The Salmon River falls is a huge waterfall plunging over 100 feet over a cliff of shale as it makes its way to Ontario Lake. The falls is managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and was created due to the area being a popular tourist destination. Interest in this area is also due to some of the unique plant and animal life that can be found here. The Birds-Eye Primrose, a.k.a Primula Farinosa is a rare plant that can be found in the Salmon River falls conservation area. The Yellow Mountain Saxifrage, also a rarer species can also be found in the Salmon River Falls conservation area. Perhaps the reason for this area being titled a “unique area” is due to the wide variety of activities that the area can be used for such as hiking, fishing, hunting, ice climbing the falls in winter and for the casual sight-seer a overlook.
The falls themselves are gorgeous and can be viewed from the trail at various points while enroute to the tops of the falls. There are two overlooks that have been placed at strategic points along the trail to view the falls and take pictures. The actual trail to the top of the falls is very short and only about 1000 ft from the parking area and the road. The trail is also a very easy walk/hike over a gravel path and would be great for amateur and avid hikers alike.
At the end of the trail visitors can climb down a set of steps onto the top of the actual falls… this area is not protected by guard-rails or any bars so visitors with small children are advised to proceed with caution. As you stand above the falls you will notice the rock is littered with the engraved names of previous visitors to the falls. Some reportedly as early as the late 1800s. If this type of thing peaks your interest you are sure to have a fun time reading some of the engravings.
A little history…
The Salmon river falls have been popular for hundreds of years… dating back to the days when the Iroquois roamed the area. It was a popular spot for the Iroquois to catch Salmon due to the falls being a barrier to the Salmon that made their way up river from Lake Ontario. Because of this the Iroquois could collect enough Salmon to feed them the rest of the season.
But it wasn’t till the 1800′s that the area really became a tourist spot. But eventually as roads began to be built throughout the surrounding area the Salmon River falls became a very popular picnic spot and sight-seeing area. Since then it has remained a popular spot of anyone who enjoys the magic of this waterfall and its American history.
In 1912 a hydro-electric dam was finished just above the falls diverting nearly all of the water around the falls dwindling the falls into a mere trickle and at times completely drying it up. During this time records tell us that the area was abused by vandals and due to drinking many people lost their lives plunging off the top of the falls. Due to this the area was eventually close completely to the public