By John Haywood, Dig the Falls
Everyone loves waterfalls or a good road trip! Waterfalls are those geological wonders that catch our attention regardless of how small or grand they may be. Road trips, of course, are just plain fun!
What’s better than getting out and taking a drive through the backroads to experience the sights and sounds with no particular destination? Now, combine the two and add in a few other points of interest, and you’re in for a good time.
Madison County, one of the jewels you’ll find when you visit Central New York, was named for the fourth President of the United States, James Madison, and was formed in 1806. Sprawling fields and sweeping vistas are found across the county, making it perfect for not only catching stunning sunsets, but for growing crops as well. Breweries in Central NY take advantage of excellent conditions to craft their beers, delivering a variety of brews since the hop boom of the 1800s.
On this road trip, members of Dig The Falls, The Upstate Experience, and Waterfalls of Upstate New York, visited two breweries, along with a couple of waterfalls, and some other great stops throughout Madison County. With so many great things to do, there’s no doubt you’ll have a good time! So join us, as we hit the road on our Madison County Road Trip.
The first stop of the day is the magnificent Chittenango Falls. Located inside Chittenango Falls State Park, this 167-foot tiered waterfall is found at the head of a large gorge on the Chittenango Creek. A loop trail brings you down to the gorge to a footbridge that spans the creek. Here you will be able to view the falls head-on.
Be mindful of the signs on each end alerting you not to walk up to the falls due to the presence of endangered species. The trail climbs up the other side and to a roadway bridge that brings you back to the parking area.
The grounds here host two pavilions, picnic tables and free-standing grills for cookouts as well as a playground for the youngsters. The park is open year-round with some restrictions that weren’t specified on the website. Empire Pass is accepted, although there was no fee the day of our visit.
From there the next stop was Empire Brewing Co., where we sampled a number of brews and few items from the menu. The Tumbleweed Burger was out of this world, as was the blue cornbread. The southwest bacon mac and cheese did not disappoint, nor did the sweet fire andouille sausage.
Following our meal, we were given a tour of the brewery and learned a lot about what goes into the brewing process. One interesting fact is that the brewery receives its beef from a local farm, which in turn receives the spent grain that is leftover from the brewing process to feed the livestock there.
Next on the list was the newly opened Delphi Falls County Park. This 60-acre park is home to two waterfalls, Upper and Lower Delphi Falls, with only the lower being accessible at this time.
The 65-foot lower falls are the main attraction, found at the end of a crushed stone walking path that passed by beautiful landscaping. On this day there were a number of visitors ranging from younger families to older couples and all were enjoying themselves.
The park is open all year, from sunrise to sunset. Swimming is not permitted, and dogs are allowed as long as they are leashed.
We headed over to Hamilton to visit Good Nature Farm Brewery, where we were met with live entertainment outside the main building. With perfect weather, the crowd grew steadily.
The outdoor area had a number of sturdy picnic tables for ample seating as the band played. We sampled a few different brews and had the fortune of meeting owner, Carrie Blackmore, who graciously offered us a tour. Her vibrant personality, and care for her employees, showed exactly why Good Nature is successful.
We also stopped by Oxbow Falls at Oxbow Falls County Park in Canastota. In addition to the waterfalls here, the 125-acre park has ball fields, disc golf, and hiking trails. The park is open year-round, sunrise to sunset. Pets must be leashed.
And what better way to end a day of road-tripping than a stop at Zems Ice Cream in Canastota! Enjoy a round of mini-golf, or one of the games in the game room, after cooling down with your favorite ice cream. Be sure to check out the red caboose and say hi to Moonbeam!
As you can see, Madison County has a lot to offer. Whether you come for the scenery, the shops, the waterfalls or the breweries, Madison County will have exactly what you’re looking for to have a great time and make long-lasting memories.