Emery Park Falls
GPS: North Emery Falls: (N 42.71996 / W 78.59854)
Emery Falls: (N 42.71549 / W 78.59336)
South Emery Falls: (N 42.70917 / W 78.60321)
Harrigans Falls: (N 42.70871 / W 78.60385)
Directions: From Buffalo: Take NY-400 South toward E Aurora/W Seneca/NY-16.
At South Wales, turn right onto Emery Rd and follow it for 1 mile. Emery Rd bisects the park.
Use the Google Maps links below to find a parking spot that best suits the falls you want to visit.
Parking: Depending on which waterfalls you want to see, you may want to hop between parking lots. If walking is your plan, you want the large lot near the baseball diamond and maintenance area. This lot is also right next to Emery Falls. Google Map.
There’s a small lot next to the pavilion at North Emery Falls on the northern loop. Google Map.
For the 2 falls at the south end of the park, I recommend the long roadside lot in the middle of the park. Google Map.
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
Number of falls: 4.
Size/Types: The waterfalls in the park are located on two seasonal tributaries that run down the hill and through the park.
North Emery Falls is a steep sloping cascade of about 30 ft high down shale stone. It’s located at the north end of the park.
Emery Falls is a 40 ft high cascade down shale and limestone.
South Emery Falls is a 15 ft high cascade that’s cut at a 45 degree angle with the creek.
Harrigans Falls is an approximately 10 ft high gradual cascade.
Best time to visit: During snowmelt, spring or after periods of heavy rain.
Waterway: Two unnamed tributaries to East Branch Cazenovia Creek. They start just up the hill from the park and aren’t any more than 1.5 miles long. They join with East Branch Cazenovia Creek in the valley below, which flows northwest past East Aurora to where it converges with the West Branch, becoming just Cazenovia Creek. It continues northwest into the city of Buffalo, where it empties into the Buffalo River just before the Buffalo River empties into Lake Erie.
Time: Over an hour to see all 4 falls.
Seasons/Hours: 7 am – Dusk (Winter Hours: Labor Day through Memorial Day) or 9pm (Summer Hours: Memorial Day through Labor Day).
Handicap Accessibility: Many park facilities are accessible, but close views of the falls are from trails or viewing areas that are not.
Pets: Must be licensed and kept on leash no longer than 7 feet at all times. You must clean up after them.
Accommodations: Trails; picnic facilities; playgrounds; restrooms; baseball diamond; tennis court; disc golf; downhill and cross-country skiing; lodge; pavilions.
Emery Park, in South Wales is a large county park that features dozens of picnic pavilions, a disc golf course, ski slopes, hiking trails, ball fields, playgrounds, and more. While most locals know it for its beginner winter slopes and cross-country skiing, being just outside of Buffalo, it gets a lot of summer traffic for parties and gatherings that need one of its many picnic shelters or lodges.
Within the park there are two seasonal creeks that flow part of the year, creating 4 refreshing waterfalls. While the flow is typically low, the waterfalls are sizable enough for a closer look. From 10 to 40 ft in height, while not the prettiest of falls, they stand out as being easily accessible and pretty close to each other. If you happen to be in the area in the wet season, it’s worth spending a sunny afternoon in the park. If you are here for the winter activities, if there’s a slight thaw that day, the falls may be flowing, and a quick drive to the closest parking area near them is all it takes to see.
Hiking / Walking Trails
Markings: Trails are marked. The many park shelters make for good navigational landmarks.
Distance: You can easily drive to a parking area near each of the waterfalls and shorten the walk. If you were to park in one spot and walk, it’s about a 1.5 mile loop.
Description: North Emery Falls is easily accessed from the northern loop. You can park on the roadside or at the northern-most shelter. It’s just a short walk from the shelter. Follow the road signs to Shelter 4 to find the northern park loop. Note that this loop doesn’t seem to appear on google maps (as of 2021).
Emery Falls is somewhat in the middle of the park. The closest parking is near the baseball diamond and maintenance building (near Shelter 1). From that lot, cross the road south and follow the gorge east (left) to find the falls. The falls are directly south from Shelter 1.
South Emery Falls and Harrigans Falls can be found along the Elizabeth Grove hiking trail on the south side of the park. The trailhead is behind and across from Shelter 15. At the west apex of the trail, instead of looping back, take the spur trail that continues west with the gorge. You will come upon South Emery Falls near a shelter. Keep going upstream 200 ft or so to Harrigans Falls.
Map: Use the Interactive map to make sense of all of this.
Emery Park Falls Interactive Map
Settlers arrived in 1806 to what was known as Willink at the time. The towns of Wales, Holland, and Aurora were later formed from it in 1818. The village of South Wales is actually in both Aurora and Wales, but the park is completely within the town of Aurora’s boundaries.
Much of this land was originally owned by Colonel Josiah Emery (1784-1873), who came to Western New York from Vermont in 1811. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 (and battle of Lundy’s Lane) and worked a farm on this land. Some of his descendants maintained that tradition, while a few others went on to become prominent lawyers or state Supreme Court justices.
The 175 acre estate was eventually sold to the county by Helen B. Emery in 1925. The county developed the land into a premiere day use park with shelters, bridges, gardens, and an amphitheater. The old Emery homestead was converted into a museum and restaurant.
Today, the park has grown to over 457 acres.
Emery Park Falls Media
More coming soon…
Early spring or fall
- At least one of the falls is largely obscured by foliage. You can either risk scrambling down the gorge to get a better view or plan on visiting in early spring or late fall when the trees are more bare.
Explore the park
- Don’t ignore all the interesting architecture of the pavilions, and oddities along the trail. The park is huge and has lots of interesting sights if you explore a little.
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 allows 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 all of the details.
- See the Articles for more photography tips.