Guppy Falls, Skaneateles Conservation Area

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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: Located in the Skaneateles Conservation Area; town of Skaneateles ; Onondaga County

Maps: Google MapBing MapMulti-Map (topo); Skaneateles Conservation Area mapInteractive.

GPS: Falls: (N 42.9673 / W 76.3921)
Parking: (N 42.96814 /  W 76.39002)

Directions: From Marcellus, follow Route 133, the Old Seneca Turnpike, to the intersection of Gully Road. Turn down Gully Road and follow for ¾ of a mile until you see a turn-out on the right for Guppy Falls.

From Skaneateles, follow New Seneca Turnpike, Route 41, for 1.5 miles until the intersection of Gully Road. Take a left on Gully Road and follow for 1 mile until you see the turn-out on the left.

Or use Google Directions.

Parking: The gravel/dirt parking area is just north of the creek on the west side of Gully Road. Room for several cars.

Information / Accessibility / Accommodations

Latest Skaneateles, New York, weather conditions and forecast

Number of falls: 1

Size/Types: 20 ft cascade over the shale bedrock that is typical of the area.
Best time to visit: spring, early summer, and fall for the best water flow. Also right after rain.

Flow: Variable, depending on rainfall. Will be a trickle during dry summers.

Waterway: An unnamed tributary into Ninemile Creek, which empties into Onondaga Lake.

Time: 30 minutes at least.

Seasons/Hours: Year round, dawn until dusk.

Admission: Free.

Handicap accessibility: No.

Pets: Allowed on leash.

Swimming: None.

Camping: There is a camping area in the south end of the conservation area.

Accommodations: The trail loop has informative signs; and a falls overlook. The conservation area has picnic tables, pavilion, hiking trails.

Contact Information

Description

Guppy Falls is located in the Skaneateles Conservation Area, a unique habitat protected by the town of Skaneateles who purchased land around this crucial tributary from owners and farmers in order to preserve the unique ecosystem.The area contains two ponds, numerous acres of wetland habitat and stream access.

Guppy Falls is typical of many of the small feeder streams in the Finger Lakes area. The bedrock is shale, and the stream flow is very dependent upon rainfall. The falls itself is roughly 20 ft high, sloping over slippery shale, with a slightly overhanging segment at the top. There are many small flumes and cascades along the way to the Guppy Falls that make good photo opportunities as well.

Protecting these small tributaries is crucial to the overall health of New York’s system of watersheds. Although this small scree, and the muddy wetland it meets up with below is minute, it flows into Ninemile Creek, a major tributary to the troubled Onondaga Lake. Cleaning up Onondaga begins with ensuring that clean water fills it.

Guppy Falls

Guppy Falls Videos

Hiking / Walking Trails

Note
The area is a multi-use area – with some small scale logging and hunting allowed. It is advisable for hikers to be aware that hunters may be on the land during May and in November and December and that you should use caution, dress appropriately, and identify yourself whenever you suspect a hunter in the area.

Difficulty: Easy or difficult.

Markings: Yellow blazed trees and informational signage will guide you through the Guppy Farm Nature Trail.

Distance: The trail loop is a mile in length, but a hike to the falls and back will be about a half mile.

Description: From the parking area, there is a set of steps and a well marked trail that goes up above the gully to the right-hand side. This goes for about a quarter mile and leads to a nice view of the falls from a vantage point above. The trail continues on above the falls and offers a nice walk in the gully, looping back to the Gully Road and back near the parking area. This is a really informative walk with signs along the way. If you have the time, take the complete loop.

You can also choose to creek walk up from the road to the falls, which is more difficult but provides you with access to a few small cascades along the way. If you go this route, wear the appropriate footwear, the creek can get slippery. It’s also not recommended to climb Guppy Falls. The land is unstable and there doesn’t seem to be much above it.

Map: Skaneateles Conservation Area map; Interactive.

Guppy Falls Interactive Map

Drag the map or click the arrows to move around and use the +/- to zoom in or out. Click on the icons for more information. This map is not accurate. Caution and common sense should be used when hiking.

View Guppy Falls in a larger map

History

Guppy FallsThe Skaneateles Conservation Area has a very unique history. On many maps the area is still pegged as a “US Military Reservation.”

According to local records, the land was purchased by the military so that soldiers stationed at the local bases and armory, such as Hancock Field, would have a place for recreation, camping, and even partying. When the military stopped using the area, it became known as a popular place for high-schoolers to hang out on weekend nights.

Having issues with late night underage activities, the town of Skaneateles purchased the land, as well as some surrounding acreage, and created the Skaneateles Conservation Area. Over the years, trails have been created, picnic benches put in, and a nice pavilion and parking area were constructed near the northern end of the park. Families come to picnic here or fish in one of the many small ponds in the area.

The former Guppy Farm, which surrounded the land of the gully, began in the 1850s as a dairy farm operated by William Guppy and family. After William’s death the farm fell into disarray and was eventually abandoned. The property was purchased by the town from the Evans family in 2001 and the nature trail, which was partially created by nature enthusiasts to explore above the falls, was established as an official trail.

Interesting Stuff

The rest of the Skaneateles Conservation Area

From Guppy Falls you can either hike along the road north where you will find a trail head on the right side of the road that will lead you to the rest of the park and the ponds. You can also travel north on Gully Road until you reach the turnpike. Head east on the turnpike until you see a sign for the upper part of the Conservation Area. There are tens of miles of trails, hunting, fishing, camping, cross-country skiing opportunities, and more.  Check out the full map to see the extent of the conservation area.

Photography Tips

Better view

  • Visit in early spring, or late fall when the folliage isn’t as full in order to get a less obstructed view from the overlook.

Silky water effect

  • To get that smooth cotton-candy look to the falls, you need to use a Neutral Density (ND) filter on your lens. The ND filter will block some of the light from entering the lens without altering the color, and thus allow your shutter to stay open longer. This blurs the water and creates a soft white gloss to the foamy areas of the falls. You can pick up a Neutral Density (ND) filter relatively cheap on Amazon.
  • Cut down on reflections and help reduce the light entering the lens by utilizing a Circular Polarizer filter. Most of the waterfall scenes shown on this website are captured with this type of filter. It reduces glare and helps us obtain more even exposures.You can pick up a Circular Polarizer filter relatively cheap on Amazon.
  • When shooting slow shutter speeds a sturdy Tripod is a must. Don’t settle for a cheap tripod that wobbles in the wind or can be vibrated by water currents. Amazon has a nice selection of quality Tripods.

Waterproof

  • The stones in the creek are very slippery, especially in the lower glen. Be careful, use footwear with a good grip, and take advantage of your tripod or monopod as a walking stick. It’s best to pack that camera away as you move across the water.

More tips

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