New York is home to hundreds of incredible waterfalls, but there are likely none quite like Medina Falls.
Medina Fall is located in the Orleans County community of Medina. This community is located along the Erie Canal and sits roughly halfway between Niagara Falls and Rochester.
What makes Medina Falls so unique is that it is located on a stream that passes below the Erie Canal and the viewing area for this natural waterfall is from the canal’s towpath. If there is another waterfall like this one in New York, I haven’t heard of it.
While Medina Falls isn’t one of New York’s roadside waterfalls, it’s very easy to reach if you know where to look.
The waterfall can be found on the northern banks of the Erie Canal a short distance west of downtown Medina. In fact, if you wanted to walk to this waterfall from town, it would only take you about 15 minutes to do so.
However, for those driving, a closer parking area can be found in a dirt area at the following coordinates: 43.222678, -78.382270.
If this lot is full, you can also park in State Street Park on the opposite side of the canal and walk over the bridge on Horan Road to reach the waterfall.
From the dirt parking area on the northern side of the canal, walk the short distance down to the water. At the canal, you’ll see a few benches and a board that offers a bit of information about the area.
If you are facing the canal (with your back to your car and the bridge to your left), turn right and walk away from the bridge.
The first views of Medina Falls are located only about 100 feet down the trail, though you’ll need to walk maybe double that to reach the best views of this scenic waterfall.
While you might think that Medina Falls is an overflow for the Erie Canal, like nearby Holley Canal Falls, this is actually a natural waterfall along Oak Orchard Creek, a tributary of Lake Ontario.
That being said, the Erie Canal does overflow into the creek on the southern side of the canal, so this is a waterfall that isn’t likely to dry up when the canal is full.
Some sources list Medina Falls as being upwards of 40 feet in height. While I think it’s probably closer to 20-30 feet tall, it’s a bit hard to tell for sure because you view the waterfall from above and at a distance of about 200 feet.
Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful sight and the views from the canal’s towpath are quite good.
If you look closely, you’ll notice the remnants of an old dam that powered some mills in the area. Given its proximity to the canal, it’s likely that these mills were quite profitable during the Erie Canal’s heyday.
While there is probably a way to get down to the base of Medina Falls, there are no obvious trails down to the base, and the drop off of the canal’s towpath means it would be quite difficult to create your own path down.
Because of this, you’ll almost certainly have to view Medina Falls from a distance. However, given how easy it is to reach this waterfall, this is still a fantastic spot to visit.
It’s also worth noting that the sides of the canal here are rather sparse. On the one side, there is no railing at all along the water’s edge. On the other side, you’ll find a steep drop off over the aqueduct to the creek below, though there is a barrier here.
You’ll want to be especially careful here if you are visiting with children or pets due to these hazards. Fortunately, the trail itself is quite wide, so most will have no issues whatsoever with staying on the path.
While here, also take some time to enjoy the beauty of both the town of Medina and the Horan Street Bridge. These sights from the towpath near the waterfall make this quite a stunning spot to visit.
Overall, Medina Falls is a great little spot to check out in the Greater Niagara Region. In fact, if you find yourself traveling between Niagara Falls and Rochester, I’d definitely plan a short diversion to see this waterfall.
While it might not be worth going far out of your way to see (unless the architecture of the aqueduct is of especial interest to you), this is a great waterfall to visit while in the area. Even better, combine it with a visit to the aforementioned Holley Canal Falls and the nearby Clarendon Falls for a fun few hours of easy-to-reach waterfalls.
Looking for even more spots to visit nearby? Check out my favorite things to do in Buffalo, the Jell-O Museum, the Erie Canal Discovery Center, and the Lockport Locks Cruise on the Erie Canal.
[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]