Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009 Letchworth Fall Foliage (10/14/09) NY

October 14, 2009
Road Trip! Almost like in our younger days, I was able to hop in the car with friends and their mom for a drive to Letchworth State Park (NY) to see the fall foliage. We started at the easternmost end of the park at the Mt. Morris Entrance. Senior citizens received a discounted entry fee on weekdays (thanks, "Mom"!).
First stop was the Mt. Morris Dam Overlook.
The 230' high Mt. Morris dam was built in 1948-1952 to prevent flooding of the Genesee River in the Rochester area. Today it is hard to believe floods are possible, since the water level seemed higher below the dam (to the left in photo) than above. At this point, we couldn't even see the river above the dam!
Canada Geese honked down below. Suddenly there was the smell of skunk; time to move on after a quick pic of the Paul Bunyan-size chair.
Hogsback Overlook: Here we had a better look at the gorge cut by the Genesee River, earning it the title of the "Grand Canyon of the East."
And, yep, there's the Genesee River itself.
Maple trees turned yellow:
Gardeau Overlook: Here we were a distance from the edge of the gorge which has become thick with trees, and thus, would be great for fall foliage sighting. However, it had been a rainy and unseasonably warm autumn, and we saw everything from trees losing leaves to trees that still had green leaves, to trees that were bare at the top, colored in the middle, and green at the bottom.
Gray Dogwood Tree (Cornus racemosa).
Tea Table Overlook:
Moss-covered shelter,
and stone tables and bench supports:
You can see where the gorge winds along upstream:
And downstream:
Wolf Creek Falls:
Wolf Creek Falls can barely be seen from the overlook; one must raft the river to see it as a whole. There are over 30 waterfalls in Letchworth, including the 350' Inspiration Falls - the highest plunging waterfall in New York State.
Shale outcroppings:
Barely holding on:
Big Bend Overlook:
Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus):
THE Big Bend:
Wildlife! A Doe:
With her yearling:
We stopped for lunch at a food concession near the Lower Falls. Afterwards we saw more white-tailed deer at the Civilian Conservation Corps statue.
Letchworth Lower Falls (70'):
Red Maple?
William Pryor Letchworth was a successful Buffalo businessman and found his country retreat overlooking the Genesee River. He continually purchased land (starting with 100 acres and ending with 1,000) along the river gorge in order to preserve the natural views, and on his death in 1910, deeded his estate to New York State. The park has since grown to 14,000 acres.
Upon hearing that the local district needed a new school, Letchworth had one built, and also furnished it with books and an organ.
Glen Iris, the country retreat purchased by Letchworth in 1859 and now a seasonal inn with a popular restaurant.
Middle Falls (107'):
Upper Falls (71'):
Square bedrock:
It was an overcast day, but at least not raining. As we left through the Castile Entrance, the sun finally started peeking through. Took the scenic route home.