From the city of Watertown, travel out West Main
Street and pass under I-81. The hydro plant will
be on your left. Most people looking for this area
will take I-81 exit 46, outer Coffeen Street which
becomes NYS Route 12F. Proceed west to the hamlet
of Paddy Hill where you take a right and cross the Black
River into Brownville. Take another right and you
are heading back into Watertown. After the
Brownville/Glen Park Elementary School there will be a
dome structure housing the power plant. You will
then come to a fenced-in area where the Glen Park Hydro
facility is located.
||N 43° 59' 48"
||W 75° 57' 08"
||West of Watertown
|Length of hike:
||Public by agreement
Children growing up in the Watertown
area in the 50s and 60s were warned to stay away from the Black
River. Now, it is a whitewater rafting and kayaking paradise.
The Glen Park Falls is a pleasant little falls in the middle of
a very popular whitewater stretch just west of I-81 on Watertown's
It should be noted that this is private property, owned by the
Glen Park Hydroelectric Project. As a hydro facility, parts
of it are open to the public but it is closed from dusk to dawn
and in winter months. Also, you have limited views from the
publicly accessible areas and the flow over the falls is minimal
when the hydro plant is producing. That is why it is best
to visit this site on a weekend between 11 AM and 4 PM. Due
to agreements between the local whitewater businesses and the hydro
plant, production is cut back during this time and the river returns
to normal flow. During these hours, this is a very active
Walk around the left side of the fenced area and you will find
a gate that will be open and unlocked when they are open.
Proceed across the dam and on the other side, you will find an area
to your left that is roped off and indicated as private. The
falls are on the far side of the river, just below the retaining
dam, in the area beyond these ropes.
Shortly after we arrived at just about 11 AM on a Sunday in July
2011, several dozen people arrived carrying a number of whitewater
rafts and kayaks. There was also a hydro employee there.
We explained what we were doing to him and he guided us past the
roped area to the river bank where he showed us the best place to
get pictures. We even took some shots with kayakers going
over the falls! To stay on the legal side of the trespassing
issue, arrive when it opens at 11 AM. The employee was very
cordial and accommodating.
While doing some research for a new book we are writing, we
discovered a Jefferson County history account at
indicated that before 1893 when the village of Glen Park was
incorporated, the community was known as Jim Wood's Falls.
This was in reference to a man who settled in the area in 1804.
That moniker has not been used since the incorporation.
The Black River empties into Lake Ontario just a few miles downstream
from this location.
Last update: February 23, 2017