Fall Foliage and Waterfalls in Western New York, October 2012


I lava it!!!
Jan 19, 2012
Fall Foliage and Waterfalls in Western New York, October 2012

Every year in October I headed out and visited some waterfalls and areas with near peak foliage conditions in Western New York. This year was totally different. First of all due to the severe drought the last six months the first colored leaves appeared end of August. By end of September almost all higher elevations were near peak and I still couldn't get out for an entire weekend because I had so much to do with College. Another factor was the lack of water for most parts of the year and almost all waterfalls were dried out. I was desperately waiting for some rain. And because I was moving to St. George end of the year this would be my last foliage and waterfall trip and I really wanted a whole weekend to revisit some of my favorite spots.
The rain finally arrived the first week of October and at least some of the popular waterfall parks got enough water that I decided to take my traditional foliage trip over Columbus Day weekend.
I booked a few campsites and immediately headed out right my last lecture on Friday afternoon.
Traffic was awful this weekend and I needed almost 1.5 hours to reach Letchworth State Park. Usually it takes only about an hour to get to the park. During the drive to the park the sky darkened and it looked a lot like rain. The forecast for tonight wasn't promising, 100 percent chance of rain, okay.
I reached my campsite and barely had set up my tent when it finally started to rain. Because it was too boring to sit in my tent all afternoon and evening I decided to visit Wolf Creek cascade not too far away. Because of the low hanging clouds it was almost dark when I drove through the forested area. Now and then I saw some nice patches of colored leaves. I parked near the cascade and had the entire area for myself. Usually you had to be really lucky to get a parking spot. I grabbed my camera gear and walked through the water. There was almost no water in Wolf Creek.


After I got my shots I walked a bit along the Rim Trail and scouted a few spots for tomorrow. I really love to talk pictures in a light rain. The colors are even more colorful and the contrast was amazing.


I drove along the Scenic Drive, stopped at a few view points and snapped a few shots near Archery Field. It was always one of my favorite Spots and the view down into the gorge was like always amazing. Patches of fog floated like ghosts near the Genesee River, I liked it a lot.


The Grand Canyon of the East


It started to rain harder and I finally decided to get back to my camp where I had a nice dinner. A few toads liked my spot too and sat next to my tent where I snapped a few shots.


It rained the whole night really hard and I could also hear a few rumbles of thunder.
I still had a tiny bit of hope for a sunrise, but it was raining in buckets, so I slept in. When I finally got up the rain had stopped and the sun tried to fight it's way back to the sky. I broke up camp and headed out into the park to visit some of my favorite spots. Unfortuantely this weekend was also the Art Festival weekend and the whole park was like a crazy circus and packed with people. I could only shook my head, this was absolutely insane.
Now and then I stopped at a few spots and took a few pictures.


Even Teatable Point was completely packed with folks, all picknick areas were occupied. I walked a bit along the Rim Trail and snapped a few shots of the colored leaves.


Eventually I reached one of the view points where you could see into the gorge with the Genesee River and Wolf Creek. The Genessee River was one of the main water courses in the area and the flowed South to North, only a few other rivers did the same.


There was so little water left in the river, unbelievable. Usually you could raft parts of the river, but not this year with the drought. I stopped again at the Wolf Creek parking lot and today I really had problems to get an empty spot. Again I walked along the creek bed and snapped a few shots.



Next stop again was Archery Field with it's view into the gorge. And it was definitely worth the stop. Due to the lack of an empty parking spot I needed to park half a mile away.



My next stop was at Inspiration Point. Here I had the first view of Middle Letchworth Falls in the distance. This part of the canyon was somehow less colored than the parts I visited before.


The area around Glen Iris Inn and parking area around Middle Falls was like a circus. Unbelievable!! I barely got a parking spot. I've never seen so many folks here in the park before. Usually it is a more relaxed atmosphere. I walked the short trail to Middle Letchworth Falls. I've never seen them so dry.


My next stop were the Upper Falls, but I had the worst light situation ever and so I headed to Shadow cascade nearby and snapped a few shots.


It was getting late soon so I decided to leave the park and headed to my next destination: Stony Brook State park, another wonderful waterfall destination. It was only a short drive to the park and soon I reached my campsite. It was one of the more secluded sites near the Gorge Trail, so I could get an early start tomorrow morning.


I enjoyed the evening at the campfire, but temperatures plummeted very soon into the 30ies and I was happy to have my warm down sleeping bag with me for this trip.
I broke camp early the next morning and packed my stuff into the car. Then I headed to the trail head. It was really chilly outside and totally looked like rain again. I actually prefered weather like that for shooting waterfalls, it was a lot easier.


I had the whole trail by myself and enjoyed the solitude. I decended into the gorge and after a quarter mile I reached an old bridge pillar where I turned off the trail and walked into the creek bed to my first waterfall destination. There was a bit of scrambling involved but I finally reached the first waterfall.


nice cairn


Back on the main trail I soon reached the next cascade.


With the colored leaves it looked really wonderful. I passed a few mini cascades and descendes further into the gorge. Somehow it smelled horrible in that particular spot and I couldn't help myself, it smelled awfully like skunk. I hoped there wasn't one looming around the next corner, waiting for me to spray me. And then I saw it!!! It sat in the middle of the trail on a stair step!! Boo!! :eek:
But it wasn't moving. Carefully I walked toward it, it still wasn't moving. It was definitely dead but the smell was awful. I quickly passed it and headed to the next waterfall nearby.



From there I walked in the creek bed for the rest of the trail and finally I reached the footbridge across it. The colored leaves were wonderfully reflected in the water, nice.


I crossed the bridge and snapped a few shots of the cascades behind it. It was also the point to return to the trail head, because it was basically the end of the trail.



Almost back at the trailhead I saw the first other hikers. Usually you have a lot of traffic in this park, especially during fall foliage and on a weekend. I was glad I had everything by myself. Back at the car I headed to my next destination. Alleghany State Park was roughly 70 miles away and basically my playground in Western New York. You can bike, hike, swim and canoe in the park, and there are also some nice bouldering spots. I was happy and exited to get back again.
Shortly before I reached the park it started to rain again. And it rained and rained and rained like hell. Luckily I had my tent set up within five minutes and hopped into it. There was nothing I could do so I read a bit and hoped the rain would stop soon.

But no way, it rained for hours and finally, shortly after sunset it stopped. Wow, what a big surprise. At least I could snap a shot of my tent and my favorite site.


I had dinner and the temperature soon dropped below freezing. An hour later it was still dry and when I checked the sky outside, it was totally clear. Wow, I haven't expected that. I quickly grabbed my camera and drove to nearby Redhouse Lake. Somehow I managed it to find a decent spot for some night shots but had to focus my camera in completely darkness. Not an easy task to do.


At least I got a few decent Milky Way shots and soon went back to camp. It was way too cold to stay out any longer.
The next morning I slept in and then slowly broke up camp. It was gradually warming up a bit and the sun was shining. At least something, so I could explore some of my favotite spots in the park before heading home.
I walked a bit along the bike path and took some foliage shots.


My next stop was Redhouse Lake again where I had perfect conditions. There also were some nice reflections in the lake.


I stopped near the Redhouse Inlet


and near Redhouse Dam.


I drove to some higher elevations and discovered a few nice spots with a lot of colored leaves.



On my way out the sun was gone again and it looked like rain again. I stopped at Quaker Lake and took a few very colorful foliage pictures. It was absolutely amazing. The colors were almost exploding. It was one of the most intense colors I've ever seen here. The last few years weren't so colorful.


After that final stop I headed back home and arrived at my place 90 minutes later just in time before the next rain storm began.
It was definitely a nice final fall foliage trip and even with the rain and cold temperatures I was able to get a few decent shots. So hopefully next year in Utah I can continue my tradition with the search for some colored leaves in the higher elevations and can't wait to see it.

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Wow!!! Such amazing colors and shots Yvonne!! I absolutely love these!!! :twothumbs:
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