Explore Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park is one of the most beautiful state parks in New York. Tucked in the Finger Lakes Region, the park encompasses 14,000 acres along the Genesee River Gorge. Go Out{side} ambassador Andy Crawford and his wife Yvette visited the park recently and put together this photo tour!

Explore
By Andy Crawford
Explore Ambassador

Letchworth State Park is one of the most beautiful state parks in New York. Tucked in the Finger Lakes Region, the park encompasses 14,000 acres along the Genesee River Gorge. Go Out{side} ambassador Andy Crawford and his wife Yvette visited the park recently and put together this photo tour!

Letchworth State park is a true jewel of New York’s Finger Lakes Region. Known as the Grand Canyon of the East, this deep chasm is home to numerous waterfalls with the Upper Falls being one of the major cascades. It was the first stop when we entered the park’s southern entrance, and we were awed by the size and rush of water.
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Letchworth State Park Upper Falls

Letchworth State park is a true jewel of New York’s Finger Lakes Region. Known as the Grand Canyon of the East, this deep chasm is home to numerous waterfalls with the Upper Falls being one of the major cascades. It was the first stop when we entered the park’s southern entrance, and we were awed by the size and rush of water.

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My wife Yvette accompanied me on this foray to explore the Genesee River Gorge that snakes through Letchworth State Park. The park really should be on any nature lover’s bucket list.

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Overlooks along the trail provide views of the beautiful gorge. The park’s Middle Falls, just downstream from the Upper Falls, can be seen up close and personal from this area.

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The only problem with the Middle Falls was getting an unobscured shot. The solution was setting up atop the narrow stone wall built by the Civilian Conservation Corps when the park was fully developed.

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Letchworth State Park Middle Falls

The payoff for working from the top of the wall is a gorgeous photo of the park’s tallest waterfall, over which the Genesee River tumbles more than 100 feet to a beautiful emeral pool below.

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The rush of water over Middle Falls creates a veil of mist that floats above the top of the yawning chasm.

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Light Through Sugar Maple Leaves

My wife Yvette noticed the misty view from the truck. As I looked, I saw how the rising sun backlit the leaves of a sugar maple. I used a long lens to create this almost abstract image.

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Letchworth State Park Inspiration Point

We moved on to the park’s Inspiration Point, which offers a panoramic view of the canyon cut by the Genesee River. From this overlook, you see the massive Middle Falls and the cool arched railroad bridge that spans the gorge.

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Letchworth State Park encompasses more than 14,000 acres and sprang from a 1,000-acre donation in 1906 by William Pryor Letchworth. His donation came with the stipulation that it be managed American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. This inscription by his niece Sarah Evans Letchworth pays homage to her uncle’s foresight.

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There are 66 miles of trails within park boundaries, offering plenty of hiking options. Yvette and I walked most of the 7-mile-long Gorge Trail that follows the top of the canyon and offers expansive views along the way. The park is very well laid out, with benches dotting the trails to allow for rest and contemplation.

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There also are plaques explaining different aspects of the Genesee River Gorge, which is as deep as 600 feet.

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Trails are very well marked, and snake through beautiful forested areas as well as the rim of the gorge.

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The Genesee Gorge is not one you want to climb into. The sides of the canyon are extremely steep, and the rocks can be very slick. It’s best to stay on the trails to enjoy the views in safety.

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Honestly, clambering into the Gorge isn’t necessary because the views from the overlooks are amazing. This photo illustrates why the gorge is called the Grand Canyon of the East.

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During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps worked throughout the park to build trails and other facilities. Their work is a marvel, with trails lined and roads lined with untold numbers of rocks.

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CCC workers even built an arch bridge that connects trails on either side of the gorge.

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This trail connects the Gorge trail on the west side of the gorge to the Portage Trail on the east side via the arched stone bridge.

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Letchworth State Park Lower Falls

The trail down to the footbridge has a short off-shoot that leads to the Lower Falls, another gorgeous cascade along the Genesee River. It’s about 70 feet tall.

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Stop and grab lunch, water or ice cream as you walk the trails.

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Letchworth State Park also is the site of The Humphrey Nature Center, which is a must — especially if you have kids along.

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In front of the Nature Center is a wonderful butterfly garden.

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There’s even a bug hotel designed to shelter all manner of little critters.

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Inside the Nature Center, you’ll find information about the area’s flora and fauna, along with geology information.

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Taxidermied animals allow up-close inspection of some of the indigenous wildlife.

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There’s even a live bull snake in an aquarium.

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Hands-on activities keep children engaged as they walk through the Nature Center.

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Next to the Nature Center is the Autism Nature Trail designed to provide sensory experiences. It is the first dedicated autism trail in the country.

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The Autism Nature Trail experience begins with a stop to pick up guides and other interactive materials.

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And then on to well-maintained trails leading to several stations.

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Even the benches are designed to offer sensory experiences, with carved animals children can touch.

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Stations include shelves packed with various materials from the park, including leaves, pine cones and wood.

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There are even antlers and animal bones children can touch.

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Children can sit in bean bag chairs while they examine the various items or enjoy the peacefulness of the forest.

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The historic Glen Iris Inn built by William Pryor Letchwood in the late 1800s is just one of the lodging opportunities in the park. There also are cabins and other houses, along with a campground, available to rent. A restaurant also is located in the Glen Iris Inn.

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Letchworth State Park Upper Falls

Letchworth State park is a true jewel of New York’s Finger Lakes Region. Known as the Grand Canyon of the East, this deep chasm is home to numerous waterfalls with the Upper Falls being one of the major cascades. It was the first stop when we entered the park’s southern entrance, and we were awed by the size and rush of water.

My wife Yvette accompanied me on this foray to explore the Genesee River Gorge that snakes through Letchworth State Park. The park really should be on any nature lover’s bucket list.

Overlooks along the trail provide views of the beautiful gorge. The park’s Middle Falls, just downstream from the Upper Falls, can be seen up close and personal from this area.

The only problem with the Middle Falls was getting an unobscured shot. The solution was setting up atop the narrow stone wall built by the Civilian Conservation Corps when the park was fully developed.

Letchworth State Park Middle Falls

The payoff for working from the top of the wall is a gorgeous photo of the park’s tallest waterfall, over which the Genesee River tumbles more than 100 feet to a beautiful emeral pool below.

The rush of water over Middle Falls creates a veil of mist that floats above the top of the yawning chasm.

Light Through Sugar Maple Leaves

My wife Yvette noticed the misty view from the truck. As I looked, I saw how the rising sun backlit the leaves of a sugar maple. I used a long lens to create this almost abstract image.

Letchworth State Park Inspiration Point

We moved on to the park’s Inspiration Point, which offers a panoramic view of the canyon cut by the Genesee River. From this overlook, you see the massive Middle Falls and the cool arched railroad bridge that spans the gorge.

Letchworth State Park encompasses more than 14,000 acres and sprang from a 1,000-acre donation in 1906 by William Pryor Letchworth. His donation came with the stipulation that it be managed American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. This inscription by his niece Sarah Evans Letchworth pays homage to her uncle’s foresight.

There are 66 miles of trails within park boundaries, offering plenty of hiking options. Yvette and I walked most of the 7-mile-long Gorge Trail that follows the top of the canyon and offers expansive views along the way. The park is very well laid out, with benches dotting the trails to allow for rest and contemplation.

There also are plaques explaining different aspects of the Genesee River Gorge, which is as deep as 600 feet.

Trails are very well marked, and snake through beautiful forested areas as well as the rim of the gorge.

The Genesee Gorge is not one you want to climb into. The sides of the canyon are extremely steep, and the rocks can be very slick. It’s best to stay on the trails to enjoy the views in safety.

Honestly, clambering into the Gorge isn’t necessary because the views from the overlooks are amazing. This photo illustrates why the gorge is called the Grand Canyon of the East.

During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps worked throughout the park to build trails and other facilities. Their work is a marvel, with trails lined and roads lined with untold numbers of rocks.

CCC workers even built an arch bridge that connects trails on either side of the gorge.

This trail connects the Gorge trail on the west side of the gorge to the Portage Trail on the east side via the arched stone bridge.

Letchworth State Park Lower Falls

The trail down to the footbridge has a short off-shoot that leads to the Lower Falls, another gorgeous cascade along the Genesee River. It’s about 70 feet tall.

Stop and grab lunch, water or ice cream as you walk the trails.

Letchworth State Park also is the site of The Humphrey Nature Center, which is a must — especially if you have kids along.

In front of the Nature Center is a wonderful butterfly garden.

There’s even a bug hotel designed to shelter all manner of little critters.

Inside the Nature Center, you’ll find information about the area’s flora and fauna, along with geology information.

Taxidermied animals allow up-close inspection of some of the indigenous wildlife.

There’s even a live bull snake in an aquarium.

Hands-on activities keep children engaged as they walk through the Nature Center.

Next to the Nature Center is the Autism Nature Trail designed to provide sensory experiences. It is the first dedicated autism trail in the country.

The Autism Nature Trail experience begins with a stop to pick up guides and other interactive materials.

And then on to well-maintained trails leading to several stations.

Even the benches are designed to offer sensory experiences, with carved animals children can touch.

Stations include shelves packed with various materials from the park, including leaves, pine cones and wood.

There are even antlers and animal bones children can touch.

Children can sit in bean bag chairs while they examine the various items or enjoy the peacefulness of the forest.

The historic Glen Iris Inn built by William Pryor Letchwood in the late 1800s is just one of the lodging opportunities in the park. There also are cabins and other houses, along with a campground, available to rent. A restaurant also is located in the Glen Iris Inn.

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