Last month my wife and I went back to see my folks in upstate NY. When were weren’t hanging out at the house, we were driving out and about, as usual, but lately have taken up “Waterfall Huntin’,” as I’ve come to calling it. On one of my previous trips back home by myself, my stepmom had told me about a nearby waterfall, so we went to see it, and when I left to return to Colorado, she’d given me a book, Waterfalls of New York State. Ever since, I’ve been picking out some from this book and making the effort to go find them. It’s been quite the enjoyable pursuit, especially since I am a fan of the falling waters!
I took all images with my Nikon D3500, in various manual modes, with and without polarization.
High Falls Gorge, Wilmington, NY
It is quite the experience to stand before all this raging water and feel the pounding and hear the thunder of these powerful forces of nature! To feel the wind and splashes of water hitting your face! The temperature drops as you go down deeper and deeper into the gorges these waterfalls have created!
High Falls Gorge is a popular tourist attraction that is located between Lake Placid and Wilmington, directly off NY 86, part of the West Branch of the Ausable River. I don’t ever remember visiting this waterfall, even as a kid. During the past couple of our NYS trips, my wife and I had tried to stop by, but either it was too late and was closed, or it had been raining. This time, we made it our first stop, and it was a gorgeous day!
This is not a free visit. There’s a quaint little gift shop there through which all is managed: to buy waterfall and North Country gifts, eat, and use restrooms. Then you enter the falls through the rear of the gift shop to the trail. Admission is about $11 or so, but it’s worth it. You get a brochure that guides you through everything. Without this gift shop setup, most people would not be able to visit these falls, because the terrain is quite extreme. The maintained trail is composed of dirt, rocks, wooden paths, and stairs, and it’s listed in the book as a “moderate” effort. Were you just to walk it and not lollygag, like I did, it’d be maybe, like a 30-minute venture or something. It took us even longer, because it had been a year since I’d practiced taking manual shots of flowing water (there’s technique and art to it), and it being in a deep-cut gorge, the lighting was a constant challenge. So…some of these are over or underexposed, but for me, I think I got some really good images for a rank amateur!
Cascade and Rushton Falls, Canton, NY
These falls are not as “cut” and deep as High Falls Gorge, but it is still wonderful to hear the roar of the falls as you approach…then find a view of them as you poke your way through trees and underbrush, as you leave the maintained trail.
Cascade and Rushton Falls are located in the Grasse River, in downtown Canton, just past the intersection of US 11 and 68. There is bridge and a maintained, village-run mini-park. If you blink, you will literally miss the turn-in, so keep your eyes peeled (if you come from US 11, like we did, the waterfall entrance is on your right, the parking area is on Willow Island, and the rest of this park is across the street, where there’s even a PortaPotty), after the first set of light and before the bridge, after you drive through the business district!
These waterfalls are created by the island that interrupts the Grasse River’s flow. This is also a well-maintained waterfall, but it’s free. And the paths are easy and fun to walk and explore. You can easily hoof it on the path in a handful of minutes, which we both did—my wife more than me, because, again, I had to stop and take multiple pictures. There are strategically place placards describing various aspects of the falls.
On the mainland side of the east channel is a memorial plague in honor of J. Henry Rushton (1843-1906). He was a famous canoe builder of the time, and made Canton his home. He made lightweight cedar canoes, as well as guide boats, sailboats, and other vessels that all became internationally famous.
Sorry I haven’t broken out which falls are which, below. I know the Rushton Falls span a larger horizontal width, but that still doesn’t help me in identifying my shots!