Pratt’s Falls County Park

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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: Six miles south/east of Syracuse. Within Pratt’s Falls County Park, town of Pompey, Onondaga County, New York.

Maps: Google MapBing MapMulti-map (topo); Park mapInteractive map

GPS/Locations: Falls: (N 42.93116 / W 75.99398)
Park entrance: (N 42.92713 / W 75.99464)
Viewing area: (N 42.93156 / W 75.99411)

Directions: Take I-81 to Exit 15 and follow Rt-20 into the village of Pompey. Make a left (North) at Pompey onto CR- 182 (Henneberry Rd) and Pratt’s Falls Rd (CR-218) will be on your right. Take that right and look for the park entrance on your left. Follow the park road as it swings to the right and enters a large parking area.

Parking: Park in the first parking area (across from the archery fields). Room for about 40 cars.

Information / Accessibility / Accommodations

Latest Pompey, New York, weather conditions and forecast

Number of falls: 1.

Size/Types: 137 ft tall ribbon cascade in a heavily wooded and narrow gorge.

Best time to visit: All year. You can get a better view of the falls when the leaves are off the trees.

Flow: Consistent.

Waterway: A tributary into West Branch, which flows north to Manlius, over Brickyard Falls, and into Limestone Creek. Limestone Creek is a major tributary to Oneida Lake.

Time: 30 minutes.

Seasons/Hours: April through October: 8:30am – 5:30pm;
Closed November though March.

Parking: Plenty of parking and pullover areas throughout the park.

Admission: $1 vehicle fee (suggested donation).

Handicap accessibility: Yes, at the crest of the falls and most park facilities.

Pets: Allowed on a leash.

Accommodations: Restrooms; trails; archery field; picnic tables; pavilion; fishing; historic signs; community lodge.

Contact Information

Description

The centerpiece of this county park is its sole falls. Although it resides in a deep narrow gorge, covered in trees, it is seen perfectly framed by foliage from the provided lookout area half-way down. A small dam provides a fishing lake near the parking area, but also keeps Pratt’s Falls flowing, even in mid-summer. An excellent case of a “buttermilk” falls, the waters bounce continuously from one jagged limestone edge to the next, frothing and generating rainbow-producing mist along the way. The gorge walls feed a slight echo to the 137 feet high cascade, spreading the tranquil sound of the tumbling water to the adjacent areas of the park.

Pratt's Falls

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Hiking / Walking Trails

Falls View Trail

Difficulty: Easy.

Markings: Blue blazes.

Distance: Just under a half-mile loop.

Description: Head to the viewing platform from the parking lot. Here you can see right down into the gorge. The falls is straight down from here. The viewing platform can be seen across the gorge to the right. Head there next going back towards the parking lot, but sticking to the gorge edge. Follow the trail down towards the falls, keeping left until you reach the platform. Due to the unstable slopes in the gorge, it’s not recommended you cross the boundaries to climb down to the creek-bed.

Map: Interactive.

Pratt’s Falls County Park 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 Pratt’s Falls County Park in a larger map

History

Postcard c. 1906Although evidence of early Onondaga native occupation near Pratt’s Falls has been documented, precise records of what, as well as the location of, unearthed tools and village remnants have not been recorded.

Onondaga County saw its first sawmill and flour mill on this site in 1796, constructed by Manoah Pratt, on a rock ledge just above the falls. Pratt was born in 1754, in Glastenbury, Connecticut, arriving in Pompey, NY in 1796 with Abraham Smith. Pratt also operated a farm here, hosted town meetings, and contributed to the construction of Pompey town facilities and schools. Manoah Pratt died in 1841. His son Joseph inherited the mill and farm and operated them until his death.

Onondaga purchased the land in 1931 and it was developed into a park soon after by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Interesting Stuff

Fishing the Mill Pond

Although a modern dam under the park road now holds back the tributary waters, the mill pond’s history dates back to the original mill. Although from time to time the post is completely taken over by geese, it’s a nice place to fish if you have the time.

Rainbows

Although a bight sunny day is not great for photograph,y it is perfect for rainbows. Get there when the sun is up high and shining right down on the falls, and you may see several rainbows.

Gorge Trail

There is no trail into the gorge, but take a right on the Falls Trail, instead of a left and you can follow the loop to see more of the gorge.

Photography Tips

The Falls

  • The gully is very narrow and heavily forested. Don’t expect to capture the whole falls. Shoot for segments and closeups of its detail.
  • You can shoot the falls from the overlook near the crest. The key is a tall tripod and a tilt-screen LCD on your camera.

Overcast skies

  • Daylight will cast uneven shadows through the canopy and cause sunspots in your shots. It is best to wait for an overcast sky for this one.

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.

More tips

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