A wide view of Double Drop Falls in early spring. On the left a large fallen tree lies across the falls.
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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: On land maintained by Ontario Pathways; Town of PhelpsOntario County, New York

Maps: Google MapTopographic; Trail Map; Interactive.

GPS/Locations: Parking area/Trailhead: (N 42.96173 / W 77.09126)
Falls 1: (N 42.95616 / W 77.09319)
Falls 2: (N 42.95392 / W 77.09241)

Directions: From Syracuse and points east: Take I-90 to Exit 42 and head south on Rt-14 for about a half mile. Turn right (west) onto Rt-96 and follow it through the village of Phelps. Past the village will be Phelps Junction Rd on your right and then Phelps Veterinary Hospital on your left. Immediately after the Hospital is the parking area. Look for the sign “Ontario Pathways.”

From Rochester and points west: Take I-90 to Exit 43 and head south on Rt-21. Immediately turn left (east) onto Rt-96 and follow it for 7 miles. After the junction with Rt-488 (on your right) will be the parking area. Look for the sign “Ontario Pathways.”

Or use Google Directions.

Parking: Parking for 6 cars in the lot off of Rt-96 at the trail-head.

Weather

PHELPS WEATHER

Information / Accessibility / Accommodations

Number of falls: 2.

Size/Types: The first waterfall drops in 2 distinct cascading segments totaling no more than 10 ft in height over a distance of  30 ft. The second waterfall has two segments over a distance of 10 ft, totaling no more than 3 ft in height.

Best time to visit: Spring, fall.

Flow: Variable, but rarely dry.

Waterway: Flint Creek, a tributary to the Canandaigua Lake Outlet.

Time: 40 minutes to an hour to see both falls and walk back.

Seasons/Hours: Year round, dawn till dusk.

Parking: Parking for 6 cars in the lot off of Rt-96 at the trail-head.

Admission: Free.

Handicap accessibility: No.

Pets: Allowed on leash.

Accommodations: Maps; information kiosk; hiking trail; kayaking on Flint Creek; cycling trail; parking.

Description

AKA: Ontario Pathways Falls, Flint Creek Falls

Flint Creek has its beginnings in the Italy Hill region southeast of Canandaigua Lake near Middlesex and heads 25 miles north and into the Canandaigua Outlet at the village of Phelps. With its wide basin, moderate slope and consistent flow, the creek helped pioneers settle this region by powering a variety of mills and allowing for growing industry. Double Drop Falls is supposedly the site of at least one of these mills, with only a few hidden signs of their existence left today.

The trail system that leads to the falls is reclaimed land, once part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system and now a clean and level multi-use path that cuts south along the creek. Thanks to the efforts of Ontario Pathways, Inc, a non-profit centered in Canandaigua, the namesake trail is open to anyone as long as they respect the property and others who utilize it. The organization, since its inception in 1994, has purchased land, rebuilt bridges, kiosks and parking lots, and cleared and maintained 23 miles of the 12 foot wide trail. The result is a highly enjoyable sliver of reclaimed nature that allows for excellent recreation opportunities, access to the waterfalls of Flint Creek, a place for nature to thrive in the developing Finger Lakes Region, and a natural buffer for Flint Creek from neighboring development and agriculture.

Although not a grand drop, the first falls along the trail carries a lot of water, even in the dry days of summer. Its roar can be heard quite a distance down the trail and the banks are a nice break for those walking along. The massive limestone cuts of rock that shape the falls also line the embankment, allowing for people to get right up to the creek for a closer look and make for interesting photography compositions. For the quick and easy walk to get to the falls, it is certainly worth checking out.

The second falls is easily reached further south along the trail just upstream from an old rusty rail bridge and crumbling trestle. Not much of a falls, it barely reaches 3 ft high, but since you are already here, take a quick look.

Hiking / Walking Trails

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.5 miles to the second falls and then back.

Markings: Clearly marked trail.

Description: The Ontario Pathways Organization has done a fine job maintaining this easygoing trail for multiple use. Hikers, bikers and horse-back riders can all enjoy this 19 mile long, 12-foot wide trail. Although some sections are detoured around private property, that is no concern to folks who are here to see just the waterfalls.

From the parking area and information kiosk, head south. After about 1,300 ft, cross a wooden bridge. 600 ft down the trail you will begin to hear the first waterfall. Scramble down the embankment to get a closer view. The land across the creek is private. The second waterfall is about 900 ft further south along the trail, just past the old railroad trestles. It is located just upstream from the rusty metal bridge that takes you across Flint Creek. This is the last waterfall on the trail. Turn around and head back the way you came.

Map: Trail-MapInteractive.

Double Drop Falls Interactive Map

History

The town of Phelps began as the district of Sullivan (after General John Sullivan) and was changed to Phelps (after town pioneer Oliver Phelps) when it was founded in 1796.

The village of Phelps began when one of the first settlers of the town, Seth Dean and Oliver Phelps, erected a grist mill on Flint Creek in 1792. In 1812, Luther and Francis Root and Erastus Butler constructed a large woolen mill in the village. The mills and hodgepodge of industries that relied on them brought great prosperity to the village, growing its population to over 5 thousand. It was around this time that postal routes and railroads arrived, further opening the village to remote markets. The Pennsylvania Railroad’s Northern Region of lines passed through Phelps (at what is now the Ontario Pathways trail) connecting Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with the resorts at Sodus Point on Lake Ontario.

Ontario Pathways began acquiring sections of the railroad in 1993 with the completion of the pedestrian bridge over 5&20 happening in 2006. The organization keeps it in tip-top shape, and organizes several annual events along the trail.

Double Drop Falls in early spring.

Double Drop Falls Media

Interesting Stuff

Ewww…What’s that smell?

When the wind is blowing gently from the west, that rotten egg smell is from the village of Clifton Springs. Natural sulfur springs in the village have been used for health spas since the early 1800s for religious, holistic, and modern medical treatment. Is there a waterfall in the village? Not anymore. One of the spas was built over the sole waterfall.

What’s that (slightly appetizing) smell?

It just may be sauerkraut. With its beginnings in 1967, the Phelps Sauerkraut Festival has been an annual celebration of this pickled and fermented cabbage. Why? During Phelp’s industrial boom it was one of the largest producers of sauerkraut in the world. No more ‘kraut factories operate in Phelps, but the memory lingers on with this annual 4-day festival held the first weekend in August. More info.

Pumpkin Trail

In recent years, Ontario Pathways has hosted the Great Pumpkin Walk in Mid-October. The event turns a mile long section of the trail into a fantastically spooky gallery of jack-o-lanterns. More info.

A closeup of Double Drop Falls on Flint Creek in Phelps, NY

Photography Tips

Shoot wide

  • These falls are wide and not very high, so they will not fill the camera’s frame very well. Either include more foreground and put the falls in the top of the frame, or include a dramatic sky if it’s there.

Low flow

  • In low flow, these falls have a lot of character. Zoom in and photograph all the little drops and details of the falls.

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.  Check out the article for the all the details.

More tips

  • See the Articles for more photography tips.

Who to Contact

Ontario Pathways, Inc.
PO Box 996
Canandaigua, NY 14424
Phone: (585) 234-7722
ontariopathways.org

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