By Alex Hutton, Brandon Sprague and Linsey Madison
At first glance, the Village of Holley looks like any canalside town. Its industrial past is evident as you drive down the village’s main street. Stretching only 1.2 square miles, you wouldn’t expect Holley to harbor a beautiful cascading waterfall. Buried within the wooded hillside of Canal Park you’ll find one of the Brockport area’s hidden gems, Holley Canal Falls.
Also known as Holley Falls, the picturesque waterfall was man-made, intended to release excess water from the canal. The water tumbles down the 35-foot drop of red rock into a pond which joins with a passing creek and makes its way through the park.
Only one turn off of Main Street, the falls come up rather unexpectedly.
“One day I happened to drive out to Holley along the canal, I was driving down Main Street through the village and I saw a sign that said falls, I turned down the side road and all of the sudden there was a big waterfall to my right. It was so beautiful and unexpected,” said Lynn Burlingham, a Brockport resident of nearly 30 years.
“I love going and parking my car so I can sit and look at the falls straight on and people watch. You’ll see people hiking up to the top of the falls, or see somebody fishing. It was such a surprise to see something so beautiful so close to home. It really is a hidden treasure,” said Burlingham.
Canal Park has winding pathways through the woods, a scenic pond and large shady trees. There are benches, picnic tables and a covered pavilion perfect for viewing the falls. Trails are scattered throughout the park leading up to the canal path, making this park a beautiful hiking and picnicking spot.
Many residents hold Holley Falls close to their hearts. When the snow melts, the falls are used as the perfect backdrop for weddings, and photoshoots. Families have picnics under the pavilion, locals walk their dogs, and some residents have even been baptized there.
Every year, Girl Scout Troop leaders Laura Perri and Noel Feller hold their crossover ceremony at the park. They use the bridge over the creek to “crossover” the girls into their new rank of Girl Scouts. Other residents have visited the park since they were kids, and are passing the experience down to their children.
“I grew up skipping school and walking the canal bank down to the falls, now I take a lot of nature walks there with my daughter and her father. We fish there too, because it’s a guaranteed catch spot!” said Stacey Thomas, a Brockport resident.
Local Chelsea Hutchings is a frequent visitor of the falls and cherishes a very special moment in her life that happened in front of Holley Falls
“I had my engagement pictures taken there,” Hutchings said. “I go at least once a week during spring, summer and fall.”
Holley hosts an annual June Fest throughout the Village, with an array of food stands and trucks stationed in front of the falls. This event attracts hundreds of Holley residents as well as people from the surrounding communities. At June Fest, the village holds a 5k run, a parade and a village wide yard sale. Nearly 4,000 people attend the festivities at the falls.
During June Fest, the park may be packed, but at any other time of the year there’s a good chance you’ll have the falls to yourself.
At first glance, Holley may look ordinary but once you dig a little deeper you will stumble upon a true hidden gem.