Location: In the hamlet of Barcelona; town of Westfield; Chautauqua County; New York.
GPS: Barcelona Falls: (N 42.34183 / W 79.59226)
Second falls: (N 42.34270 / W 79.58869)
Third Falls: (N 42.34327 / W 79.58745)
Fourth Falls: (N 42.34413 / W 79.58586)
Distant view from Barcelona Harbor Pier: (N 42.34263 / W 79.59365)
Directions: Take I-90 to exit 60 (NY-5 / Barcelona)
Turn right onto NY-394 (NY-5 / Barcelona). This is N Portage St leading through the hamlet and toward the lake.
When you reach NY-5, turn right.
You will pass the Barcelona Lighthouse on your left. Just after that will be the entrance to the Barcelona Harbor Pier. Turn into the entrance (note the Exit is the first turn – don’t turn into the exit).
Use Google Maps for custom directions.
Parking: The Barcelona Harbor Pier is essentially a big parking lot for cars and trailers. It has over 50 spots, but on warm summer days, it can get pretty busy. Look for the gravel parking section a little downhill to the right. Park there.
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
Number of falls: 1 easily accessible. 3 other falls require a walk further down the beach. These may be on private property or difficult to access because of high lake levels. Explore at your own risk.
Size/Types: A seasonal cascade that empties directly into Lake Erie. Barcelona Falls is nearly 20 ft tall. The other cascades are similar in height. The third one is about half the thickness of the others. The fourth one falls at a 45 degree angle to the cliff.
Best time to visit: Early spring or after periods of rain. Avoid rough and high water level conditions on Lake Erie.
Flow: Very low.
Waterway: It’s a very small seasonal runoff creek. It only flows due to snowmelt or if the ground is saturated with recent rain.
Time: 20 minutes.
Seasons/Hours: The beach is open from dawn until dusk, daily.
Handicap Accessibility: Access to the falls is through a stony beach that is impassable by chairs. Bring a pair of binoculars and spot the falls from the pier.
Pets: Allowed on a leash. Not allowed in the water.
Accommodations: A beach, but swimming is not allowed here. Swimming isn’t officially allowed on the other side of the Harbor at Barcelona Harbor Beach, but people tend to swim there. There’s no lifeguard at either beach.
The pier has a boat launch and slips for rent. Fishing is allowed from the pier.
There’s 1 picnic table. There are Bed & Breakfasts and a café within walking distance. The Barcelona Lighthouse, now a part of the NYS Parks system, is also within walking distance.
Barcelona Falls is a very seasonal waterfall on an unnamed runoff creek that doesn’t even show on the majority of maps. Many would not consider it officially a waterfall. Normally, I would not include runoff falls for a listing here, but this one is a very special case.
Located along a public beach in the hamlet of Barcelona (northwest of Westfield) this 16-18 ft tall cascade empties directly into Lake Erie. When lake levels are low, it hits the sand-and-pebble beach and runs down to the shore. If lake levels are high (and they have been pretty high lately) it falls right into the breaking waves. Travelling further down the beach, the cliffs along the shore produce at least 2 other (possibly 3) similar waterfalls. I’m not sure if this land is a part of the public beach or belongs to the homeowners above.
Because the flow is so dependent on groundwater saturation in the area, it’s not usually flowing, especially in the hot summer months when you want to hit the beach. But when it is flowing strong, it’s quite a sight.
If unique falls are your thing, this is one you don’t want to miss. Just be sure to check the weather and plan on being there when conditions are right.
Hiking / Walking Trails
Distance: 350 ft one-way to Barcelona Falls. If you venture further to see the other 3 falls, it’s about 0.4 mile one-way.
Description: From the parking area, head east down to the beach. Keep an eye on the cliffs to the right as you walk along the beach. 250 ft into the beach is Barcelona Falls. It’s located just before the cliff protrudes out toward the lake. If you don’t see it, it may just not be flowing.
If you can make it further, additional similar falls can be found. Obviously if the lake is rough and waves are hitting the cliffs, you may want to save this for another day. The beach gets very slim around the bend. Also, this may be private property. I could not see signage indicating either way. The distance to the last falls is about 0.4 mile.
Take some time to check out the Pier and Lighthouse.
Barcelona Falls Interactive Map
Check out the history of the Lighthouse and Barcelona Harbor here.
Native Americans long used a trail from Chautauqua Lake, extending through present-day Westfield, and reaching Lake Erie at Barcelona. This trail was further expanded by French military forces in 1749 and 1753 to expand and supply their western territories. The old pathway is now called the Old Portage Road, which NR-394 closely follows, and is now an historic trail recognized for its role in the nation’s westward expansion.
The first settlers arrived in Barcelona around 1816. General Joseph Farnsworth (from Groton, Mass), David L. Cochran (Penn.), and Stephen and E. T. Foote (Litchfield, Conn) were some of the early settlers. Cochran, a scientist, constructed a mill on Chautauqua Creek. Maps show this was actually more toward Westfield.
When the Holland Land Company surveyed the region, they designated it as one of the most important places in the country due to its strategic location on the lake, as well as its proximity to Chautauqua Creek and the Portage Road. Despite that, it was inhabited for a number of years before any large shipping industry took hold. This is most likely because the natural “harbor” simply wasn’t much of a harbor. Barcelona was designated as a US Port of Entry, and a lighthouse was constructed in 1828. The shipping industry was still slow to take off until the mid-1800s when E. T. Foote invested in building (and then upgrading) a wharf at great expense. In 1831, the Barcelona Company was formed to develop the small village into a larger port city. It laid out development plans. Barcelona grew as a harbor town, serving as a gateway to Lake Erie for landlocked settlements in the county, especially Westfield. The arrival of railways across the state, eventually put an end to Barcelona’s monopoly on shipping.
Barcelona Falls Media
Contributor Photos & Art
At this time I have not been able to get out to this site and photograph yet. In the meantime, those with suitable photos or original works of art, who would like to be featured here, please contact me. Photos, paintings, and illustrations would be subject to quality review, and not all will be accepted. Your work can be accompanied by a link to your site/store/insta.
Who to Contact
Hamlet of Barcelona