A view of Hector Falls from the roadside at NY-414
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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: North of Watkins Glen; in the Town of Hector; on Seneca LakeSchuyler County; New York.

Maps: Google MapTopographicInteractive.

GPS/Locations: Hector Falls and Rt 414 : (N 42.41802 / W 76.86677)
Old Mill Falls on Hector Falls Creek: (N 42.41887 / W 76.85044)

Directions: From the village of Watkins Glen, take Rt 414 north along the east side of Seneca Lake for 2.5 miles. You will pass over a bridge, look to the right for the falls. Keep in mind that people on this road are going at 45-65 mph. Slowing or stopping unexpectedly could be dangerous. If you are looking for the falls, slow down and put on your flashers.

Or use Google Maps.

Parking: Park on the shoulder of Rt 414 either before or after the falls. Room for about 5 cars. Be careful as traffic along this highway goes no less than 500mph and everyone just looks at their phones while they drive.

Weather

HECTOR WEATHER

Information / Accessibility / Accommodations

Number of falls: 1

Size/Types: Although most commonly recorded as 165 ft high, Hector Falls, can be considered a lot taller, if you begin counting the series of cascading drops from what’s commonly seen of the falls. Over 250 feet of waterfalls combined cascade down this hill from near the top and into Seneca Lake. The first third is a sequence of small and narrow, foamy cascades, one right after the other. As the falls approaches Rt 414, it spreads out over one wide triangular cascade that dips under the highway, and down another wide cascade, and then another, past some cottages. The final stretch is yet another fanning cascade, the widest of all. From the road, you can see just the segment above. From the lake and across it, you can see most of the falls, except the upper chain of cascades.

Best time to visit: Spring, fall and after heavy rain.

Flow: Low. Dry summers will leave just a trickle.

Waterway: Hector Falls Creek (or Logan Creek, depending on the source). It begins in a wetland about 5 miles north east of here in Reynoldsville. It ends at the lake.

Time: A few minutes.

Handicap accessibility: Yes.

Seasons/Hours: Roadside; Year-round; all day, all night

Admission: Free.

Pets: Not a good idea to have your pet out along this busy highway.

Accommodations: None.

A view of Hector Falls from across Seneca Lake. NY-414 bisects the falls about half-way down.

Description

Hector Falls is a beautiful and gigantic waterfall that tumbles over a broad expanse of shale and limestone rock as it makes its way down to Seneca Lake. Only the upper third (about 50 ft of length) is visible from the Rt 414 roadside or the creek bed. The lower portions are on private property and only visible to the public from watercraft. Seeing the massive cascade in its complete form, is worth renting a boat or joining a tour. Try Captain Bill’s for hourly tours or nightly dinner tours.

Hector Falls is a unique falls to the area in that it is so large, broad, and in the open. Hector Falls Creek (or Logan Creek) drains a large area, including portions of the nearby Finger Lakes National Forest. Water flow can be reduced to a trickle during summer months, but there should at least be some water tumbling over the rock face. Since it only takes a few minutes to visit from Watkins Glen, we consider it a must-see for this area.

A wide shot of Hector Falls from the other side of Seneca Lake

Hiking / Walking Trails

Difficulty: Easy. The only challenge to seeing this waterfall is not causing an accident when you come upon it going 55mph and need to stop before driving past it. Be careful and use your hazards to save the car behind you.

Markings: None.

Distance: Roadside.

You can either view the falls roadside from the bridge or take a quick walk down to the left under the bridge to view the falls or take pictures from the creek bed.

Map: Interactive.

Hector Falls Interactive Map

History

For the history of Seneca Lake, see the Seneca Lake page. For some history on Watkins Glen, check out this historical timeline.

The town of Hector was first settled as early as early as 1790 by a family of 3, but records are incomplete.

Samuel Seely built the first grist mill here in 1801.  It was the first mill constructed in Schuyler County. Over time numerous mills and factories were constructed along Hector Falls Creek, giving rise to the moniker Factory Falls. Potash production was the chief industry on the creek throughout the industrial revolution.

An engraving depicting Hector Falls, found in the Descriptive Guide Book to Watkins Glen
A view of Hector Falls seen from Seneca Lake. NY-414 crosses over the upper portion of the falls.

Hector Falls Media

Hector Falls Videos

YouTube video

Interesting Stuff

Explore Seneca Lake

There are many more waterfalls and things to do around the lake. Read our guide to Seneca Lake.

Photography Tips

Shooting wide

  • You can’t shoot from the middle of the road, so bring that wide angle lens to fit it all in.

I’m on a Boat!

  • The only way you can shoot all (or most) of this massive falls is to get on a boat and shoot it from the lake. You can also see it from the west side of the lake, from a few spots along State Route 14, but the haze lowers the contrast and resolution.

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

Schuyler County Visitors Center
100 N. Franklin St.
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Phone: 1-800-607-4552
schuylerny.com

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