A place to discuss waterfalls. Including the parks that house them and the hikes to get to them.
Hit Conklin Gully today (and Clark Gully too). What an amazing place! I was here a total of 4 times last year in late summer and early fall. There was very little water flowing those times, but I still fell in love with it. I made it all the way to the tall falls at the end of the gully on two visits, took the other side of major fork in the creek once, and hiked in to the top of the tall falls from above another time. Each time I went up from below, I came back down all the falls rather than take the trail(s). Such an interesting combination of challenges to climb up the falls. So many different types of and techniques for climbing all rolled into a 1.2 mile trip (to the tall falls) with plenty to see along the way.
Today was a different story altogether. I parked in my normal spot on Parrish Hill Rd. Where there had been nothing but rocks last fall was a rather swiftly moving creek. All I could think was "WOW!" And so I ventured up the creek, at first finding the banks surprisingly clear and passable with little to no need to step in the water at all. Where a trickle had been dripping over the brink of the first 6ft falls last year was a beautiful whitewash of water today. Again, getting past this falls was quite easy along the banks. Beyond this falls, however it was clear that I was going to have to get my feet wet if I wanted to go on. For as fast as it was moving, it wasn't very "pushy." I was able to walk against the current fairly easily. I could tell it was flowing, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't as strong as I expected. Pretty soon I came to the bottom of the first cascades, and the adjoining gulch that carries Angel Falls into the main gully. I just stood in awe. It was breathtaking! I could make out the base of Angel Falls looking up that gulch, and I would have been able to get closer if I could have crossed the main creek. At this point, the water was flowing VERY fast and I didn't want to tempt fate by trying to cross. I did however go up the lower cascades to the first large amphitheater. Standing up there, it felt like something out of Lord of the Rings. Truly a beautiful spot. I skirted the edge of the pool partially in the water, partially on the rocks so I could get a good view of the next falls. (I've dubbed it "Rope Falls" because the first two times I visited, there was a white rope tied off to a tree above the falls). I opted to turn around at this point. I likely could have made it up Rope Falls, but I do know the creek narrows considerably above the crest. That in mind, and seeing how fast those falls were flowing, I decided that I'd not risk it. At one point while walking in the water here, it was up to just below my knee, and was splashing to my hip with a couple surges leaving a wet "V" down the front of my sweatshirt.
(and yes... yes the water was cold. )
Coming back down the cascades was a trip in itself! I _almost_ fell at one point. It would have been ugly, cuz I would have kept right on going!
Looking back to my car from in the creek
A nice erratic in the middle of the creek
The first small falls in the gully
An interesting pattern in the bedrock makes a fun looking current
Another red granite erratic
This is my favorite shot of the day. The way the sun was illuminating just that one rock, and the surface of that rock glistening... Looked almost surreal in person
The Lower Cascades
Rope Falls -- not the greatest lighting so it's washed out a bit, but you can still see how high it was flowing.
The Lower Cascades from the top
Great trip report Andy!
Yes, thanks for posting this. I totally forgot that I hit this place up last year, but had to leave quickly due to time. I'm going to have to dig up some photos. I remember coming back with at least one keeper.
Matt..... IMHO this as well as all the falls/gullies in the Naples area should have a dedicated page. All are definately worthy of it. Wheres your pics? Also-just a heads up...you have Triphammer Falls (south of Avon) listed under Yates County.
Here's a couple of pics Ben and I took last year showing the same areas of the gully where I was on Wednesday for water-flow comparison
The stretch of the creek just up from the parking area (09-21-09)
The first falls (6ft). What's interesting here is the rock "sculpture" someone had built. It wasn't there on 09-21 when I went solo, but two weeks later when Nick, Ben, and I went it was there. When I returned a month later on another solo run, it was gone. (10-04-09)
Ben and I checking out the rock art.
"The Illuminated Rock" from a different angle (10-04-09)
The massive flow at the bottom of Lower Cascades <grin> (09-21-09)
Rope Falls (10-04-09)
From the top of Rope Falls looking into the amphitheater above Lower Cascades (09-21-09)
I agree, Kyle -- the Naples area gullies and falls are my favorites. Conklin Gully as a whole is my absolute favorite place -- truly a magic place in my mind. The environment is so suited for an introspective journey - many healing and pensive moments have happend in that place for me. My single absolute favorite falls is a tie between Grimes 2 (main falls) and Grimes 3 (I've heard it called Indian Falls?) I've got some pics of all the falls in Grimes -- some good, some not so good! My collection of Conklin photos is coming along - I always end up gawking at the scenery and _forget_ to take photos. I've not been to Tannery, and I've only been to the lowest falls at Clark with some mediocre shots (and a wet bum) to show for it.
I'll help out in any way I can to get these places onto dedicated pages. Matt -- if you need someone to go with you to help take photos/carry equipment/etc just let me know. I have a screwy work schedule, but if I have enough advance notice (~1wk) I can swap a day with someone to make it happen.
I agree with you guys. If I could pick any place in the Finger Lakes region to live it would be the Naples area. What's interesting about Conklin when it appears bone dry down by the road, if you hike upstream anyway you'll encounter water flowing. It must seep underground at some point.
What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us. ~Henry David Thoreau
I think that the layer(s) of loose rocks deposited in the creekbed below Lower Cascades is very thick, and the water runs through/around the bottom of it. (between Lower Cascades and Rte 245) On my solo 9-21 trip, there was little water flowing at all upstream, and I could hear nothing while in the lower creekbed. When Ben, Nick, and I went on 10-04, the water was running higher than before, though not by much. The biggest difference is that we could hear the water in the rocks underneath us in the lower creekbed. Couldn't see it directly, but we knew it was there. If it does seep underground, I'm betting it's between the top of Rope Falls and the 2nd large amphitheater (base of what I call "Glass Falls"), as that seems to be where the water flow wanes a bit before going over Rope Falls. Seems pretty strong coming out of that amphitheater, through the narrows and towards Rope Falls, though. This could all just be a perspective thing too, as the creek does get very narrow through that portion, and the flow could just seem to be fading as the creek widens a bit just above Rope Falls. Does anyone have any geological maps or any other relevant data for this region? Looking at a cross section of the gully's profile through the rock layers may provide some insight into this.
Since theres not too much info on Conklin:
If you creekwalk to a point where the gully looks like it is flattening out you will see a blazed trail crossing the stream, you can take this to the right to return to the bottom. This is really a good idea as you may not want to climb down some of the falls and the ridge trail is really impressive in its own right. However, if you do take the take the trail immediately, you are missing out on 40% of the gully and in my opinion, the last and best fall. You will also skip a tributary coming in from the left that has numerous falls and is worth exploring. There is an unmarked trail beginning near the tributary that appears to head towards the top of the unclimbable fall you will eventually reach on the main gully, but I have not taken it.
Angel Falls - Spring
Angel Falls - Summer
There are too many falls to have pictures of (probably another 15-20) but I think hiking is a lot more exciting when you can explore without already having a picture in mind, so its always good to leave a bit out.
"Now I see the Secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth" - W. Whitman
That last falls is indeed climbable if there's not too much water. The path that Ben uses starts on the right side of the falls, crosses into the middle, goes back to the right then crosses back over to the left and up through the left "notch" in the crest. I'll try to catch it on video this season to illustrate his route. It's an amazing falls either way.
I concur with Andy, the falls are passable. Its been 5+ years since I've tried though and I recall it being very nerve wrecking, not something I'm sure I'd try again but it is doable.
Also, I took the left hand side of the split the first time I was there. I came across a couple smaller (~5-7 ft) drops that would have been waterfalls had there been water spilling over them. It was quite dry that day, and I haven't been back up that fork since to check it out. I also didn't go too far up from the split. It was getting dark so I turned around. Topo looks like there's probably a couple more decent size (perhaps 15 ft or more) falls further up.
For me, when coming back down, the trickiest falls to decend is the one at the second large amphitheater (from the bottom of the gully). The one in your 7th photo. I usually end up just sliding down on my butt with one foot tucked under and the other stretched in front of me. A good pair of heavy gloves lets me use my hands to "steer" on the rocks and keep myself upright. It helps to be wearing heavy pants or shorts! The rest of the falls aren't too bad. I would rate "Rope Falls" as the 2nd most challenging in the descent. Also I've only been that far up in low water flow, so when there's more water things are probably much different.
While those tall falls may be climbable, it's the coming back down part that's not adviseable. Best to keep hiking above those falls for a ways, climbing another 10-15 ft falls, then climb the banks to the right and catch the orange blazed trail back down along the rim. Or just keep hiking the creek all the way to where the orange trail meets the creek near the FLT trail register box -- I'm not sure which FLT spur/loop this is. At that point, you can go to the right and get on the FLT, or you can go left and find a trail up the hill which eventually comes out onto Donley Rd. (I've also seen it marked Jones Rd. on some maps) NY DEC maps show that most of this road/trail forms part of the border of the High Tor WMA. As you walk uphill, the land to your right (east) is private with a few posted signs along it's length. There's a parking area a little ways up the hill on the High Tor side of the road. Ben and I parked there one time and hiked into High Tor from there, down to the creek and to the top of the tall falls. The hike through this section is tricky at best. There's obviously no defined trail, so using the creek as guidance is your best bet. It gets a bit rocky in places, a bit marshy/muddy in others, and there's a lot of downed trees across the creek/gully. The gully is fairly wide and shallow near the trail, but narrows quickly as you get closer to the top of the falls.
At the base of that 15ft falls above the tall falls, there's a stunning example of "rotten shale" that shows just how unstable the gorge walls are. Paper thin and cleveable by hand. Ben just banged his fist on a bit that was sticking out, which loosened up a considerable chunk of rock that he was able to pull away. It just broke apart in his hands. It almost looked like deli sliced ham as it broke up and fell away. Makes you realize exactly what risks you are taking when climbing in this area. Kinda sobering, really.