Early on a summer Sunday morning the grounds were sleepy as could be. Stony Brook State Park [10820 New York 36, Dansville, NY 14437] is pretty far from any serious civilization and a bit overshadowed by nearby Letchworth State Park. Good thing, keep the crowds over there! Somehow I stumbled over the name years ago, heard there were waterfalls, and always kept it in the back of my mind. It stuck because I’m often in Long Island and there is a SUNY college which shares the name. So on my most recent trip to CNY I added it in to the itinerary. Sure, it was a bit out of the way, but so very worth it for what was in store. We got out of our car and really didn’t know where to go. I always think there is going to be a blinking sign leading the way. There was a playground in front of us, and it looked like water in the distance behind it. So we walked onto the mulch and found a trailhead.
Game plan: Gorge trail and loop back around with the West Rim trail equaling 2.25 miles roundtrip. At 9AM we had the place almost entirely to ourselves (there were only two other early birds we ran into), which was a magical thing. Walking the winding trails beside the Gorge I oohed and ahhed around each bend. All of the little chutes and changing color were enchanting.
We made it to the first falls, sheer and elegant. A walk in the pool was so refreshing. After admiring the sight we continued on the trail walking up the stairs. I loved watching the changing perspective of the falls while gaining elevation!
Further down the line the second falls turn up, ribbony and beautiful in its own way and a bit wider than the first.
Keeping up pace we reached the third and final falls peeking out from behind the trees, the largest of the three, and I was a bit crestfallen to find no trail down to reach it. I suppose it’s best for the environment. The Gorge trail spit us out in a campground, we crossed the parking lot to find the bridge which would take us up to the West Rim trail. There was a bit of an elevation gain as you would imagine to get to the top of the rim. Lo and behold, a much better view of that third waterfall popped up. (Left picture: Gorge trail view/Right picture: West Rim trail view)
I’ll take it! The remainder of the trail was peaceful, through the woods. You can spy the waterfalls you saw up close and you get a few good mountain views.
I didn’t spot any birds but loved listening to my favorite eerie bird song by the elusive wood thrush. When we completed the loop it was finally time when the pool opened. There is a really neat fresh water ‘pool’ which is gorgeously green, if you’re brave enough to jump in. It was a freezing 62 degrees, so crazy me nearly had the whole place to myself. Absolutely revived after a hot hike, were ready to head back to the car and go forth with the day’s adventures. We didn’t see too much in the way of wildlife, a lot of dragonflies and this one really awesome bright orange bug that was sitting on the car mirror upon our return.I have no idea even what kind of bug it is, and I couldn’t find anything about it online. Any help in identifying it? It was our final moment of excitement at the park, a fantastic fun time!