If you’re looking for the best Finger Lakes waterfalls to check out in New York, then the truth is that there’s dozens of options that are easy to find, but the top 13 are listed here.
Here are the 13 best waterfalls in Finger Lakes (used to be 11):
- Hector Falls.
- Triphammer Falls.
- Glenora Falls.
- Shequaga Falls.
- Taughannock Falls.
- Rainbow Falls.
- Ithaca Falls.
- Robert H. Treman waterfalls.
- Wells Falls.
- Buttermilk Falls.
- Cascadilla Gorge Falls.
- Upper Watkins Glen waterfall.
- Havana Glen Falls.
All of these waterfalls are found in the Finger Lakes area of New York, particularly Seneca Lake and Ithaca, so the good news is that if you’re visiting Finger Lakes for one day (like I usually do) then you can probably see most of them. Here’s info on each waterfall:
1) Hector Falls:
You’ll find Hector Falls on the southern end of Seneca Lake in Finger Lakes.
It is a beautiful (off the road) 200+ foot cascading waterfall that is hard to miss and you can also hike down to it (it’s literally under the bridge by the road). The first time I visited Finger Lakes on my Appalachian Mountains road trip, I accidentally stumbled onto this beautiful waterfall.
Parking is available right by the falls, but it is limited in space to about 3-4 cars. I’ve been fortunate enough to find parking here both times that I’ve visited this waterfall. When you stop here and hike down to it, you’ll find it continues on and on downstream and enters into Seneca Lake. And if you want to truly see how big it is (it’s over 200 feet of cascading waterfalls), then you can do so on the opposite end of Seneca Lake, for which there is a nice overlook available for. But you do have to do a 20-30 minute drive for that.
2) Triphammer Falls:
Ithaca, NY specifically within the Cornell University area.
This is a dam and man made waterfall that has 2 layers. It’s about 100 feet in width, and while the size of the falls isn’t as large as some of the other ones on this list, it’s still a beautiful sight to check out, especially in the fall (as is all of Finger Lakes for that matter).
I only saw this waterfall once on Pinterest and have always wanted to come here. Sadly, when I got my chance to visit Finger Lakes, I ended up exploring a different waterfall with similar characteristics and only later found out it was a different one (it’s on this list by the way). Never the less, Triphammer Falls is an absolute must see waterfall if you go to Finger Lakes. There’s a stunning combination of nature, a dam and an old, abandoned building next to the waterfall itself which makes for some cool scenery to explore and take pictures of!
3) Glenora Falls:
On Seneca Lake (western end).
Glenora Falls is a 100+ foot waterfall located very close to Seneca Lake but it’s also on private land which means you can only see it from a distance, off the road. It’s still worth seeing though because of how gigantic and beautiful it is. It’s a little bit north of Hector Falls (but on the opposite end of Seneca Lake). A lot of tourists and locals do parties there (including weddings) and for obvious reasons.
Here is a beautiful photo of Glenora Falls that I got on a recent visit I did to Finger Lakes:
Note: Here is a GPS to Glenora Falls but I have to warn you that it takes you into a private road which you cannot go into. You can still see the waterfall from the road and the house photo I showed above is the best spot for that.
4) Shequaga Falls (aka Motour Falls):
Town of Montour Falls (not far from Seneca Lake).
Shequga Falls is the waterfall I thought was Glenora Falls originally was and just like that one, it happens to be another in town waterfall you’ll find and at the same time, it’s about the same height as that one (also over 100 feet). It’s no wonder I thought they were the same! And if you have time, there’s another waterfall a few minutes away from Shequga Falls that’s called “Aunt Sarah’s Falls”. It’s also huge, but in a much less populated part of Montour and if the main falls (this one) is too crowded, Aunt Sarah’s Falls might be a good plan B waterfall to visit.
5) Taughannock Falls (one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Finger Lakes):
Taughannock Falls State Park, in Ulysses NY which is on the north eastern side of Seneca Lake.
Taughannock Falls is not just the tallest waterfall in Finger Lakes (over 200 feet) but it’s also one of the most popular and scenic. It can be explored from a top area which is easy to walk to as well as via 2 mile hike to the bottom of it which I believe is where you’ll get a better view of it. Just as well this is one of my favorite Finger Lakes waterfalls to see during fall foliage in New York. Aside from this attraction, there are also cool hiking trails to explore deeper into the gorge that this waterfall runs into.
6) Rainbow Falls (gorge waterfall):
Inside Watkins Glen State Park, specifically on the gorge trail.
Rainbow Falls itself isn’t very impressive in terms of height (only 30 feet high), but in terms of beauty and location, it’s a one of a kind waterfall in Finger Lakes worth exploring. What makes it get on my list is that it’s located inside one of the best state parks in New York in my opinion and that is Watkins Glen State Park.
Not only that, but this is also a gorge waterfall which you can walk under (I also have a post with many more Watkins Glen State Park photos of this area). Just as well, there’s other waterfalls right by it, making the whole look of Rainbow Falls just something that looks like a fantasy and you would honestly need to go there and see it for yourself to understand what I mean. I’ve been to this park twice so far and while there’s many beautiful spots there to see, Rainbow Falls is the one which takes my breath away every single time I’m there.
7) Ithaca Falls:
Within Ithaca, NY.
As far as I know, Ithaca Falls is one of the largest waterfall you’ll find in all of Finger Lakes (not the tallest though, as that would likely be Taughannock Falls). There’s many unique elements to this waterfall and the area you’ll find it in. One of those things is that from the parking lot, it’s a very easy 300 foot walk to reach the waterfall itself.
In fact, I’d say out of all the waterfalls I’ve seen in Finger Lakes, Ithaca Falls might be one of the easiest ones to hike to so if you’re in this area, don’t miss a chance to check it out. When you reach the base of it, you’ll feel it’s power and massive size. Be careful when walking up to it because the road and railings do end and the closer you get to the waterfall, the more slippery it’ll get.
8) Robert H. Treman waterfalls:
Robert H. Treman State Park (not far from Ithaca).
Robert H. Treman State Park is an amazing place where you can hike a gorge (about 3 miles one way) and explore different waterfalls on the path and the tallest one there is over 150 feet. I’ve included this region as the name vs the many waterfalls to see there (there’s actually 12 of them) because there are just so many, of all sizes to that you can check out.
To see them all, simply do the 3 mile gorge hike and it’ll take you close to all of them. There’s a way to do a loop trail in Robert H. Treman State Park so you can get different view points of each waterfall you see. Just make sure you pick up a map when you enter this park to do it. There is some hiking involved to do the gorge trail so be prepared for that, but it’s well worth it.
9) Wells Falls:
In my opinion, Wells Falls is one of the best looking waterfalls in Finger Lakes. It’s also right by a gorge and dam, and has a hike you can take down to it’s base. The hike is pretty short, but it can get a little steep so be ready for that. I originally mistook Wells Falls for Triphammer Falls which I mentioned earlier, but the good news is that both of them are only 10 minutes away from each other you can absolutely see both of them in one day.
10) Buttermilk Falls:
Buttermilk Falls State Park, NY.
Buttermilk Falls is the main waterfall you’ll find in Buttermilk Falls State Park and in addition to this 150+ foot cascading falls, there are at least 2 main sights worth checking out:
- The swimming hole right by Buttermilk Falls.
- The Gorge trail upriver from that waterfall which has you hike to at least 10 more beautiful waterfalls.
When I went here, the swimming hole was closed off for the season , but I did do the main gorge hike which I thought was amazing (and I highly recommend you do it too).
11) Cascadilla Gorge waterfall:
I wish I was able to explore this region when I was in Finger Lakes, but next time I go, this will be on my list. Cascadilla Gorge is a beautiful area, like Buttermilk Falls with a gorge trail, beautiful waterfalls and bridges which you can underneath and get great views of the nature area there. And of course, the main waterfall (Cascadilla waterfall) is well worth seeing and the beauty is that the length of this trail is short (it’s only under 1 mile long) and it’s entirely carved out in concrete so it’s easy to walk on for most people. The only thing is that there’s a lot of steps to walk on.
There are also other small and medium sized waterfalls when you talk on the main Cascadilla Gorge Trail, so the good news is that there’s plenty of them to see here (as well as many of the other ones on this list).
12) Upper Watkins Glen waterfall (a sort of secret spot):
West of Watkins Glen State Park, you have to park in the Upper Park area, then hike to it.
This particular 50+ foot waterfall is not an official location on Google, but I have included instructions on how to find it on my Watkins Glen State Park post which explains where to find it. The waterfall is amazing and it’s often uncrowded here because most people don’t actually know about it, plus there is a bit of a hike and short scramble required to get to the bottom area of it.
13) Havana Glen Falls:
It’s in Havana Glen Park which is only 5 minutes away from the town of Montour Falls.
Not only is the waterfall here stunning, but there is an easy and scenic (easy) hike to get there. This waterfall is also located in a very nice and serene park which is great has picnic tables, playgrounds, swings and much more. There is also a small swimming hole underneath Havana Glen Falls.
The best Ithaca waterfalls in this area:
Since Finger Lakes is divided into many regions, I decided to isolate the top 2 ones (Ithaca and Seneca Lake) and show you the top waterfalls there (as based on the above list).
For Ithaca waterfalls, here are the best ones:
- Wells Falls.
- Triphammer Falls.
- Ithaca Falls (largest one).
- Buttermilk Falls and every gorge waterfall in that park.
- All the waterfalls in Robert H. Treman.
The best Seneca Lake waterfalls in this area:
Seneca Lake is either the first or second most popular spot in Finger Lakes, and there are many beautiful waterfalls there to see too. Sometimes they are right by Seneca Lake but most of the time, you’ll find amazing ones in the parks near the lake.
Here’s my list of the top Seneca Lake waterfalls:
- Rainbow Falls and all other Watkins Glen Waterfalls.
- Hector Falls.
- Taughannock Falls (most popular waterfall in Seneca Lake and Finger Lakes).
- Glenora Falls.
Common questions about Finger Lakes waterfalls:
Which Finger Lake has the best waterfalls?
Seneca Lake has the best waterfalls in Finger Lakes including Hector Falls, Rainbow Falls and more.
How many waterfalls are in the Finger Lakes?
There are several dozen major waterfalls in Finger Lakes.
Does Seneca Falls have a waterfall?
There is no official Seneca Falls but there are waterfalls near the lake such as Hector and Glenora Falls.
Finger Lakes has much more than just waterfalls:
While the waterfalls in this area are stunning, the true beauty of Finger Lakes is everything put together: The nature, the towns, the region itself, the giant lakes and much more. If you do go, I would strongly recommend enjoying all of this vs just hopping between one waterfall and another. And if you’re an avid Finger Lakes traveler and wouldn’t mind sharing other waterfalls to check out in the region, I’m always open to new suggestions to add to my list!
I’ll be updating this list as it grows.