“Excelsior” is the motto of New York State, “Ever Upwards,” and this works for the glen.

A series of little waterfalls, the tallest is actually a thin cascade over one hundred feet tall.

First time I’ve hiked here.  A few miles from the much better-known Watkins Glen, but this one isn’t a park.

The “entrance” or mouth of the glen is unmarked, and unattractive, a narrow opening next to a highway, so it doesn’t attract many people. But one minute’s walk and it’s quiet and picturesque – the tiny waterfalls are great.

There are two other issues, though.

One, there’s very definitely sulfur in them there hills, and the stream smells of it.

Two, it’s a good place to break your neck. Don’t bring children.

It’s private land, and hiking is allowed, but no real trail in parts, so it’s a scramble over slick, crumbling shale and clay.  I’d advise real caution going up the stream bed, or along it, and normally I never say stuff like that.  This is a very slippery place, and one member of my party, who was being careful, stepped on a root and went down a slope. Fast.

Luckily a two-inch sapling snagged her before she went over and hit the rocks, and nothing broken.

And just as important, she wasn’t carrying my camera, so everything was ok in the end.  (Kidding!)

The Finger Lakes Trail passes close by, but it’s been routed away from the glen, and you won’t see most of the falls by staying on it.  But if you’re very, very careful, and don’t mind a whiff of sulfur, the falls are really nice.


Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, photography, Upstate New York

Walks Around The Finger Lakes. Late Spring in Excelsior Glen.


19 thoughts on “Walks Around The Finger Lakes. Late Spring in Excelsior Glen.

    • I live less than an hour away, and don’t remember hearing anyone mention Excelsior, one reason I think, on a hot day, the sulfur smell is probably stronger, it wasn’t too bad the day we were there. Watkins Glen is pretty cool, and fun to walk behind the waterfalls.

  1. Living in the arid flatlands of Australia’s Mallee your photographs are a welcome visual and mental relief … keep ’em coming .. and thanks!
    In addition, as a fan of Thomas Perry’s ‘Jane Whitfield’ series of books, seeing the environment where much of the action is set really adds another level.

  2. I think you’d enjoy this fellow’s photos of Watkins Glen and the surrounding area. There are several posts on either side of this one that are just as lovely. It’s fun bumping into Watkins Glen again here on your post. I laughed at the reference to sulphur. Up in the Texas Panhandle, water contains gypsum, and is nearly undrinkable. They call it “gyp water,” which is kind of an interesting phrase: suggesting as it does that Mother Nature is gypping her people.

    I especially like the first and third photos. They remind me of the waterfall at Saltillo, Mexico — the only real waterfall I’ve ever seen. I don’t count overflow streaming off Houston freeway overpasses during a thunderstorm.

    • Very nice photos. I’ve walked in Watkins Glen my whole life, and it must be the most-photographed corner of Upstate. Maybe instead of birds, I’ll start photographing photographers! I actually like it best in the winter, when most of the trail along the stream is closed, but the trails alongside aren’t, and there aren’t any crowds. It’s never failed to be a nice place to visit.
      One lake over to the east is Ithaca, with waterfalls in and around the city. And little ones up every ravine, in the spring.
      There were a whole lot of mineral springs in an east-west band across NYS. Saratoga was the most famous, and that water is pretty tasty, but Avon, Clifton Springs, Ballston Spa, Dansville, and lots of other towns had mineral springs, sometimes full of sulfur, with big hotels and spas in the 1800’s. Before the Civil War, a lot of southerners would summer there, and drink and bathe in the stuff for weeks, I’ve never braved a glass, it really stinks. It is antibacterial, so probably helped some people, with their health, if not their social life. I guess there’s new interest in sulfa again, due to antibiotic-resistant germs.

      • Ironically, I’m allergic to sulfa — one of the few things I can’t have. I have no idea what happens to me, but from the time I was a kid, I was told that I can’t have it: period. I must have missed the reaction.

        • I looked on a medical website, and you’re in a rare 3 percent of the population, and it looks like you can have a pretty serious reaction – if they start using this stuff widely again, maybe one of those alert bracelets would be a good idea. I’ve seen pictures from WWII and Vietnam, with medics pouring it into wounds as they bandage people up

          • OK good to know! I never paid much attention in chemistry class. So sulfa and sulfites contain sulfur compounds, but even if you react to sulfa, you’re probably safe to indulge in some pretty stinky mineral baths. I know someone in my family had an “allergy or allergy-like reaction” to sulfites, different still, I guess, and a common food preservative, and usually added to red wine, so among other dire consequences, she believed she could only drink Beaujolais Nouveau, which has almost none

    • Very interesting! I’ve never seen those dances in person, and in this country, they’re getting ready to ban anything Moorish of course
      No, not kidding about wine, they add sulfites to most wines, I think, and that seems to give some people problems. Because Beaujolais is meant to be used quickly, and not aged, it’s often got the least additives. So the perfect thing to drink while soaking in your sulfur-water bath.

  3. Beautiful waterfalls and beautiful photographed. I like, when it is visible swimming water. Across the application of long times of the exposure, on the most of the photograph swimming water reminds cotton wool instead of the rapidly swimming stream.

    • Thank you very much! I’m still a beginning photographer, and just starting to experiment with shutter speeds. Last year we had a drought, and we missed these, we’re enjoying the waterfalls even more this year.
      Dziękuję Ci bardzo! Nadal jestem fotografem początkującym i dopiero zaczynając eksperymentować z szybkością migawki. W zeszłym roku suszyliśmy, a tęsknię za tym, cieszymy się wodospadami jeszcze w tym roku.

  4. I’ve been to Taughannock Falls several times (I lived for the first half of 1971 in Union Springs) but, like so many other people, was unaware of Excelsior Glen. Gotta add it to the list of places to visit.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s