By Charlene S. Mixa
Waterfalls, a Deep Gorge & Lush Forest!
Our drive today takes us across the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes and its rich farmland on our way to Letchworth State Park. The park is a beautiful 17 mile gorge between Portage and Mount Morris, New York, renowned as the “Grand Canyon of the East”.
The Genesee River roars through the gorge with three major waterfalls with cliffs as high as 600 feet high and surrounded by lush forests. We stop by the Middle Falls which has great views of the Upper Falls and Middle Falls. Nature trails and paths wind through the forest giving more spectacular views of the multiple falls while stone walkways provide easy access to vantage points for viewing the falls for the less adventurous. The map guides us to various stopping points as we drive through the Park. The area was originally owned by William Pryor Letchworth and he built his home here, which is now the Glen Iris Inn. A great place to enjoy lunch, sorry we didn’t make arrangements to do that.
We particularly enjoy the museum with the excellent history of William Pryor Letchworth, his life and how he came to acquire the land and later establish the park. The William Pryor “Rules of Conduct” give insight into the quality person he was and serve as a great reminder to us in living our lives.
With 14 thousand acres along the Genesee River the Park has not only stunning scenery but miles of trails, swimming pools, and facilities. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do. As we reach the more northern end of the park, the river is now a trickle and the area opens up to a huge canyon. At the north end of the park is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dam at Mount Morris. Built in the late 1940’s, the Mount Morris Dam is the largest of its type east of the Mississippi River.
Truly a fantastic park, it can be visited multiple times with each visit bringing a new experience. We exit the park at Mount Morris checking in at Country Inn and Suites. The hotel has that country feel with modern amenities. Our room is spacious with a king bed, desk, a credenza plus cable TV. The Jacuzzi tub is inviting after a long day of walking and hiking in the park. On our multi-week trip we are always glad to have a mini fridge to get items out of the cooler. With a drive to Niagara Falls tomorrow we are glad to have the complimentary breakfast at the Country in to get us on our way. Now, we are definitely ready for dinner and a quiet evening if relaxation in our room.
The Genesee River Restaurant is conveniently next door to the Country Inn and Suites, so we walk to dinner. Originally known as The Genesee River Hotel, the Genesee River Restaurant and Reception Center has been run by the same family since 1962. Patrick Wills, the current owner, grew up in the business and purchased it from his uncle, Marty Estruch in 2008. In the warm dining room we enjoy excellent dinners and service. I am thrilled with my multi-cheese Mac ‘n Cheese after all the day’s activities. It’s been a full day and we are back in the room to check emails, plan the next stage of our trip and relax.
New York’s Finger Lakes region offers a wonderful variety of activities for travelers of all ages and interests. With its pristine lakes, beautiful rolling countryside, lush forests, and rich history there is much to see and do. We had a wonderful journey through New York’s Finger Lakes and Letchworth State Park is a fantastic finale. Visitors will find the Finger Lakes fun, fascinating and fabulous!
If you go:
Country Inn and Suites, 130 N. Main St., Mount Morris, NY 14510; 585-658-4080
Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, 309 Lake Street, Penn Yan, NY 14527; 315-536-7488 or 800.548.4386; www.fingerlakes.org
Genesee River Restaurant, 134 N. Main St., Mount Morris; 585.658.2949; geneseeriverrestaurant.com/
Letchworth State Park, 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427; http://nysparks.com/parks/79/details.aspx