A cool waterfall on a hot day

Is there anywhere you'd rather be today than under a roaring mountain cascade?
Grimes Glen
Photo by Lisa Hughes
Siblings Lydia and Jacob Martin of Naples take their dogs for a walk on a footpath across the waters of First Falls, one of two cascades at Grimes Glen in Naples.

This gem of an Ontario County park has been left purposely in its rustic setting. Grimes Glen, in Naples, can be found off Main Street at the end of residential Vine Street. The trail is a short half mile level walk that starts at a newly decorated bridge. At the trailhead parking area, there is an information kiosk, restroom facilities, and four picnic tables—and that’s it.

The glen is a hands-on science lesson in being attentive to nature all around you. Perhaps you will pick up an interesting fossil, discover aquatic insects, and locate a shale grotto near one of the two falls.

Covering thirty-two acres, this is a classic Finger Lakes glen—a long, deep gorge that cuts through countless layers of shale and limestone as it makes its way into the village. Long before white pioneers settled here, the Seneca tribe of the Iroquois Nation ruled the region.

Although there are a few small cascade along the way, the most notable are referred to as First and Second Falls. First Falls is steep, pouring over the side of the glen and spreading out over moss-and-grime-covered shale layers. It fills the gorge with what can be best described as “the voice of sparkling water.” 

Further up, the Second Falls roars in comparison. It’s smaller and generally carries more water. If you take a step back and look high, you will see the top half of the falls, a powerful chute that seems to hug the gorge wall as it curves around the bend. The chute breaks up a bit as it flows down the bottom part of the falls. The right side maintains a powerful jet of water. The gorge opens up below the falls, and forms a shallow wading pool below the falls that stretches across a grotto. You’ve found the Devil’s Bedroom.

There is a third set of falls, but it is on private property, off-limits to hikers.

For years, an informal volunteer group of Naples residents, Friends of Grimes Glen, maintained the area out of sheer love for the environment. With help from the Finger Lakes Land Trust, the site officially became an Ontario County park in 2008.

The county’s aim is to keep Grimes Glen like it was 200 years ago. The public can continue to enjoy the crystal clear waters, steep cliffs, and cascades for future generations.

Kay Thomas is a freelance writer living in the Genesee Valley. Her work can be found at overaroundhills.blogspot.com. She is also the author of a book of essays called And One More Thing.


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