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$1.27M improvements complete at Carpenter Falls in Cayuga County

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says construction on a $1.27-million project to improve public access at Carpenter Falls Unique Area in the town of Niles, Cayuga County is complete.

“Carpenter Falls is one of the recreational, tourism, and environmental gems here in Central New York and DEC is committed to continuing to help improve and enhance the experience for all visitors while also continuing to protect the natural resources of this critical watershed,” Commissioner Seggos said. DEC designed the new features and upgrades unveiled today to help increase safety, reduce long-term environmental impacts to the area, and protect water quality in Skaneateles Lake, a popular recreation destination and drinking water source, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to build upon this progress throughout the region.”

Carpenter Falls Unique Area contains dramatic steep terrain and waterfalls. The 37-acre property was conveyed to DEC in 2008 by the Finger Lakes Land Trust. The new access improvement project supported by funding from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund includes enhancements to ensure safe and convenient access to the site’s popular waterfalls. The new elevated boardwalk and viewing platform are constructed to be accessible to people with disabilities, allowing all visitors the opportunity to traverse through the forest to view this spectacular waterfall. Carpenter Falls Unique Area now offers:

  • New on-site paved parking lot for 20 single vehicles, including accessible spaces, designed with green infrastructure to manage stormwater;
  • Bicycle rack to accommodate cyclists;
  • Accessible toilet facilities with a screened enclosure near the parking area;
  • New elevated boardwalk, leading 630 feet from the parking lot to an observation platform, accessible to people with mobility impairments;
  • Accessible observation platform where visitors can enjoy a view of the 90-foot-tall Upper Carpenter Falls; and
  • A new trail with stone steps to safely guide hikers down a steep ravine to view Upper Carpenter Falls from a unique, stream-level vantage.

The elevated boardwalk and stone steps will protect sensitive soil and vegetation from adverse impacts and erosion sometimes caused by pedestrian traffic on the site’s steep slopes, which will also help safeguard water quality in Bear Swamp Creek and Skaneateles Lake. DEC encouraged public input during the design process, including a comment period with public information sessions held in August 2019, and the comments received influenced the final project design. DEC encourages a continuous dialog with visitors to understand public interests and needs for the enjoyment of our natural resources. 

New Yorkers are encouraged to “Love Our New York Lands” all year by practicing Leave No TraceTM principles and by recreating safely, sustainably, and hiking in suitable conditions based on weather and experience level. For more information, visit here.

Under the State’s Adventure NY initiative, DEC is making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active outdoor recreation, connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors, protect natural resources, and boost local economies.

This project and other initiatives to bolster access and sustainable use are funded through the State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Among the many environmental victories in the enacted 2022-23 State Budget, Governor Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders increased the EPF to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program’s history. The EPF supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improves agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protects water sources, advances conservation efforts, and provides recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.