Letchworth State Park is called the “Grand Canyon of the East” for its mesmerizing views. In 2017, it was voted the best state park in New York State. The Letchworth state park has everything, from places to hike to plain lands for a picnic and an abundance of opportunities for fishing, water, and boating sports. I have to say it was a well earned title.
One of the important aspects of the Letchworth state park is its three main waterfalls: Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and the Lower Falls. These are located south of the park, with Upper Falls at the farthest end of the south. The Genesee river, in reality, flows in the scenic gorge towards the north, and then Genesee eventually ends up in Ontario lake after traveling through Rochester.
Not only are there breathtaking waterfalls safe to drive in between, except for the Lower falls, but there are some 600 meters above the ground cliffs to add more views to the park. Hiking in between these waterfalls on the Gorge trail and the cliffs can be one of the first things to do when you get there.
The History and Geology of Letchworth State Park
Letchworth state park is nestled in a highly accessible area. The Genesee river forms the canyons that are west of the Fingers lakes. Since the Letchworth state park is in the east the west of NY, it is easy to access. This is makes it a great locale for all area residents to visit often.
The Genesee River is the park’s highlight, with three waterfalls and now a new trestle bridge for the train at 235 feet from the river, with 963 feet in length. The trestle bridge is further accompanied by a 483 feet semi-circular arch at the top, this not only fulfills its function and carries trains from one end of the gorge to the other, but it has also stepped up to become one of the landmarks in Letchworth.
The Letchworth state park spans over 14000 acres of land; it is 17 miles long as well. There are trails for hiking across the river banks, and in the woods, some go way up, and then there are some steep trails as well, but overall they comprise 66 miles. Different trails accommodate different activities related to tracks. Some have bike riding, while there are some for horse-riding.
Water lovers can play water sports like rafting and kayaking. In the winter, the park becomes an adventure site for snowmobiling and skiing. There is also a nature center situated in the park that was established in 2016, especially to view the flora and fauna of this particular area and understand the ecology of the park.
The history of this place is as captivating as its present. As a part of the ancient sea, Letchworth has many fossils covered with layers of time. Geologists have this site on their list of regulars since the river comes from pre-glacial ages, and between 10,000 to 100,000 years, it gained the characteristics which remain till this date.
The first ones to inhabit this area were the people of Seneca, who called this area the “Vale of three falls,” In their language, it was known as Segahunda. Then, in the 1700s came a woman named Mary Jemison, a white woman in the Genesee, she was originally brought as a captive by Senecas, but then she settled there and married as well. She is also buried in the Letchworth state park.
In 1859, William Pryor Letchworth bought this area to create a getaway from the bustling hustle of Buffalo, where he was working as an industrialist. He acquired around 1000 acres of the area in which the Glen Iris Inn was also built. This was his primary residence during that period. Later, in 1906, he gave the estate to the government, and the area became known as Letchworth state park.
To honor the previous owner’s legacy, a museum was built in the park to showcase the belongings and collection of the founder. Furthermore, it holds artifacts from the time of the Seneca settlements and some precious fossils from nature.
How’s the Fishing?
Genesee lake has two main spots for fishing, and then there is a trout pond which is also a famous fishing spot. There are mainly Channel catfish, Chinook salmon, and Smallmouth bass found in the Genesee river.
How’s the Hunting?
You can apply for a turkey hunting permit, and there are some hunting grounds for deer.
How’s the Birding?
There is a Bird Conservation Area in Letchworth, and according to that, there are different birds you can see at different times of the year. Some bird species are breeders there, and you might find three types of hawks: cooper’s, red-shouldered, and northern goshawk. Then there are two species of warblers to watch over; Golden-winged and cerulean. You will also find a red-headed woodpecker and two kinds of sparrows, vesper and grasshopper, in the lower levels of the sky and woods.
Activities To Do And Important Places To Visit
Letchworth state park has something to offer to everyone; you can visit the historical museum, spend a night in the camping ground, relax by the waterfalls, go hiking between the waterfalls, and experience cliff diving, rafting, and kayaking. Furthermore, there are some vigorous activities like hunting, fishing, and trekking which people find refreshing.
How To Get There?
Reaching Letchworth state park from New York City is a five-hour drive; similarly, from Albany, it’s four hours away. While residents in Buffalo and Rochester only need an hour to get there.
Letchworth state park is an incredible place to go for a recreational retreat with friends and family. The rich history, numerous activities, and mind-captivating sceneries are a true delight for a person who wants to experience nature and spend some time in the fresh air.