Letchworth State Park, also referred to as Grand Canyon of the East, has a few huge waterfalls with Upper Falls not being the highest of them but definitely the most romantic one.
The Upper Falls is horseshoe shaped and there’s a picturesque railroad bridge stretching immediately above it – both of which make the waterfall the prime romantic location of New York.
The iron bridge is still operating even though it is stated to have been rebuilt at least three times. Back in 1852 when it was opened, the bridge was all wooden (this picture totally made me regret I missed those years).
After a fire, it was rebuilt to be iron. Then in 2018 it was rebuilt again to gain this romantic arch-like look. The most recent project is said to have cost NY $75 million. I am not an expert but it does look like it was worth it!
How High is Upper Falls in Letchworth State Park?
Upper Falls in Letchworth State Park is 40 feet (12 meters) high.
The waterfall is made by Genesee River, the same river that created High Falls in Rochester.
The river starts somewhere in Pennsylvania and crosses the entire Western New York to finally flow into Lake Ontario within the City of Rochester.
In Letchworth State Park Genesee River forms three large waterfalls: Upper, Middle and Lower Falls
How to Best Access Letchworth State Park in Winter?
Accessing the Upper Falls in winter may be tricky. You see, the park has three entrances, and no resource I found would explain that the waterfalls should be accessed from Castile entrance because the park’s main road is not maintained in winter, so you cannot drive through the park.
Lack of cell phone connection and no winter-focused maps led us to spend some time figuring that part out. In the end, we had to exit the park and make a detour to find the correct entrance.
Here I am marking the driving route in green and a short hiking trail in yellow:
From there, it was easy: We followed the signs to find the waterfall parking. Upper Falls can be viewed just a few steps up the stream from the parking lot.
Is the Upper Falls Trail Accessible?
I assume the part to the lower observation point is accessible. It’s a wide paved road which then turns into the steps.
Luckily that observation point provides the best view of the waterfall. No need to climb the steps!
Is the Upper Falls Trail Kid-Friendly?
Absolutely! Our kids loved it.
I did hold the younger one by hand most of the time as the gorge looks steep and the fence is quite low. It may be easy to trip over, especially for kids who don’t really care about safe behavior and/or get carried away too easily.
View of Upper Falls from the Inspiration Point
As you drive back to the information center, stop by the “Inspiration Point” which offers a great of the waterfall and the gorge. It truly is inspirational!
We are planning to come back to explore the park during spring or summer but our winter visit left us speechless. Highly recommended!
While in the park, make sure to see Middle Falls as well. It is truly is a majestic sight and it is only a few steps away from the Upper Falls!