By Sue Freeman
Naples (at the south end of Canandaigua Lake) is known for its grape festival. Grape stomping, grape pies, sips of luscious wines – it’s all wondrous fun in the fall. But, Naples has another claim to fame – one that is centered squarely in summer, and one that I find more fun than eating grape pie. And, I’m a grape pie lover!
To me, Naples is synonymous with creekwalking. Off the Bristol Valley hills run four streams that converge in the Naples Valley to fill Canandaigua Lake. They provide a summer playground for those of us with a sense of adventure and a willingness to get wet. You will get wet – it’s the objective of creekwalking. The footing can be precarious. Mosses and lichens make rocks slippery and you have to watch carefully where you place each footstep. The reward is finding new delights with every bend of the creek.
The most well know is Grimes Glen which houses Grimes Creek as it flows directly into the village of Naples. (Park at the end of Vine Street.) Splash into the one-foot-deep stony creek bed and head upstream in the cool water. In less than half a mile a waterfall will crash 60 feet down a side tributary to join Grimes Creek. In a little over half a mile you’ll find another 60-foot waterfall, but this one sits a bit off kilter in Grimes Creek and blocks your upstream passage. No matter. Play in the spray then head back downstream having enjoyed a hot summer day.
On the opposite side of Route 21 in Naples you’ll find Tannery Creek. Practice at Grimes Glen, and then go tackle Tannery Creek. (Park at the end of Tannery Creek Road.) In this stream you’ll climb a succession of small waterfalls until you reach a 40-foot-tall one and have to turn around.
Further honing your creekwalking skills, try your hand (or should that be foot?) at Clark Gully next. (Parking areas are off West Avenue and South Hill Road.) Then, the piece-de-resistance: Parish Glen (a.k.a. Conklin Gully). (Park along Parish Hill Road.) This place is for true adventurers. The climbs can be steep, with few handholds. You never know what you’ll find around the next bend, but usually it’s another waterfall. Each is different, and each is spectacular in its own right.
Climbing up waterfalls as you creekwalk, such as is necessary at Conklin Gully, can be scary. Turning around and climbing back down is even scarier. Never climb up beyond your level of comfort. The good news with Conklin Gully is that if you make it to the top, you can follow a trail back down.
Bring out your inner adventurer and head to Naples this summer for some unforgettable fun. All the information you need to find and enjoy these creekwalks can be found in the guidebook “200 Waterfalls in Central & Western New York – A Finders’ Guide.”
Grimes Glen photo by Sue Freeman