Eternal Flame Falls, Orchard Park

4.7
#62 of 149 in Nature in New York State
The Eternal Flame Falls is a small waterfall located in the Shale Creek Preserve, a section of Chestnut Ridge Park in Western New York. A small grotto at the waterfall's base emits natural gas, which can be lit to produce a small flame. This flame is visible nearly year round, although it can be extinguished and must occasionally be re-lit.The Eternal Flame Falls were featured in the book Secret Places by Bruce Kershner.Recent developmentsOnce considered an "obscure" attraction in the region, recent media attention and improvements to the access trail have led to an increased number of visitors in recent years. The increased popularity of the falls has led to some negative impacts, such as an increase in litter, vandalism, pollution, and impacts on the surrounding terrain by tourists, but also fueled a successful public protest against a plan to clear a nearby forested area to install a disc golf course in 2012.In 2014, it was announced that the Eternal Flame Falls were filmed to be featured in an as-yet unnamed Travel Channel series hosted by Tory Belleci.Composition and source of gasGeologists from Indiana University Bloomington and Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology studied Eternal Flame Falls in 2013 in an effort to better understand how natural gas emitted from naturally occurring hydrocarbon seeps contribute to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They found that the 'macro seep' at Eternal Flame Falls had higher concentrations of ethane and propane (about 35%) than other known natural gas seeps, which typically contain a greater proportion of methane. They estimated that the seep at the falls emits approximately 1kg of methane per day.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
101 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • August 8, 2017
    We were looking for an activity we could do with our dog and that involved some physical exertion (versus the Zoo, the Falls, etc which mind you were great). This hike is stated to be "moderate" - and...  more »
  • August 7, 2017
    This is a nice 1/2 mile (each way) trail hike through a beautiful forest and along a shale riverbed. There are numerous exposed tree roots along the trail which can pose a tripping hazard for those wh...  more »
  • July 19, 2017
    Not a long hike, but a steep approach to climb back out. Great hike to do while spending time in Chestnut Ridge Park  more »
Google
  • June 4, 2017
    Moderate to difficult trail depending on your hiking experience. Wear good waterproof hiking boots or prepare to have wet feet. Little kids can make the trip. I took my daughter and she is seven and had little difficulty, my fourteen year old son loved it and kept going ahead on the trail. This is something I recommend to anyone that has not been to try.
  • June 26, 2017
    Great family walk. Easy for most. I had a 3,5 and 7 year old with me and it was manageable. Bring a lighter with you just in case the flame is out.
  • July 11, 2017
    A local landmark. Slightly more than one mile round trip hike over varied terrain, mostly wooded, moderate difficulty for most people. The falls presents a great photo op.
  • April 15, 2017
    It's amazing! A flame under the Falls. It was a challenging hike if you were trying to stay dry in early April. If you hike in the summer or spring and don't mind walking in the water it would be less physical. There is no clear path the whole way. It is super muddy after a rain.
  • May 21, 2017
    Amazing fall with eternal flame inside. Seems like someone has placed a lighten candle inside. The hike is challenging, you will get wet. But it is totally worth it.

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