Two of my favorite things to photograph are city skylines and waterfalls. However, it’s rare that you can photograph both in one shot. However, in downtown Rochester, New York, you can do just that.
High Falls in Rochester is one of five large waterfalls in the Genesee River. Three of these are located in Letchworth State Park and the other is Lower Falls, which is located a couple of miles downstream from High Falls. (There was also once a Middle Falls in Rochester, but that has been swamped by a power generating station.)
High Falls is located in the heart of downtown Rochester and offers the chance to not only see an incredibly impressive waterfall (It’s said to be almost 100 feet tall!) but also to see the skyline of this northern New York City. Even better, there’s a railroad bridge just over the waterfall, so railfans can also watch trains cross over the falls.
This waterfall is located on the northern end of town. The waterfall is only visible from crest-level, but there are trails and even a large bridge that provide great views of the waterfall.
High Falls is located along the Genesee River and drops approximately 100 feet into a large circular area at the base of the falls. It is roughly twice as wide as it is tall.
There are some old industrial buildings near the waterfall’s base that provide an interesting contrast to this natural spot and offer a glimpse into the historic past of the region. It was this waterfall that was the impetus for the settlement of the region, and the first mills in Rochester were set up to take advantage of its power.
While you can only view the falls from above, there are several great spots that are worth checking out while in the area.
The first is the Pont de Rennes Bridge. This steel bridge is over 850 feet long and sits well over 100 feet above the river. The bridge was completed over the Genesee River in 1891 and was used by vehicles until 1982. Since then, it’s been a pedestrian bridge.
From this bridge, there are head-on views of High Falls, though at a bit of a distance. As you walk across the bridge, the view changes, so definitely check out the entire length of the bridge if you can.
Another great spot to see the waterfall is from the High Falls Terrace Platform on the eastern side of the river.
From here, there is a panoramic view of the waterfall and the skyline of downtown Rochester. This is also a great spot to watch the sunset behind the waterfall.
The platform itself is located in a small green area along the Genesee Riverway Trail and is close to a small parking area for the waterfall.
The third area to check out is the Genesee Brew House. This is the restaurant and taproom for the famous Genesee Brewing Company, whose brewery is located in an adjacent building.
This brew house features an amazing view from its rooftop terrace. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a meal and/or a few beers while enjoying the beauty of Upstate New York.
Without a doubt, no visit to Rochester is complete without taking a few minutes to enjoy High Falls. This is one of the more impressive waterfalls in the Finger Lakes, and the ability to see the city’s skyline and trains behind the falls make this a unique spot to check out.
How to Get to High Falls in Rochester
High Falls is located in Rochester’s High Falls Historic District adjacent to the downtown area. The waterfall can be easily seen by walking from other attractions in the downtown area or for those exploring the Genesee Riverway Trail.
The best viewing area for High Falls can be found at the Pont de Rennes Bridge at the following coordinates: 43.162716, -77.615466.
For those looking for the closest access, there is a free parking area located at High Falls Terrace at the following coordinates: 43.163256, -77.613105.
There is also parking at the nearby Genesee Brew House but only park there if you are going to be taking in the view from their restaurant/taproom.