Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

First Looks at Letchworth State Park

Sunday July 3, 2016                                                      Most Recent Posts
Letchworth State Park                                                  
Rained Out in Niagara & On to Letchworth
Perry, New York                                                           Boating and Hiking at Niagara Falls                             



As I mentioned yesterday, the campground is 9 miles or more to everything in the South end which is where the major falls, the Visitor Center, the Nature Center, the Restaurant and actually just about everything are.  Only the campground and the dam are in the north end and I’m not interested in the dam that controls the river.

So on our first full day at Letchworth we head to the visitor center.  Well sort of.  We’re almost at the Visitor Center when I see the sign for the Lower Falls.  This is what I’ve come for, the falls.  So we head down the road.

They tease you with a sign saying go straight for “Easy view of the Falls” OR go down here 127 steps for a view of the Lower Falls, Genesee river, flume, foot bridge.

Of course we’ll do both so we do the easy view first.  It really is a big teaser.



Yes it’s a lot of steps especially back up but they are fabulous steps.  The stone work of course was done in the 30’s by the CCC and the stones were all taken from the Genesee River.



Nice benches to stop and rest on the way back up.



We don’t need the rest but wanted the picture with this amazing stone work.




I just can’t imagine what these Lower Falls would look like in a non drought situation.  I take them from every angle and they look different and beautiful each time.






We walk further down to the only footbridge over the Genesee also built of course by the CCC.We cross over and I take this picture looking back at the Lower Falls from the other side.




Not being sure where the continuing trail on the other side goes, we turn around and come back to a different viewing point.  This is my favorite.






I can’t imagine a more perfect spot.




The rock ledge over which the water tumbles is obviously the inspiration for the stone work in the park. Imitating nature is always the best policy.



Time to climb the 127 back up.




When we crossed over the footbridge on the river by the lower falls, up the trail on the other side was Cathedral Rock but it was too close to get a good shot of and you are not allowed to climb it.  So back up on top we walk along the rim to get this view of both what is known as Table Rock on the right and Cathedral Rock on the left.






From there we walk on down through the Lower Falls picnic area headed for the Lee Landing Trail but we get side tracked on the way by this cute swing and a slide big enough for us. 


We go down several times and you really can’t help but throw your arms up.  Haven’t done this in ages.  Such fun!!




From there we walk over to the Lee’s Landing Trail head which is near the north corner of the Lower Falls picnic area parking lot.  The dirt road goes down the hill to river level.  We want to see the river up close  and person and perhaps I can put my feet in the water.  This is also the put in for the rafts and kayaks of the concessionaire.  Not sure yet if private kayaks can use the road or not.

At the bottom we take the first turn to the right and here we are, at the water and boy is it rocky.  If anyone launches a raft or a kayak in here, I don’t know how.  I suspect this put in has been abandoned due to the very low water conditions here.  I’m really sorry we are missing the river at its normal height.  Very pretty spot though.



Going back out to the road we go straight ahead and there they are, putting short little inflatables in the water.  There are 20 or so boats.  That wouldn’t be my idea of a good time on the river especially in water.   It really doesn’t look like we would want to take the chance of running into rocks with the water this low.  That’s disappointing.  I guess the outfitter must know what he’s doing but I prefer to return another time when the river is back to normal.



But we can still enjoy the river.  They are all headed down river so we turn and walk up river.  It is just wonderful walking along listening to the water babble.




The shore is rocky and the rocks are works of art themselves.


Our wildlife sighting for the day is this little cutie wandering around here  too.



The shore becomes even more rocky.  Pretty sure this is normally under water.  We think about turning back.



But just around the bend I find the perfect sitting spot.  David joins me and we soak our feet in the water.  It’s chilly at first but feels great after just a minute.  I think I could stay here for the rest of the day.


The afternoon is getting late so we walk back up the quiet river.  Even though it is July 4th week-end, we have the river all to ourselves here.  It’s marvelous!



On our way back up the road/trail I spot this Cabbage White.  It is an amazingly common butterfly.  I’ve seen it nearly every where I have been on the East Coast from Florida now to New York.   I love its subtle colors and the distinctive black dot.



At the top of the hill just across from the trail head is the CCC Statue.  We have seen them in many parks and I like to give them all a hug.  In the background you can see someone else enjoying our swing.




David wants to check out the park’s restaurants before we head back to fix our own dinner.  I think this is a risky proposition but it’s hard to disagree when the Lower Falls Restaurant is right across the road from the statue.  The restaurant comes complete with a giant black bear.  



Those who follow along know that I love black bears and actually have seen them often on my hikes.  It’s always a thrill.  This time I actually get to sit on his paw.






Inside we find a sweet little grille where they will prepare any of the two or three daily specials along with regular grille food – grilled cheese, philly steak and cheese, BLT, grilled chicken, turkey melt, veggie burger and all versions of hamburgers and hot dogs.  They have subs, wraps salads and sides.   They also sell Perry’s ice cream in at least half a dozen flavors.

We need to leave immediately.   Too late.   One of the specials for the day is a soft taco and of course David has to have one.  Turns out this is a large wrap not a taco at all.  It is really good.  We have a scoop of Perry’s ice cream for dessert and that is great too.  They have toasted coconut which isn’t JMC but it is coconut!


Inside the restaurant is a small camping store, well one isle really but it has a lot of things.  The other side of the isle is the gift shop with t-shirts, sweat shirts, hats, mugs and so on.

Also for sale here are some nice painted wood carvings.  They are made by the same artist who did the art on the tables in the restaurant.




My favorite is this bench.  What a lot of work went into it.  No price listed.



Before heading back to Winnona, David wants to see the other restaurant in the park, The Glen Iris Inn.  Since he’s just eaten, I figure this is fairly safe.  The Inn is the former home of William Pryor Letchworth who donated 1000 acres of land including this home and all three waterfalls in order to be assured it would be protected and not developed upon his death.  He deeded his land with the provision that the plans for a dam at the southern end of the canyon would be halted.  They were.




But later the park was actually increased in size in order to build the Mount Morris dam at the North end of the canyon.  I do not imagine Mr. Letchworth would be pleased to see the river dammed at either end either.  So often it is the letter of the law and not the spirit that determines the actions.

The home was built in the 1830’s and has been added to and remodeled since then.  It first served as the Administrative Offices for the new park and is now an Inn with a restaurant and gift shop

David checks out the menu, I look at the stairs leading up to the Inn’s rooms.  He wants to return for breakfast.  I want to return to spend much more time enjoying Mr. Letchworth’s view.



These are the Middle Falls, the view from the front yard of the Glen Iris Inn.  Maybe tomorrow.  We have eight days to explore this park further. 




  1. It's really pretty. Is it shale stone? Looks like your having a great time.
    I am surprised too they had all those little boats in the water. That must be why no one was moving around. We use to go tubing in the creeks around here. How hot and humid is it?
    Enjoying the pictures! Cindy

  2. Nice ... this is something we haven't done yet, so it will give us something to do should we find ourselves back in the area someday.

  3. What gorgeous falls! Somehow I had no idea that the northeast was also in a drought situation. I'll go research that a bit. Naturally, being out west, the western drought is foremost on my mind. I love this park, Sherry, in spite of the distance from the campground to the good stuff. I only have to read about it rather than try to get from there to there. :)

  4. That's a beautiful area. I agree, those rocks are indeed works of art. I love rocks and always have my eye out for them.

  5. What a beautiful park. I lived in NY for almost 20 years, but never made it to that state park.

  6. It is such a beautiful area. The CCC really made things to last.

  7. Our family camped at Letchworth many years ago but I don't remember the falls. Very impressive!

  8. Great post...I think the butterfly should be named...Paper White,.

  9. Oh what wonderful memories you brought back to us. We did get to see all those sites with heavy flood waters running over them...AMAZING!! Can't figure out how we missed that wonderful SLIDE:o)))

  10. In the history of our country I don't think there has ever been, or ever will be, a better idea for dealing with unemployment than the CCC. It put young men to work and sent most of their salary to their families - what an idea!

  11. Great picture of you both on the swing, love slides..the bigger the better. Think I need to take Dave to Letchworth next time we are through NY. Looks like a wonderful holiday weekend day.

  12. After all the hugging you do, it's nice to see you getting hugged (by that black bear) in return! :c)

  13. The falls are so pretty - glad you shared so many wonderful shots. Great pic of you two in front of the rock wall, where I would definitely need a rest! Love that you had the river side to yourselves on a holiday weekend. Love the big bear and the beautiful art in the restaurant. The craftsmanship of the stairway would have me wanting to climb up to see what else there might be :-)))

  14. What lovely rock formations, and of course the CCC's wonderful work on the bridge and stone walls. You look right at home on the bear :)

  15. I was quite surprised there were really no serious crowds here for the holiday weekend. I was pleased the weather was good for us getting out to hike - at least if we could get out early enough. We did see more people after 10 AM and by afternoon, even more, but usually we were able to avoid the crowds by starting early and taking trails longer than a short walk from the parking lots. I loved the falls too and the history of the park.

  16. Oh WOW! The 'Grand Canyon of the East' was on our list, too. But we were kidnapped and forced to hike Watkins Glen - so recommend! We'll need another trip to the region to enjoy your recommendations.

  17. We just drove over and hiked the whole trail in one day which wasn't bad. But...there are a total of 1,082 step on the whole route to see all the falls!! I couldn't resist counting them as we went up and down:) Must be an elementary teacher thing:) Make sure you check out the museum. We really enjoyed it.

  18. Gorgeous stair-step falls, and rock CCC stairs also. Love to see you two kids at play.

  19. What a wonderous place. You and Dave find the greatest places to visit. CCC seems to have had the most experienced workers.

  20. Wow, what a beautiful park. We did not know or did not research much while we were in the area back in 2013. Perhaps a return trip is on order.
    So glad you were able to sit by the black bears paw, and yes you are quite lucky to see a bunch of them in your hikes.
    Those CCC boys were really amazing, too bad they are not brought back to do some work.
    Love it when you slide down, you guys really know how to have fun and enjoy being a kid again for a moment.

  21. I love that you went down that big slide! We all need to incorporate more "play" into our lives, so glad to see you both doing your part. I rarely pass up a swing, but I am not sure my posterior end would have made it down that narrow chute!

  22. Such a beautiful park and falls—even with the drought. I didn't realize that there's such a dire lack of water in the East. You guys look like you're having a blast (as always). Love the photos of you with the bear and both of you sliding down that very cool long slide! The rock work and steps are beautiful—but the steps look like they're really deep—you know, those kind where you have to take two steps for every stair step. (Does that make sense?)

  23. Wow, all that stonework and the rocks that have been worn and sculpted by the water - lovely. I love that you were able to sit for a while with your feet in the water too, and to play on the playground!!

  24. It's amazing how many beautiful places there are in upstate New York. Never heard of Letchworth - what a treasure. Thanks for sharing

  25. Love that artwork on the tables. Doesn't take much to make our world more beautiful, does it?

  26. Great pictures of you guys on the swing and by that amazing stonework that really does mirror nature. The slide looked very fun! I think my favorite picture though was you sitting in the arm of that HUGE bear :) Great views at that park and very pretty stones where I bet the water runs when there isn't a drought.


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!