One of area’s most beautiful spots is off the beaten path

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 November 2013 at 12:00 am

Oak Orchard Creek plunges 40 feet near canal in Medina

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – I’ve heard it and seen it from a distance. But I had never been close to the Medina Waterfalls – until this afternoon.

We ran a Vintage Orleans photo earlier today from 1905 of the Aqueduct in Medina. The Aqueduct gives the Oak Orchard Creek a path to run under the Erie Canal in Medina. Not long after, the creek plunges in a waterfalls.

I wanted to see it, but it wasn’t easy. There’s no signage (that I could see) directing pedestrians to see this attraction. I was stumped on how to get there. But long-time Medina resident Denise Adams was out walking her dog along the towpath, on the north side near the Horan Road bridge. She knew the drop-off point where people went to go see the falls.

We headed west, past the creek. It’s a long drop off from the concrete path to get down to the trails leading to the waterfalls. Some people made a mound of dirt at one spot so the drop wouldn’t be so far. It’s still probably 8 to 10 feet below.

Adams told me she sees high schoolers head down to the waterfalls. I decided to make the descent, although I wondered how I’d get back up.

Trails take you to the creek but it’s slippery. You could easily fall and slide right the creek. I kept my wits and footing and worked my way towards the waterfalls, passing sandstone walls and sandstone chunks along the path.

One slip and you could end up in the creek.

I’ve had the waterfalls on a to-do list for a few months. I waited until the fall when the leaves wouldn’t block the view and would add some color.

This waterfall is powerful. It’s not a babbling brook, trickling down a hill. It’s far more ferocious than the waterfalls in Holley, Clarendon or Waterport.

The waterfalls roars with the Horan Road bridge in the background.

I grabbed several photos and headed back. I reached the spot where I descended, but I didn’t think I could jump, grab the concrete ledge and hoist myself up. Some of the teens made a wobbly stack of stone to try to get up, but that seemed too unsteady.

I kept walking west, looking for a way to get back up. I had to dodge cesspools, rotted trees, branches and other obstacles, all while trying to avoid a slip off the cliff.

Be prepared for an adventure if you want to see the Medina Waterfalls. I’d recommend some stairs be installed to make it safer for people to climb off and then back up the towpath.

I finally found a spot maybe 100 yards down. Adams was relieved to see me. She said she went home and her husband made her come back in case I ended up in the creek.

It really wasn’t too risky, but I’m surprised something this nice has to be so difficult to go see. Medina could have an attraction with the waterfalls if it was clearly marked along the canal, and if there were sturdy steps so people could go down and then come back up on the towpath.

I’m not sure who owns this property. The owner may not want people to go exploring. But people clearly are. So why not make it a little easier?

There should be some railings near the paths by the creek. One slip and someone could end up in the water.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church looms in the distance in this photo of the Oak Orchard Creek in Medina. The waterfalls (not pictured) are close, a little to the east.

This part of the Erie Canal was a particularly difficult challenge for the engineers and workers nearly 200 years ago. They built the aqueduct over the creek, and the canal followed the contours of the Oak Orchard Gorge. That’s why there is the wide area in Medina at the canal basin.

I don’t know the whole story, but after today I’m quite fascinated by this spot. I just wish I didn’t have to be a daredevil to experience it.