A Hidden Gem in Holley, New York

By: Ben Blakely

HOLLEY, N.Y. – During a global pandemic with many quarantined at home, there has not been much to do. Netflix and Hulu have become more popular than ever, with people binging their favorite show or finding new ones to enjoy. But during these uncertain times, New York offers residents the ability to explore the state’s multiple outdoor attractions. One of them is Holley Canal Falls.

Tucked behind the small village of Holley, the park’s main attraction is a 35-foot waterfall. The falls were constructed in 1918, after state officials installed a waste weir to handle the overflowing of the Erie Canal and allow the canal to drain in the winter.

A close up look at the cascading waterfall in Holley Canal Falls Park
(Photo by Ben Blakely)

Once construction was complete however, the falls remained hidden from the public until the village began clearing ground for a potential park in 1985. And in the late 1990s, Holley received a grant under a New York State program to assist canal-side communities in developing the park into what it is today.

Spencerport resident Alexandria Hutton frequents the falls with her family and nine-month-old Dachshund Toby. She says Toby enjoys the trails of the falls when the leaves are falling.

“We usually like to walk the paths because that is what Toby likes to do the most,” Hutton said. “Especially when the leaves are falling, he thinks it’s a game that the leaves are falling for him, and he will try and catch every leaf.”

During her family visits to Holley Canal Falls, Hutton brings a blanket, a book, some snacks and her nine-month-old wiener dog Toby (Photo courtesy of Alex Hutton)

But the falls are not the only attraction for visitors. The park also has a 14 mile hiking trail that encompasses part of the Eric Canal Trailway. The terrain is best used from March to November, offering picturesque views of the waterfall and the change from full bloom to bare trees.

A map view of the Holley Canal Falls Park Hiking Trail
(Photo Courtesy of AllTrails)

The parks offers the chance for visitors to make memories with their friends and family. Hutton recalls her favorite memory from Holley Falls, which happened during her freshman year of college at SUNY Brockport.

“One of my froommates had just gone through a big breakup with her boyfriend [in Lake Placid], and she wanted to get rid of his stuff. So as any good roommates would do, we took her to symbolically throw all his belongings over Holley Falls,” Hutton said.

But the ceremonial tossing of the belongings did not pan out as to what Hutton and her roommates hoped.

“After we climbed down, we realized the falls don’t drain, and all of his soaking wet clothes were in the pond,” Hutton said. “We ended up convincing some guys who lived down the hall from us to go into the water and fish the clothes out.”

Going to the falls now might not offer the photo opportunities you may be hoping for. To prepare for the winter months, the canal has been drained, therefore stopping the flow of the falls. But the park is still open for the public to hike the trails and take in the scenic Upstate New York snowfall.

Paired with a global pandemic and colder temperatures, many will be shut in their homes once again. But once the warmer temperatures return in the spring, Holley Canal Falls will be filled with families making memories, one photo or hike at a time.



Categories: Arts and Life

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