Upper Carpenter Falls

Skaneateles Lake, New York, USA

About Upper Carpenter Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.6 miles
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2007-06-15
Date last visited: 2007-06-15

Waterfall Latitude: 42.81187
Waterfall Longitude: -76.3433

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Upper Carpenter Falls (or just Carpenter Falls) was one of those waterfalls that let us go behind it (albeit unofficially in this case).

We visited this waterfall towards the end of the day during a long drive from Buffalo to Ithaca while visiting other waterfalls in the area.

Carpenter_Falls_017_06152007 - Upper Carpenter Falls
Upper Carpenter Falls

So I’m sure we could’ve explored the trails here a bit more thoroughly than we did.

However, we at least did what we had to in order to check out the pair of accessible waterfalls here with this one being the easier of the two (the other waterfall being Lower Carpenter Falls).

We had read that there were actually four waterfalls here though the two we missed out on were said to be much more difficult to access.

Accessing the Upper Carpenter Falls

Situated near the west bank of Skaneateles Lake, the 80ft falls was accessed via a narrow and somewhat rougher trail than most other Finger Lakes waterfall trails that we had done up to this point.

During our early Summer visit, the flow was already somewhat low so I’m pretty sure it would go dry by mid Summer or later.

Even with that said however, I have read that the falls can be quite powerful in Spring.

Carpenter_Falls_009_06152007 - Upper Carpenter Falls before doing the steep scramble to the base
Upper Carpenter Falls before doing the steep scramble to the base

Towards the end of the the 0.3-mile trail, we had to scramble down a steep path to get to the base of the falls.

During the steep scramble, I also noticed an interesting alcove and hole with water seeping through it and hugging the wall on its way down.

I’m not sure if this was natural or not, but it was quite cool nonetheless.

I don’t think the scramble was an official one so please be careful and take your time if decide to do it.


Upper Carpenter Falls resides in the Carpenter Falls Unique Area near Syracuse in Cayuga County, New York. It is administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Carpenter_Falls_020_06152007 - Interesting hole and alcove I noticed during the scramble
Carpenter_Falls_024_06152007 - Angled profile view of the falls
Carpenter_Falls_032_06152007 - Direct view of Upper Carpenter Falls
Carpenter_Falls_033_06152007 - Looking towards alcove with skylight in context

From Syracuse, head south on the I-81 then take the junction with state route 20 towards the town of Skaneateles on the northern tip of Lake Skaneateles. Just past the lake, turn left onto state highway 41A. Follow this road to Appletree Point Road to your left (after going east for around 20 miles). Turn left onto Appletree Point Road and look for a small car park where hopefully you can leave your car to do the hike (parking seemed limited, but there were certainly some spots over there for us as we arrived here pretty late in the day).

For context, Syracuse was 56 miles (over an hour drive) north of Ithaca, 153 miles (2.5 hours drive) east of Buffalo, and 247 miles (4.5 hours drive) northwest of New York City.

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Tagged with: skaneateles, cayuga, new york, finger lakes, western new york, waterfall, ithaca, syracuse, upstate, bahar

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning 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.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.