Visiting the Overlooked Deckertown Falls

Upper and Middle Deckertown Falls, Finger Lakes, New York
Upper and Middle Deckertown Falls

It’s a tiny bit of forest tucked between a neighborhood and farm fields.  But within that sheltered glen, Catlin Mill Creek tumbles over three(ish) ledges to create a scene better known as Deckertown Falls.  The falls are as beautiful as others in the area (it’s very near Montour Falls, not that distant from Watkins Glen, and just up the hill from Havana Glen), but it’s often overlooked.  I’d guess that’s partially because it’s so small… but if you get a chance to visit Deckertown Falls, you won’t be disappointed.

Quick Stats

Round Trip Length: 0.25 miles Trail Type: Out & back Elevation Change: 200ft. Pets: Leashed Fees: None

Middle Deckertown Falls, Montour, New York
Middle Deckertown Falls

The parking area is at the end of a neighborhood street.  In fact, unless you know it’s there, you’d never guess.  There is a trailhead sign and a small parking area (~3 cars), so unless it’s crowded, you should be able to park somewhere other than the street (I believe street parking is illegal – it’s one way to make sure the area doesn’t get too crowded!)  On a Friday afternoon in late September, we saw only one other group (a family) who was leaving about the time we arrived.

Upper Deckertown Falls, Finger Lakes, New York
Upper Deckertown Falls

It just happened that I was on a bicycle (I was on a tangent off of the Catharine Trail, but that’s a post unto itself), so I walked my bike up the dirt trail.  It’s well-worn enough to be easy to follow, but not much more than that.

An old foundation near the falls.  I'd guess it belonged to some kind of mill.  Deckertown Falls, Montour, New York.
An old foundation near the falls. I’d guess it belonged to some kind of mill.

On the right are the remains of a structure – probably a mill of some sort.  The creek is on the left; before long, one of the paths leads down toward the creek and one of the lower waterfalls.  I had to leave my bike near the mill; the trails just aren’t bike-friendly.

Close up of the Lower Deckertown Falls, Finger Lakes, New York
Close up of the lower cascade

I’ve heard that there are three waterfalls; honestly, it depends on how you want to count them.  I’d call them four falls; this is the lowest one: a simple chute down a shale ledge.  If you’re tall, you can see more falls up above.

Lower Deckertown Falls and a glimpse at the upper cascade, Montour, New York
Lower Deckertown Falls and a glimpse at the upper cascade

By scrambling along a slippery shale ledge, I could see more waterfalls.  But you’re better off going back up the bank to the trail.  A sketchy path leads upstream up a hill high above the stream.  A pipe (it probably once brought water to the mill) runs beside the trail.

The pipe along the Deckertown Falls Trail, Finger Lakes, New York
The pipe along the trail

Scramble up and over the hill, using caution near the cliff edges.  (Don’t go off-trail, as the park is bordered closely by private property to the south.)  This will bring you down above the middle falls (second falls) in view of the third and fourth falls (upper falls) which is also the tallest.  You can cross over to the far bank (use care; the rocks are slippery) to get a better view at about 0.1 mile from the parking area.

The Deckertown Falls Trail up the hill - the rope isn't much help.  Finger Lakes, New York.
The trail up the hill – the rope isn’t much help.

You can also scramble closer to the falls (be careful; shale is notoriously unstable), but I opted to go back down to the middle falls.  It’s a short drop, but picturesque in its own way.

Middle Deckertown Falls, Finger Lakes, New York
Middle Deckertown Falls

Retrace your steps to your vehicle.  I’ve heard swimming isn’t prohibited, but be careful and always follow signs.  Chances are that you won’t spend more than 20 minutes max here even if you take tons of pictures (the path just isn’t that long!) but it’s well worth a stop if you’re in the area.

Upper Deckertown Falls, Montour, New York
Upper Deckertown Falls

Round Trip Trail Length: 0.25 miles (depending on how much you scramble)

Elevation Gain: About 200ft.

Facilities: None

Fees: None

Trail Notes: I visited during a drought, so take that into consideration.  When the trails are wet, it’s a muddy, slippery mess – so either go when it’s dry or come prepared to get muddy!

Closeup of part of Upper Deckertown Falls, Finger Lakes, New York
Closeup of part of Upper Deckertown Falls

Trail ★

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★

Overall Rating: ★

GPS Coordinates for Deckertown Falls

Parking: 42.3434167°, -076.8308833° (N42° 20.605′ W76° 49.853′ / 42°20’36.3000″, -076°49’51.1800″) (521ft.) (25.09)

I did not record any other waypoints because my GPS usually doesn’t handle gorges and canyons very well.

The gpx file for Deckertown Falls can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

Download GPX File size: 1.3 KB Downloaded 16 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

Upper Deckertown Falls, Finger Lakes, New York
The tallest cascade

Getting to Deckertown Falls

From Watkins Glen, head south on NY-14 (aka N Franklin Street).  After 2.8 miles (just after the road curves sharply east then sharply south again), turn left onto Clawson Blvd.  Cross over the diversion channel and, after 0.5 miles, turn right onto S Lhommedieu Street.  Drive for 0.4 miles and turn left onto E Catlin Street.  The parking area is a dead end 0.1 miles later.

From the south, head north on NY-14.  Just before the town of Montour Falls, turn right onto Havana Glen Road.  Only 0.2 miles later, turn left onto S Lhommedieu Street for 0.4 miles.  Turn right onto E Catlin Street; the parking area is a dead end 0.1 miles later.

Visual trail map and elevation profile for Deckertown Falls, Montour, New York
Visual trail map and elevation profile – I’m not sure the elevation profile is quite right! Also, it’s only one-way, not out and back.

Zoom map out to browse nearby hikes & places of interest

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