GPS/Locations: Falls: (N 42.34453 / W 76.85136)
Directions: Take Rt. 14 to Montour Falls and turn west onto W Main St. You should see the Falls at the end of the road. Park along Genesee St.
Or use Google Directions.
To get to the crest of the falls, head north on Genesee St and make a left on to Steuben St, which will get you to the top of the escarpment. Make a left onto Mill St. Follow Mill St for roughly 600 ft at which point it crosses over the top of the falls.
Parking: Roadside parking only. There’s room on Genesee St near the falls for roughly 14 cars.
Number of falls: 1.
Size/Types: A large frothy cascade, 156 ft in height. it passes under the Mill Street bridge as it starts and empties into a large basin at the end of the park.
Best time to visit: Year-round.
Flow: Consistent. Rarely completely dry.
Waterway: Shequaga Creek, which begins in the hills 8 miles west of here, near and shortly after falling over Shequaga Falls, it flows north and empties into the Seneca Lake inlet.
Time: You can drive by and see the falls, or park and walk to the falls in under 5 minutes.
Seasons/Hours: Park open year-round. Dawn to dusk
Handicap accessibility: Yes, there is a paved walkway from the street to the end of the park.
Pets: Allowed on leash.
Accommodations: Paved walkway, benches; historical marker. A bed & breakfast operates next door.
Shequaga Falls Park
AKA – Chequaga Falls, Montour Falls, Shequaga Falls
It’s almost startling to drive down Genesee St. in Montour Falls and spot the gigantic Shequaga hiding behind the small houses along the road. It almost seems out of place if you are not familiar with the landscape. If you’re on Main St., you’re treated to one of the most beautiful small-town settings in the state. Montour Falls, although seemingly flat, sits just south of Seneca Lake within a section of the Portage Escarpment that was gouged out by glaciers 18,000 years ago. Encapsulated by cliffs over 300 ft high, this area is a “waterfall mecca,” with hundreds of small runoffs and several more significant waterways trickling down the escarpment.
Easily the largest falls in Montour is Shequaga Falls; a frothy cascade that pours down the cliff-side on the western edge of town. It appears to start from the arch bridge above (although it actually begins just before the bridge) and fans out, tumbling at various degrees over gray limestone and reaching the shallow plunge pool below. There the creek turns 90 degrees to the north and continues on its way towards Catharine Creek and eventually into Seneca Lake.
Between the “At the Falls Bed & Breakfast” and a residence is a small park, open to the public, stretching from the road to a chain link fence overlooking the creek below the falls. A popular stop for passers-by, the park offers a few quick minutes of tranquility and wonder without much effort.
Distance: 120 ft from the road.
Description: This falls is easily visible from the road, and a paved walkways will take you to the viewing area at the base. Be mindful of private property on either side of the small park.
Maps: Interactive map.
View Shequaga Falls in a larger map
Montour Falls, like Watkins Glen is nestled within the basin of Seneca Lake. Thousands of years ago, when the lake levels were much higher, this whole region would have been under water.
Catharine Montour or Queen Catharine, was a matriarch of the Seneca tribe of the Iroquois during the late 1700’s. Known to be the daughter of a native Huron and a French official, she was well versed in both cultures. Since she could speak English in addition to native languages, she was influential in dealing with early white settlers in the area. Montour Falls was previously known as ‘Catharine’s Town,’ but was destroyed during the Sullivan Expedition during the Revolutionary War. Rebuilt by non-native settlers, the town was then called Havana, and renamed Montour Falls in 1890. The villages of Catharine and nearby Catharine Creek are also named after Queen Catharine.
Montour Falls was an important trade stop and travel hub in its early years. It played an important role on the Seneca Lake Inlet when the Chemung Canal was built in 1827. The Chemung Canal connected Seneca Lake with the Chemung River.
Visit at night to see the falls illuminated.
After periods of rain, a thin seasonal falls will flow just to the north. You may be able to see it from N. Genesee Street.
When completed, it will extend 12 miles from Watkins Glen State Park to Mark Twain State Park in Horseheads, NY, passing through Montour Falls along the way. The trail follows the old Northern Central Railroad and the Chemung Canal towpaths with multiple historic sites along the way.
Just north of here is this smaller roadside falls, which is just as easy to see.
Photographing the Falls
Silky water effect
Writing / Photography