GPS/Locations: Fellows Falls: (N 42.81576 / W 76.16069)
Directions – Located near the south end of Woodmancy Road in Tully. The easiest way to get there is to take Route 5/20 until it intersects with Route 80. Take Route 80 south until you reach the south end of Woodmancy Road. Head north on Woodmancy. It’s a short drive to the two noticeable sets of guardrails on the right side of the road.
Or use Google Directions.
Parking: Scarce. Pull off to the side of Woodmancy Road in the small dirt area near where it crosses over the creek.
Number of falls: At least 4.
Size/Types: Cascades. The first waterfall, directly accessible and viewable from Woodmancy Road is about a 35 ft, two-tiered cascade, that pours out of a culvert underneath the road. The area around the first waterfall recently suffered from a mudslide that compromised the road above, so the state DOT covered the glen wall with retainer rock to prevent another one. Admittedly it does detract from the overall beauty of the first falls. The second waterfall is a multi-tiered cascade about 15 ft in total height. The third waterfall, Fellows Falls, is a steep cascade down a sandstone face, much like Montville Falls. Dropping at least 65 ft and covered with moss, it’s a real beauty, reminiscent of the types of waterfalls found out west. Additionally, there is another 10 ft cascade directly below the large falls that is more typical of the shale waterfalls we commonly find in the area. At least 1 more waterfall can be seen downstream, but the accessibility is unknown at this time.
Best time to visit: Spring, early summer, fall.
Flow: Variable. Dependent on rainfall. The water flow can be very low during the hot months of summer.
Waterway: This gully is the beginning of Onondaga Creek, which ends up in Onondaga Lake.
Time: A few minutes for the roadside waterfall and about an hour and a half to see the rest.
Seasons/Hours: Year round.
Handicap accessibility: Roadside view only.
Pets: Not recommended.
Town of Tully
Fellows Falls is just one in a series of ravines and glens that course water down from the Tully Hills, through the valley, and then into the city of Syracuse. We were able to find 4 waterfalls, ranging in size from 10-65 feet in height. Three of them follow the typical shale-makeup of most Finger Lakes region waterfalls, but the main attraction, the 65 foot Fellow Falls, cascades down steep, multi-hued layers of rock, creating a beautiful sight. The material is called ‘Tully Limestone’ and is unique to this portion of New York State. It contains rare fossils not found anywhere else.
The portion of the gully near Woodmancy Road suffered from a landslide several years ago that destroyed part of the road itself and required extensive repair, which unfortunately disrupts the view of the upper falls. It’s also important to note that the mud and clay make-up of the land in this area is very unstable at times of high rainfall. Be careful and check the weather prior to exploring this gully.
Many people are not even aware of the lower reaches of the ravine that are in a much more natural and beautiful state (compared to the heavily constructed upper falls). The lower gully is surrounded by mature forests which command a beautiful view down into the Tully Valley. There are a few large pools for wading, and since you will be walking downstream, you approach the falls from the top and can enjoy beautiful vistas as you look downstream into the gorge.
Distance: A half-mile creek-walk to the last of the waterfalls.
There are no well-defined trails. Viewing the roadside falls is easily done from the top of Woodmancy Road. Getting down to the creek bed below is a different story, due to the recent landslide. There are newly built rock retaining walls that provide for a way to scramble down, but it should be done with extreme care.
Once in the ravine, creek walking down some slippery shale will reward you with a much better environment than that closest to the road. There are numerous cascades that you’ll have to carefully scale down to reach the top of the main waterfall. About a quarter of a mile from the road, you will reach the crest of the 65 foot Fellows Falls, which you won’t be able to see to well. To get a decent view, cross the creek and walk to the right where you will see an opening in the woods and a rough game trail. If you carefully follow the wooded ridge that descends to the right of the gorge, you will be rewarded with brief peeks at the falls through the woods. Continue the descent on the ridge and eventually you will reach an area where you can get to the bottom of the ravine and walk right to the base of the falls. To view the final waterfall, continue downstream a short distance and walk on the hill to the right of the gorge. This will take you to the bottom of the fourth waterfall.
View Fellows Falls in a larger map
During the last ice age, the edge of a giant glacier stood at Tully Valley and had built up an enormous end moraine about 600 feet high across the valley. As the torrents of melt water flowed south, they spread quantities of gravel and sand that now make up much of the valley floor. It is the most extensive area of glacial outwash in Central New York. The ravines above the floor of the valley have gradually eroded, forming steep gorges that make up the numerous waterfalls in the area, consisting of both Tully Limestone and shale. Just south of the moraine and Fellows Falls, lie the Tully Lakes, pothole and kettle lakes formed from enormous melt-waterfalls and chunks of ice from the receding glacier.
The area around Onondaga Creek in Tully has always been known for its salt deposits. Native American and early settlers to the region were aware of salt wells at the south end of where Fellows Falls lies. About 380 million years ago, the area below Fellows Falls contained a shallow sea, which condensed to form salt mineral. This area was historically favored for excellent salt deposits. It wasn’t until 1889 that the Solvay Process Company began mining the salt (1300 feet below the surface). Mining continued until the mid-1980’s. The wells were plugged in the late 1990’s when the DEC became concerned about seepage into streams and ground water. For more information about the pollution of the Onondaga watershed, read this.
The area has recently been known for landslides that dropped portions of the clay-based hillsides down into the valley, the biggest being in 1993. This area, as well as the whole Onondaga Creek watershed, are often disturbed by farm run off, gravel mining, and denuding of the hillside for housing developments.
Glacial pool lakes
Green Lake Beach is located to the south and is an excellent location to view kettle lakes, formed by melting chunks of glacial ice as well as lakes formed by the plunge pools of massive waterfalls that streamed down the melting glacier.
Capturing the falls
Silky water effect
Photography / Writing
Contributor / Maps