GPS/Locations: Parking area: (N 42.92682 / W 76.21978)
Directions: Located just north of State Route 20, west of Syracuse.
From points west: travel Route 20 east until reaching the intersection of Route 80. Turn left heading north on Route 80.
Follow Route 80 for about a mile until reaching Hogsback Road on your left hand side. Less than a quarter a mile down, there is a bridge with a pull off on the right hand side.
Or use Google Directions.
Parking: Roadside along Hogsback Road directly past the bridge. Parking for a few cars.
Number of falls: 1.
Size/Types: 90′ multi-tiered cascade. There are three distinct drops on Peppermill Gulf Falls. The highest part of the waterfall drops steeply in a narrow channel down the limestone rock face. It briefly levels out before dropping steeply again, finally cascading and spreading widely down the rock at the base.
Best time to visit: Spring, early summer, fall. Deer flies and horseflies can be a nuisance in mid-summer as well.
Flow: Somewhat consistent. Water flow can be low in mid-summer. High in spring.
Waterway: Peppermill Gulf is one of many creeks and brooks in the Tully Valley that flow into the West Branch of Onondaga Creek.
Time: 1.5 hours for the entire trip in and out. It’s about 2 miles round-trip.
Seasons/Hours: Year-round. Day & night.
Admission: Area is now POSTED. Do not trespass. (as of April, 2014)
Handicap accessibility: No.
Pets: Not recommended.
Town of Onondaga
Peppermill Gulf Falls is just one in a series of ravines and glens that course down from the Tully hills, and enter the west branch of Onondaga Creek. The ravine itself is very secluded and wild, but contains ample evidence of past human activity. Unfortunately, years of dumping from careless landowners above the steep slopes of the gully have left the creek bed and surrounding flood plain awash in garbage, from cars to hundreds of tires that litter the forest.
The waterfall is similar in structure to the nearby Fellows Falls in that it is made mostly of limestone that gives it a unique look similar to many western waterfalls. The lower part of the gulf contains larger boulders of granite while the middle portion of the gully is made of shale that is more common among Finger Lakes waterfalls. At nearly 90 ft high, Peppermill Gulf is quite a surprise to come upon in such a narrow ravine. Get here in spring for a challenging creek walk and a massive torrent of falls. Later on, the falls dries to a tall ribbon cascade. The sharp angles of limestone give this falls wonderful character and scaling can be a moderate challenge. You will most likely have the waterfall to yourself as the difficult walk and relatively unknown nature of this gem makes it unique in the area.
Distance: Less than a mile creek-walk upstream.
Description: The hike is a difficult one, consisting almost entirely of walking directly in the creek bed. From the bridge, walk upstream about 1.8 miles. Along the way, you will pass through various obstructions, from downed trees to the shells of old cars, snowmobiles, and a “tire forest.” Most of the junk along the way is a relic of days past when the farmers and landowners above the gully would toss their junk down the slopes into the ravine below. The forest has reclaimed the area, but the junk remains, making walking difficult, but interesting.
The lower part of the creek has larger granite rocks & boulders and it’s more open, making walking easier. About half-way in, there is a slight trail that dips into the forest for a short while. You will know you are getting close to the waterfall when the creek bed changes into a combination of shale & limestone and briefly narrows before opening up into the spectacular waterfall.
View Peppermill Gulf 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, lies the Tully Lakes, pothole and kettle lakes formed from enormous melt-waterfalls and chunks of ice from the receding glacier.
Peppermill Gulf is very distinct in its remnants – a large, prehistoric coral bed, unique to the Tully region, was found in the area dating from the middle Devonian period, nearly 300 million years ago. Certain fossil specimens were found only in this one area of New York State.
As stated before, Peppermill Gulf is rife with human miss-use of the gorge — dumping their garbage in the gorge. Hopefully, the unique beauty of this area will warrant protection and cleanup of Peppermill Gulf.
Peppermill Gulf Bed Fossils
Keep an eye out for Devonian-era fossils in this rich layer of shale.
Proper creek-walk footwear
Silky water effect
Writing / Photography
Contributor / Maps