Posts Tagged ‘waterfalls’

Bushkill Falls

November 1, 2013

Known as the “Niagara of Pennsylvania,” Bushkill Falls boasts a number of  waterfalls deep in the woods. The trails are easy to do, since they are mainly wooden walkways, stairs, and bridges connecting one waterfall to another. This time of year, it looks like the Main Falls near the entrance takes the prize for most impressive in the waterworks department. Count on spending 3+ hours here if you’re as insane a shutterbug as I am.  We did the red trail and then the yellow trail – combined, these two trails cover the entire area.  A word of warning – we came here in the morning and the walkways were manageable.  By noon, the crowds picked up and traffic pile-ups became the norm.

Stairs, stairs, and more stairs!
Bushkill Falls

I wouldn’t say any of these walkways were scary. They felt sturdy with no gaps in the floorboards. This place is good for kids who are able to climb up and down stairs.
Bushkill Falls

Bushkill Falls

This was one of the more anemic falls.
Bushkill Falls

A glimpse of the Delaware Valley from a lookout point.
Bushkill Falls

Bushkill Falls

Standing on top of the Main Falls. The water here is supposed to be the cleanest in Pennsylvania. However, its yellow/brown tinge would give anyone pause to drink it straight out. The color comes from the tannin and tannic acids that come out of tree roots and tree debris in the water.
Bushkill Falls

The Main Falls from below.
Bushkill Falls

Bushkill Falls is a 2-hour drive from NYC. Take Interstate 80 to Exit 309, Rt. 209 north. Turn left onto Bushkill Falls Road at the blinking light in Bushkill, PA. The falls is open April through November, 7 days a week, from 9am to dusk. Admission is $12.50 for adults, $7 for kids ages 4 to 10, and free for kids less than 4. Dogs are welcome.

Niagara Falls

November 11, 2012

I have to admit that Niagara Falls has never been on the top of my list of places to visit, despite having lived in NY my whole life. However, our recent trip to the Finger Lakes brought us in close proximity and we had to take the opportunity once it presented itself.  If you read my previous post, you’ll know that we based ourselves in Canandaigua to explore the Finger Lakes.  The drive from Canandaigua to Niagara took one and a half hours.   If you get there early enough in the morning, before 11am, you will find parking easily on the NY side (at least in mid-October).   Here are some views of the falls from the NY side.  There are in fact, three waterfalls, which I didn’t know about until I did some research for this trip.  Here is a view of Horseshoe Falls from Goat Island.  You can somewhat tell from this picture that it is indeed shaped like a horseshoe.

Niagara Falls

Here is a view of the other two falls, the large American Falls and the tiny one next to it called Bridal Veil Falls (yes, that tiny sliver of a waterfall in the foreground that is separated from the other waterfall by a ruined platform).

Niagara Falls

I didn’t know why my Canadian friend insisted I had to cross into Canada to see the falls until I got here.  Considering the limited view of the tops of the falls on the NY side, you owe it to yourself to bring your passport and cross over to Canada!  There are two ways to cross into Canada from the immediate area – cross Rainbow Bridge by foot or cross it by car.  Crossing by foot is far easier because you will not get stuck in traffic.  We went through the customs office on the NY side in 5 minutes (keep in mind we were there before noon).   The walk across the bridge takes just another 5 minutes, but I would imagine that everyone spends at least 15 minutes just gawking and photographing the falls from this vantage point.
Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

The view from the Canada side is not that different from the view from the bridge.  I will spare you the multiple pictures I took from the Canada side that look almost identical to the one above, just a little closer and flatter in appearance.   Some things of note on the Canadian side – lots of casinos and a sea of authentic Korean and Japanese restaurants (many of them did not have English translations on their storefronts).  Very interesting.  Also, keep in mind that you will need to drop two quarters into a turnstile to cross the bridge back over to the NY side.   Those Canadians!

I don’t know how many people just look at the falls and then leave. That would be a mistake.  Further up north on the NY side is a beautiful area called Whirlpool State Park where you can see whirlpools from a safe distance.  The water from the falls meanders its way here where its goes through some turbulence as it swizzles around a bend before making a 90 degree turn eastward.  The whirlpools appear and disappear without any noticeable pattern and greatly vary in size.  Whirlpools are quite disturbing if you have never seen one in real life.   Now I can truly appreciate how ships can get sucked up into a whirlpool, never to be seen again.  There is an aerial tram that takes you on a scary ride above the whirlpools from the Canadian side to the American side.  It was not operating the day we were there because of strong winds.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

For folks coming from NYC, I would recommend a trip to Niagara Falls if you happen to be near that area anyway, but not as a trip for its own sake.  Also, I would agree with most people that you must visit the Canadian side to get a full view of the falls, but I would not recommend spending the night there unless you like casinos and amusement parks.

The Finger Lakes

November 4, 2012

My little blog won’t be able to do this northwestern part of the state justice.  I barely scratched the surface during my 3 days here, but what I can give you is a little flavor to whet your appetite.  On the map, you can easily see how the Finger Lakes got its name – deep grooves left by glaciers resulted in long slender bodies of water side by side resembling fingers. There is an abundance of gorges, waterfalls, forest, and of course, lakes in the area.  Perfect for nature lovers!

We came here to see the leaves change and at mid-October, we were in time to see the colors peak.  It’s absolutely gorgeous at this time and with the summer crowd gone, the perfect time to explore at leisure.  Here are a few highlights from our stay.

Taughannock Falls is at the bottom end of Cayuga Lake, close to Ithaca.  It can be seen from two vantage points, from the top at a parked lookout point and from the bottom of the falls itself.  Here is the view from the lookout.  What I saw didn’t match the pictures, possibly because there hadn’t been enough rain in some time.  Its height is still impressive though.

Taughannock Falls

The hike to the falls itself is an easy 20 minute walk through a partially dry river bed (or you can follow the official trail that is completely dry above the river bed).  We saw hawks nesting on the gorge wall.  Pretty amazing.

Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls

For our stay here, we decided to base ourselves at the upper tip of Canandaigua Lake.  This was so we could drive to Niagara Falls without spending too much time on the road (separate post on that coming up).  Canandaigua also happens to have a nice little main street and a historical attraction called the Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion.  This estate houses a 40-room mansion and several different styles of gardens.  You can tour the grounds and mansion by yourself, but I recommend the free guided tour of the mansion – you get more out of it than just reading the signs.

Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion

Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion

Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion

The real highlight of the Finger Lakes, at least for me, was the gorge at Watkins Glen.  Something about the 800 steps carved into the rocks, forming a meandering and moderately-difficult trail with gushing water and dripping caves, reminded me of Lord of the Rings.  You forgive this man-made intrusion into nature because otherwise you would not be able to experience the sights and sounds of this place.

Watkins Glen gorge

Watkins Glen gorge

Watkins Glen gorge

The drive to the Finger Lakes takes about 5 hours from NYC.  To keep your sanity, I recommend you break up the drive somewhere along the way, like in Binghamton.  The Finger Lakes is a huge area and you have many options for where to rest your head.  We stayed at a Victorian bed and breakfast in Canandaigua called the Inn on the Main, which I recommend wholeheartedly because we felt very pampered.  The Finger Lakes is also known for its impressive number of wineries.  For more things to do, especially when the lakes are open for water sports, click here.

Duke Farms

June 29, 2012

This was a farm that tobacco built, although you would be hard-pressed to believe that this vast 2,000-acre estate is simply just a farm. Created by J.B. Duke in the late 1800’s, it started out as a purchase of a single farm by the Raritan River. The estate quickly expanded as 40 other farms in the surrounding area were added to the property. In the beginning, Duke Farms was meant to be an actual farm with cattle and horses, but J.B. tried his hand at it and changed his mind, opening up the land as a public park instead.

The landscaping is diverse, ranging from waterfalls to hills to a large number of lakes, with sculptures dotting the landscape almost randomly. This work is attributed to the design firm of Frederick Law Olmstead – the same firm that designed Central Park.  Given the size of this place, you will probably want to explore by bike to get the most out of your visit here. On bike, you should probably give yourself 2-3 hours to look around.  On foot, you ideally would want to spend half a day here.

The Coach Barn was the first of several barns to be built. It’s clear from the expensive finishes that they were meant to be more than just barns. In fact, they look more like mansions to us ordinary folks!

Doris Duke Farm

While the other barns seem to be in good shape, this one is being reclaimed by nature. The old hay barn is now a home for these lovely ladies.

Doris Duke Farm

I saw two conservatories, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more to be found elsewhere on the property. This is the major one, called Orchid Range. As you would guess by the name, it housed orchids. J.B.’s daughter, Doris, had a passion for them. The conservatory still has orchids on display today, along with other tropical plants.
Doris Duke Farm

Doris Duke Farm

This foundation was meant for yet another mansion that was planned.  It remains a mystery why they stopped building it.
Doris Duke Farm

Had they completed the mansion, this would have been the view from the backyard.

Doris Duke Farm

While water plays a large role in the landscape design, the lakes and waterfalls that I saw were not that attractive – they were covered with green algae!  Fortunately, there were plenty of streams where the water ran clear and the trees gave plenty of shade – perfect for a picnic!

Doris Duke Farm

Duke Farms is located at 1112 Duke Parkway West in Hillsborough, NJ. It is best to drive there and is about 1.5 hours from the city. However, you can take the N.J. Transit Raritan Valley Line to the Somerville Station and taxi the remaining 1.5 miles to the entrance. The grounds are open 8:30 to 6:00  every day except for Weds, July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Admission is free, and there is plenty of parking space. No pets are allowed. There are a number of environmental workshops and tours being offered right now – costs vary, and you should register in advance.