By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
They may not be Niagara Falls, but Central New York’s waterfalls offer pretty scenery closer to home.
In Cazenovia, Chittenango Falls State Park (315-637-6111) offers 194 acres of hiking (among five trails), fishing, picnicking space (including grills), and a 167-ft. waterfall. Since the falls are right off the highway, you won’t have to hike a distance to see them. But as long as you’re going, why not bring a picnic basket and watch birds, look for unusual plant life, and hike around for a while? The park also includes a playground for the children.
Canastota’s Oxbow Falls County Park (315-366-2376) boasts 125 acres of woods, streams and three waterfalls, including a 100-foot waterfall. Bring along the wide angle lens to capture panoramic shots, as the view ranges from Oneida Lake to Lake Ontario. Don’t forget your flying disc to play the park’s 18-hold disc golf course. The park also features a softball field.
Most people flock to Howes Cave to explore Howe’s Caverns; however, just down the road, the Secret Caverns (518-296-8558) features a more rustic spelunking adventure and a surprise at the end: a 100-foot, underground waterfall. The caves’ temperatures stay stable and cool on the hottest summer days, so take a break from the heat in Howes Cave.
Like Chittenango Falls State Park, Wolcott Falls Park in Wolcott (315-594-9501), features a waterfall close to the road (in fact, you may drive over the 50-foot waterfall without knowing it). The upper portion of the park includes an observation deck overlooking the falls, grills and picnic pavilion, and a small playground. Don’t miss the trailhead on the opposite side of the park. The short hiking path that winds through the woods to the base of the waterfall. There’s not much else to do in Wolcott Falls Park, but the village shopping district, a block from the park, includes dining and a few mom-and-pop shops to explore.
The Salmon River Falls in northern Oswego County is another option to view waterfalls. Salmon River Falls encompasse 112 acres of land. The 110-foot Salmon River Falls and the scenic gorge are the popular attractions.
Plan ahead for exploring area waterfalls. Since some parks book private events, call before you go to ensure access and hours. Most parks allow dogs if they’re on leashes less than six feet long, but ask first. Bring along your own trash bags in case you cannot find a trash receptacle so you can keep CNY parks clean.
For more waterfalls statewide, visit www.nyfalls.com.