GPS/Locations: Wolcott Falls: (N 43.22155 / W 76.81165)
Historic marker: (N 43.22152 / W 76.81139)
Viewing platform: (N 43.22140 / W 76.81212)
Directions: The easiest way to get there is to take Rt. 104 and head north on Whiskey Hill Rd, which becomes New Hartford St. as you enter the village. Make a right on East Main St. (where the fountain is located) and then a left on to Mill St. The park entrance will be on your left.
Or use Google Directions.
Parking: The park entrance leads right into a parking area with spaces for about 12 cars.
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
Number of falls: 1.
Size/Types: A beautiful 34 foot drop that free-falls in a wide ribbon for little more than half its length and then tumbles the rest of the way down steep shale. Lit at night with white light.
Best time to visit: Year round.
Flow: Moderate to high.
Waterway: Wolcott Creek, which begins nearly 6 miles to the south near Tamarack Swamp in Butler. It flows mostly through farmland, picking up pesticides and fertilizers along the way. In the village of Wolcott it is dammed into Mill Pond, falls over Wolcott Falls, and heads north into the Lakeshore Marshes, into Port Bay and eventually Lake Ontario.
Time: 1 minute from the lookout deck, 10 minutes taking the trail to the bottom.
Seasons/Hours: Year round.
Parking: Roughly 12 cars.
Handicap accessibility: The observation deck is.
Pets: Allowed on leash.
Accommodations: Restrooms; picnic tables; playground; hiking trail; pavilion; historic information kiosk; historic marker; observation deck. There are shops and restaurants not too far from there in the village.
Wayne County is pretty flat. I’m not sure if it is the flattest county in NY, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any interesting gorges in that region.
I’ve been in the village of Wolcott numerous times. This classic upstate small-town, 3 miles south of Port Bay, has its share of little shops and restaurants, with the town centerpiece being the enchanted “Venus Rising From the Sea” fountain at the corner of Main and New Hartford. It was a surprise to me to find a sizable waterfall nestled within a small gully just down the street.
Now protected in a barely noticeable town park, accurately named Wolcott Falls Park, this waterfall is fed by Mill Pond, a surprisingly dirty man-made reservoir from the days of area gristmills. It’s obvious from the historic markers and information present on site that this falls was once the true centerpiece of the town, powering numerous mills and allowing the early Wolcott economy to prosper.
Today the park highlights both the natural beauty of the falls and its past with a newly built observation deck overlooking the falls and an information kiosk spotlighting Wolcott history. The falls is lit at night and visitors only have to travel a few feet from the parking lot to the viewing area to catch a glimpse.
Despite the scum-coated creek bed the falls itself is quite beautiful. It drops more than half its height in a wide ribbon and then tumbles the rest of the way down steep shale. Some algae growth on the rock wall where the water crashes into the rock adds some interesting color to the scene.
Hiking / Walking Trails
From the observation deck
Distance: Less than 20 feet.
Markings: Look for the wooded deck.
Description: From the parking area, head towards the information sign and the wooden deck. It’s that easy.
To get below the falls
Difficulty: Moderate (slippery trail)
Distance: Less than 200 feet from the south end of the crest.
Description: Head away from the parking lot, past the pavilion and playground, and go towards the back right of the park and look for an opening, the trail-head, in the wooded area. This trail winds back towards the falls within the glen. During the spring and summer, this short trail has a wide variety of beautiful plant life. After rain or early spring it can get pretty slippery, use caution.
Wolcott Falls Interactive Map
The falls was previously known to Native Americans of this region as Ganadsgo, meaning “Leaping Waters.” The town of Wolcott was founded in 1807 and named after Governor Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut, who helped broker the Massachusetts/New York border. In 1809, Jonathan Melvin, a Revolutionary War veteran, moved here from Phelps, NY, and built a gristmill and sawmill on 500 acres surrounding this site in 1810. A benevolent man, he donated some of his property to build a church and school, which helped further establish the town. The mill remained until it burned down in the 1960’s. Other mills once stood in this vicinity, but little evidence of their existence remains. In the milling era, shipping and travel funneled through Lake Ontario, vis Sodus Bay at Sloop Landing on the east.
During the 19th century, the Iron industry was strong here, with the furnaces and shipping taking advantage of the region’s Clinton deposit, an iron-rich layer of rock located in upstate New York. This layer of rusty stone emerges just east of here, and why they call that nearby tributary, Red Creek. The completion of the Erie Canal moved the region’s shipping and transportation from the lake to the south, and iron was shipped from Wolcott to Clyde, NY for further work.
On August 26, 1876 a fire broke out along Mill St, north of Main St, destroying six businesses adjacent to the mill pond: a shoe shop, foundry, drugstore, flour and feed shop, undertaker, and apartments.
Modern Wolcott’s industry is dominated by agriculture (especially orchards) and food processing.
Wolcott Falls Media
Venus Rising from the Sea
The village centerpiece, this painted cast iron statue was installed when municipal plumbing arrived in 1913. It was erected upon a natural spring that was originally used as a public water source and drinking fountain for town residents and their animals. When the town tapped into municipal plumbing, this fountain was erected to continue to provide residents and their animals with a publicly accessible source of water. Over the years it has been painted with numerous color schemes: from bronze to present day natural colors.
To the north is a massive glacial drumlin on the lake cut in half by lake erosion creating beautiful clay peaks and amazing views of Lake Ontario.
A wonderful lakeside winery located just minutes away from the state park. It’s the only winery you’ll find in this area of the state. Website.
Photographing Wolcott Falls
- The observation deck is the perfect spot to shoot the falls.
- You may be able to get a shot of the falls peeking through the trees from the grass between the observation deck and the road.
- The observation deck is the perfect spot for a tripod and a long exposure to catch the falls lit at night.
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.