Middle Falls of the Genesee River (Letchworth)

Letchworth State Park / Castile / Portageville, New York, USA

About Middle Falls of the Genesee River (Letchworth)


Hiking Distance: almost roadside; wheelchair
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2007-06-18
Date last visited: 2013-10-15

Waterfall Latitude: 42.58291
Waterfall Longitude: -78.04258

The Middle Falls of the Genesee River was definitely our favorite of the three major waterfalls on the Genesee River in Letchworth State Park as it was easily the largest and most spectacular of them all.

It could very well be our favorite waterfall in the state of New York not named Niagara Falls.

Letchworth_SP_13_144_10152013 - Middle Falls of the Genesee River in Letchworth State Park
Middle Falls of the Genesee River in Letchworth State Park

From looking at the photo above, it shouldn’t be surprising why we thought so highly of it.

The falls has been said to be 107ft in height, but it also seemed to be a bit wider than it was tall, making Julie partial to this one.

We were able to view this falls from a variety of vantage points all accessible on very easy paved walking paths that were a short distance from the car park (see directions below).

There was even a top down vantage point from a lookout right in front of the historical-looking Glen Iris Inn.

The Grand Canyon of the East

The Middle Falls comprised the lower drop of the nearly back-to-back series of waterfalls with the Upper Falls.

Letchworth_SP_13_158_10152013 - This was the view of both the Upper and Middle Falls of the Genesee River from Inspiration Point
This was the view of both the Upper and Middle Falls of the Genesee River from Inspiration Point

The depth of the canyon here kind of gave it the rugged appearance as the Genesee River carved into this part of the “Grand Canyon of the East” that was also known as Portage Canyon.

We were able to appreciate the overall canyon as well as both waterfalls from Inspiration Point, which was a well-established lookout at a separate car park from the Upper and Middle Falls.

Experiencing the Middle Falls of the Genesee River

The extensive network of walkways around the falls allowed us to photograph and enjoy it from plenty of different vantage points.

We started off by visiting its brink, then we walked further downstream along the gorge allowing us to get even more views of the falls from various angles.

There was also the closest frontal view of the falls where we could best appreciate the breadth of the wall of water while also getting a little bit of its spray.

Letchworth_074_06182007 - The Middle Falls of the Genesee River as seen on a muggy Summer's day back in 2007
The Middle Falls of the Genesee River as seen on a muggy Summer’s day back in 2007

Finally, there was a path crossing the driveways then going up stairs towards the Glen Iris Inn, which appeared to be bustling with activity during our latest visit in October 2013.

More about the Middle Falls of the Genesee River

Because this falls also had some character to its wide drop, it was the right kind of waterfall to bring a tripod along and try to take those long exposure photographs (many of which were featured on this page).

Of course, if the tripod proved to be too inconvenient, the concrete barricates also could have served as makeshift tripods to steady the camera and take those long exposed silky shots.

Indeed, options were plenty and the hour or so we spent at this falls (as well as the Upper Falls just a few minutes walk further upstream) reminded us why this place was worth the repeat visit.

Finally, the falls was said to be known as “Ska-ga-dee” by the local Native Americans (particularly the Seneca tribe).

Letchworth_SP_13_124_10152013 - The same view of the Middle Falls of the Genesee River in Letchworth State Park as above except this was during the Autumn of 2013
The same view of the Middle Falls of the Genesee River in Letchworth State Park as above except this was during the Autumn of 2013

I also read in the literature that they actually light up these falls at night from May to October though we never stuck around late enough in the day to see this for ourselves.

Authorities

The Middle Falls of the Genesee River resides in Letchworth State Park near Mt Morris in Livingston County and Wyoming County, New York. It is administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Letchworth_SP_13_096_10152013 - Looking over the brink of the Middle Falls
Letchworth_SP_13_102_10152013 - As we walked further along the paved walkway, we could see more of the Middle Falls and the gorge it carved out for itself
Letchworth_SP_13_116_10152013 - Julie and Tahia on the wet walkway alongside the Middle Falls
Letchworth_015_jx_06182007 - Another angled look at the falls
Letchworth_051_06182007 - Angled view of the Middle Falls
Letchworth_049_06182007 - Angled but more frontal look at the falls
Letchworth_SP_13_117_10152013 - Julie and Tahia making their way down to the closest frontal view of Middle Falls
Letchworth_SP_13_129_10152013 - Looking back at the context of the walkways skirting the gorge besides the Middle Falls in Autumn 2013
Letchworth_087_06182007 - Contextual view of the waterfall and the walkway that goes alongside it
Letchworth_SP_13_137_10152013 - The Glen Iris Inn which also featured a lookout area for a more top down view of the Middle Falls
Letchworth_100_06182007 - A trio of ladies that decided to pose for me
Letchworth_SP_13_173_10152013 - The view of Middle Falls along with the vertical walls of the Portage Canyon as seen from Inspiration Point
Letchworth_SP_13_179_10152013 - The context of Inspiration Point Lookout

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See directions for Upper Falls of the Genesee River (Letchworth) for the way we went to at least get to Portageville near the Southern entrance of Letchworth State Park as well as to the town of Castile by the western entrance to the park using Ithaca and Buffalo, respectively, as starting points.

The car park for this waterfall was shared with the car park for the Upper Falls so both waterfalls could easily be visited on the same excursion. The directions to Inspiration Point was also given on the Upper Falls page.

To give you a sense of geographical context, Ithaca was 155 miles (over 2.5 hours drove southeast of Buffalo, 166 miles (about 3 hours drive) southwest of Albany, and 223 miles (over 4 hours drive) northwest of New York City.

Upstream to downstream sweep from the brink of the falls


Nearly 360 degree sweep of the falls from the most direct viewpoint


Looking at the scenery (including the falls) from the lookout in front of the Glen Iris Inn


Checking out both the Upper and Middle Falls of the Genesee River as well as the impressive gorge decorated with Autumn colors from Inspiration Point

Tagged with: letchworth, state park, livingston, wyoming county, castile, portageville, western new york, new york, finger lakes, waterfall



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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