SheQuaGa Falls, Montour Falls
GPS Coordinates: 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 are a few dedicated spots along the road in front of the park. Plenty of side streets to park along within walking distance. Check the signs.
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
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.
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.
Hiking / Walking Trails
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.
There’s more to the falls than what you can see here. If you drive up to the Mill St bridge, you can see a few additional drops upstream, but unfortunately there’s no place to park for a longer look.
Maps: Interactive map.
Shequaga Falls Interactive Map
Montour Falls, like the village of 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.
A historical marker notes: that around 1820, Louis Philippe, who would later become the last king of France, toured the Finger Lakes region and made a sketch of the falls which is on display at the Louvre Museum in France. Well, the sign is wrong. The sketch was most likely done by his brother, the Duc Monpenier, and that and any relevant artwork created by the family pertaining to Schyuler County was stolen or destroyed when the communists burned down most of the Royal Family’s home in 1971. It’s possible the work still exists today, somewhere, but definitely not in the Louvre.
Shequaga Falls Media
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
- Shoot from the road-side end of the park to include the sign and scenery and to give scale to the falls. The down-side is that the bottom of the falls will be clipped by the barrier.
- Shoot from the barrier to include the bottom of the falls, but you won’t be able to see the top.
- This frothy waterfall sparkles in sunlight which will cause exposure problems. It is best to wait for an overcast sky for this one.
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.
- See the Articles for more photography tips.
Who to Contact
Shequaga Falls Park
Town of Montour
Havana Glen Road
P.O. Box 57
Montour Falls, NY 14865
Phone: (607) 535-9476