Name of Waterfall

Cohoes Falls


Take Highway 787 to Cohoes, and where the highway officially ends at the intersection with Route 32 (Saratoga Ave), continue straight through the light along New Courland Street. Continue for one mile to Falls View Park, with the small parking lot on the left. A network of trails which access multiple viewpoints of the falls is accessed from a large footbridge spanning the canal immediately adjacent to the parking lot.With a crest width of about 950 linear feet and a vertical drop of about 60 feet, Cohoes Falls is the second largest waterfall in the state of New York - after Niagara - and is one of the largest waterfalls in the eastern United States based on both width and volume. The falls are produced by the Mohawk River, the largest tributary to the Hudson River, where the Mohawk intersects the Sand Hill Shale formation which has been exposed along the margins of the Hudson River valley. While the cliffs adjacent to the falls are stripped down at jagged angles, the immense volume of the Mohawk has scoured the bedrock to a very noticeable rounded shape, which sees the river roll off the ledge and slide over the falls at a very steep angle rather than falling in a truly vertical fashion such as Niagara does.
Unfortunately, as it is situated just a stone's throw away from downtown Albany, Cohoes Falls has long been tamed by the reach of man. The first dam was constructed upstream of the falls in 1831 to provide power to the booming textile industry in the area, but by the 1920s the factories had mostly shuttered and the falls were relegated to simply turned over to the private hydro industry.
Until 2008 the falls were purely at the mercy of the capacity of the hydro system and would only flow when the power house reached its intake capacity (based off of USGS streamflow data this would be, on average, for about 2 months out of the year). Following a re-licensing deal with Brookfield Renewable Power for the Cohoes Falls project, a mandatory minimum aesthetic flow of 500 cubic feet per second will now be allowed over the falls during daylight hours between May 15 and October 15 on the weekends and federal holidays, 245 cubic feet per second during summer weekdays, and 120 cubic feet per second during the winter. This is still only about 10% of the river's average natural volume at the falls however, so it represents a far cry from its natural splendor as the first European visitors to the area would have seen it. Between November and May, however, the Mohawk River does regularly exceed the capacity of the power plant, and in doing so the falls see as much as 5700 cubic feet of water per second.
In addition to requiring the minimum aesthetic flow, Brookfield Power has constructed a very nice park along the rim of the gorge which now provides easy access to multiple unobstructed views of the falls, as well as a staircase leading to rocky beaches along the river below the falls for a much closer vista than what was previously possible over the last 200 years.It is unlikely we will ever know for sure who first discovered the falls, and when. Undoubtedly the falls were known to the Mohawk people long before Europeans arrived. According to Russell Dunn's "Mohawk Region Waterfall Guide", one of the earliest documented accounts of the falls was by one Domine Megapolensis, the first minister to the early colony of Rensselaer (which was established before the creation of the Province of New York, prior to the formal establishment of the original British Colonies in North America).

Other Names




Absolute Magnitude


IWC Rating (International Waterfall Classification)


Total Height (ft)


Tallest Drop


Number of Drops


Average Width


Maximum Width


Average High Volume (Cubic ft per second)

5,700 cfs (2 months)

Average Low Volume (Cubic ft per second)

412 cfs (10 months)


75 degrees

Run (ft)


Watershed or Feeder Stream

Hudson River Mohawk River