Falls. I especially like this one because it’s more of a hidden gem while still being close to others nearby.

Deckertown Falls is tucked in a residential neighbourhood and can be a quick or a more extended stop.

This combo of waterfalls offers several to see with easy accessibility just off the parking lot. There are a few more falls if you’re up for a journey upstream.

Although the hike to Deckertown Falls is short, there are steep cliffs. The water at the base of the falls is also not safe for swimming. 

But be sure to take lots of pictures because the entire area is one of the most Instagram-worthy on this list!

  • Entrance Fee: Free
  • Hours: 24 hours; I recommend visiting during daylight
  • How Much Time: 5 minutes to 2 hours
  • Pets: not safe for pets to explore
Taughannock Waterfall
Taughannock is one of my favourite waterfalls in Finger Lakes!

8. Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls is situated on the west side of Cayuga Lake in the Taughannock Falls State Park, and it’s easily one of the best waterfalls in Finger Lakes.

It plunges more than 200 feet past rugged cliffs almost 400 feet above the gorge. You get jaw-dropping views of the falls from both the gorge and the park trails.

If you take the Gorge Trail, it’s a short hike on a flat trail about a mile long. This is also one of the most kid-friendly accessible hiking trails.

There’s plenty of parking at the northeast end of the trail for easy access, too.

While you can’t swim in the rocky area at the bottom of the falls, it’s cool to check out the rock formations. There’s also a lake and park area to hang out at and a perfect spot to go for a swim.

  • Entrance Fee: $7
  • Hours: every day, dawn to dusk
  • How Much Time: 45 minutes to 2 hours
  • Pets: leashed pets are welcome

9. Aunt Sarah's Falls

Although Aunt Sarah’s Falls flows over several hundred feet from the top of the gorge, it’s easy to miss and is a bit of a hidden gem.

The top of the massive waterfall isn’t visible; however, the bottom is stunning and well worth seeing.  

To find Aunt Sarah’s Falls, you’ll take Route 14 (the main road on the west side of Seneca Lake). It’s just a few minutes before you get to Watkins Glen State Park. Using your GPS, look for the small parking area opposite the road from the falls.

The bottom of the falls is just a short walk from the parking area. It’s easy to make a quick stop here, but I like to walk to the bottom and splash around in the water. 

It’s also fascinating to get up close and see the uncommon thin ribbon fall that fans out into a more expansive fall.

  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Hours: 24 hours
  • How Much Time: 10 to 30 minutes
  • Pets: yes

10. Wells Falls

I think Wells Falls, located in Ithaca, was one of the most unique Finger Lakes waterfalls I visited. Honestly, it looks like something out of a storybook or a movie!

There’s an abandoned building next to it, giving an industrial vibe. And the waterfall is also covered in ivy and surrounded by towering trees.

Parking for Wells Falls is just across the street at the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve. Once you cross over Giles Street, there are two paths to the waterfall.

The path on the left quickly takes you to the bottom of the falls. While the one on the right will take you up to the top.

Swimming isn’t allowed at Wells Falls; however, you usually find some people in the water anyway.

  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Hours: 6 AM – 8:30 PM daily (open until 9 PM on Friday)
  • How Much Time: 15 minutes to an hour
  • Pets: Leashed pets are welcome
Buttermilk Waterfall Finger Lakes

11. Buttermilk Falls

Also in Ithaca, Buttermilk Falls is one of the best Finger Lakes waterfalls for swimming.

There are actually signs that say ‘no swimming’; however, when I was there, there were plenty of people taking a dip. A couple of locals also told me it was the best spot to take a swim.

Whether you decide to go for a swim or not, Buttermilk Falls is magical. Thousands of people visit this cascading, 165-foot fall found in Buttermilk Falls State Park.

The falls flow alongside a uniquely shaped rock formation, creating a mesmerising fall that twists and turns.

On the mile-and-a-half hike to Buttermilk Falls from the Gorge Trail, you’ll also see other waterfalls. The main fall is next to the North parking lot, accessible from the Gorge Trail.

  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Hours: 8 AM – 7:30 PM daily
  • How Much Time: 20 minutes to a couple of hours
  • Pets: pets are allowed in some areas of the park, but not in the swimming area or on the Gorge Trail
Triphammer Waterfall NY

12. Triphammer Falls

One of my favourite activities in Ithaca was visiting Cornell University, where you’ll find Triphammer Falls. The entire campus is picture-perfect, and this 55-foot waterfall is no exception.

Several easy-to-walk trails around campus take you to the falls as you pass gardens, a lake, and other scenic landscapes. You can also get a photo-worthy look at the falls from the bridge above the gorge.

To park on campus, you have to pay for a daily pass. Different parking areas cost different prices. I parked near the Botanic Gardens, where there’s metered parking for $1.50 per hour.

  • Entrance Fee: varies; free after 5 PM
  • Hours: daily from dawn to dusk
  • How Much Time: 10 minutes to an hour
  • Pets: leashed pets are allowed
Lucifer Waterfall Finger Lakes New York

13. Lucifer Falls

Lucifer Falls is another impressive waterfall that drops from a gorge into a large pool that’s great for swimming.

The falls are found in Robert H. Truman State Park, with various trails to get to them. Drive closer to the waterfall for a shorter hike or park further away for a more extended adventure.

• The Gorge Trail (~5 miles roundtrip)
• The Rim Trail (about 5 miles roundtrip)
• The Red Pine Trail (about 1-mile round trip)

This is one of the best ones on our list if you’re looking for a relaxing experience with a peaceful trail and endpoint.

You can also take a swim once you arrive at the base of the falls. There’s even a diving platform for thrill-seekers.

  • Entrance Fee: $7
  • Hours: mid-spring to late fall, dawn to dusk (check updated hours here)
  • How Much Time: 1 to 3 hours
  • Pets: leashed pets are welcome

14. Conklin’s Gully

If you’re a hiker looking to chase waterfalls, you’ll love Conklin’s Gully!

This hiking area is just below Canandaigua Lake and takes you on a journey to see 5 large waterfalls and several smaller ones.

The Conklin’s Gully hike is about 3.5 miles and offers a well-worth-it challenge. If you’re up for a wild but fun adventure, climb the gorge at the end of the trail.

Some people also enjoy mountain biking this trail to see the falls.

Be sure to wear waterproof hiking shoes for this one! Some parts of the trail are rather wet and slippery. 

  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Hours: 24 hours
  • How Much Time: a couple of hours
  • Pets: not safe for pets
Grimes Glen Park NY

15. Grimes Glen Park

For your final Finger Lakes waterfall, Grimes Glen Park is a little off the beaten path below Conklin’s Gully.

A short trail, under a mile and a half long, takes you on a moderately challenging adventure to see several waterfalls.

You’ll find a small parking area when you arrive at the park. However, since these falls aren’t as crowded as most others on our list, it’s usually easy to find a spot. There are also restrooms in the parking lot.

Along the trail, you can observe wildlife and flora. You can play around in the swimming hole at the second fall, so don’t forget your swimsuit.

  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Hours: daily 6 AM until 9 PM
  • How Much Time: 30 minutes to an hour
  • Pets: leashed pets are welcome

Finger Lakes Waterfall Map

For an unforgettable adventure, take yourself on a tour to see all the best waterfalls in Finger Lakes! You can do this in 2 days if you’re up for a fun challenge.

Below, I’ll share the best way to do this in terms of the time each one takes and their distance from each other. If you only have 1 day, you can simply choose either one of the lists below:

Day 1

  • Carpenter Falls
  • Triphammer Falls
  • Ithaca Falls
  • Wells Falls
  • Buttermilk Falls
  • Lucifer Falls
  • Taughannock Falls


Day 2

  • Hector Falls
  • Watkins Glen State Park (Rainbow Falls)
  • Aunt Sarah’s Falls
  • Shequaga Falls
  • Deckertown Falls
  • Eagle’s Cliff Falls
  • Grimes Glen Park
  • Conklin’s Gully

Save Time and Book a Tour

For a more local experience, we recommend checking out the guided tours on Get Your Guide:

Enjoy these Best Waterfalls in Finger Lakes, NY

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the best waterfalls in the Finger Lakes, NY! While this gorgeous region boasts endless spectacular waterfalls, these 15 are the ones not to be missed!

We love hearing from you! If you have any questions or feel that we’ve missed anything, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can leave us a comment in the comment section.

Stay adventurous and Happy travels. 

Check out the rest of our New York articles in our East Coast USA Series to help you with your travel planning. 

If you enjoyed our free guide, you could support us by buying us a coffee! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, where we share more travel advice and inspiration. Charlotte & Natalie x

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We’re Charlotte & Natalie, a British lesbian couple with a passion for travel and adventure.

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