If you love waterfalls, Tinkers Falls in the Labrador Hollow Unique Area is a spot that you have to visit.
Located less than 30 minutes from downtown Syracuse, this Finger Lakes waterfall is one of the most beautiful and fun to visit, especially when it’s flowing well.
That’s because Tinkers Falls is not only an impressive waterfall at roughly 50 feet in height, but it also plunges off of a beautiful ledge onto the rocks below. Even better, the trail for this waterfall passes directly behind this waterfall, offering amazing views as you are standing under the overhang behind the falls.
However, probably the best part of this waterfall is that it’s incredibly easy to reach and just about anyone can get at least a view of this amazing waterfall.
While most of the Labrador Hollow Unique Area is in Onondaga County, Tinker Falls lies just over the county line in Cortland County, New York.
There are miles of hiking trails within Labrador Hollow, including a portion of the North Country Trail. These trails lead to several vistas overlooking Labrador Pond as well as to Tinkers Falls.
The trail for Tinkers Falls starts along Route 91. The trail to the waterfall is about a quarter-mile long and both flat and wide. This makes it a great waterfall for the entire family to visit.
The trail runs along and up to the bank of Tinker’s Creek and offers a great view of the waterfall from this spot. While the trail continues on past this point, those looking for a quick and easy hike can simply stop at this spot and enjoy the view.
However, for those looking for a bit of an adventure, the Tinkers Falls Trail continues directly through the stream and up towards the falls.
Depending on water levels, it may or may not be possible to cross the stream without getting your feet wet. If you are lucky enough to visit on a day when the waterfall is flowing well, like I was, getting your feet wet is probably necessary to cross the stream.
On the other hand, if you visit during the summer months or when water levels are low, Tinkers Falls can often be little more than a trickle. On the plus side, while the waterfall might leave a bit to be desired, you can likely cross the stream without getting your feet wet.
Once across the waterway, the trail continues up the right bank towards Tinkers Falls.
There is a set of stone steps that were built a few years ago that assist in climbing the bank as you approach the falls. While the steps aren’t too difficult to ascend, They can be very tricky if you come back down them, especially when wet, so make sure to be careful on the steps.
Once at the top of the steps, you’ll be able to follow the narrow, but relatively safe path as it heads behind Tinkers Falls.
When the waterfall is flowing well, this is a truly magical spot as it’s rare that it’s so easy to get behind such an impressive waterfall.
Once you’re done enjoying the area behind Tinkers Falls, you have two choices for how you can return to your car.
The first is to retrace your steps and head back the way you came. If you opt to do this, again be extra careful descending back down to creek level, especially if the rocky stairs are wet.
The second option is to continue following the trail above the waterfall. This creates an approximately one-mile loop hike with portions of the North Country Trail and the Skyline Trail.
Keep in mind that getting above Tinkers Falls requires hiking on a rather precarious trail. In fact, it’s so narrow and hidden that I had no idea it was there until I saw someone coming down it. If you opt to do this, be extremely careful as a slip on this narrow trail wouldn’t be good. As a parent, I’d also be leering of taking my young kids on this portion of the trail.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if you do the one-mile loop, the 2/3 of a mile out-and-back hike, or the half-mile hike to the first viewpoint of the falls, Tinkers Falls is a waterfall that everyone should visit.
How to Get to Tinkers Falls
The trail to Tinkers Falls starts along Route 91 in the Labrador Hollow Unique Area of Cortland County, New York.
Parking for the falls can be found on the opposite side of Route 91 at the following coordinates: 42.780174, -76.036150. There is also a small handicapped parking lot on the opposite side of the road.
From the parking area, carefully cross the road and pick up the trailhead next to a small wooden signboard.
Follow the trail for approximately a quarter-mile to the first view of Tinkers Falls. Continue beyond that at your own risk and discretion.