Parks & Recreation
Trenton Falls Scenic Trails
The trails will be open on April 27th & 28th 2013
The 150th anniversary re-enactment of this Civil War meeting will be on August 18, 2013 at Trenton Falls.
Trails are open to the public on specific, scheduled dates only.
No pets are allowed on the trails.
Brookfield Renewable Power and the Town of Trenton developed the Trenton Falls Scenic Trail to offer the public an opportunity to experience local history while enjoying splendors of nature that are rare in beauty and power.
Visitors will find scenic overlooks, wildlife observation, informational panels and views of the hydroelectric operation and facilities, picnic areas, and points of historic interest.
Two types of trails are available: the primary trail (stone dust) takes visitors from the entrance/parking area to the Trenton Falls Hydro Dam overlook. This trail is approximately 1 mile long and will take 1 to 1.5 hours to enjoy. The secondary trails (wood mulch) allow visitors to experience nature and scenic vistas along the gorge.
No reservations are required.
Directions to Trenton Falls Scenic Trail
From Utica and South
State Route 12 North into Mapledale commercial district. Go past
traffic light. Take next right onto State Route 28 south. Follow to
first left, on curve, which is Trenton Falls road. Follow signs to four
way stop. Go straight through and continue to the end of the road where
you will park.
From Rome and West
State Route 365 through Holland Patent, about 1 mile past Holland
Patent, take a right onto Mapledale Road. Follow Mapledale road to
State Route 12. Turn left onto State Route 12 North. Go 1/10 of a mile
and turn right onto State Route 28 South. Continue to first left turn,
on curve, which is Trenton Falls Road. Follow road to four way stop.
Continue straight through to end of road where you will park.
State Route 12 South past the State Route 365 intersection. Continue
through the blinking light at bottom of hill. About 3/10 mile just past
Stewarts, take a left onto State Route 28 South. Follow State Route 28
to first left turn, at curve, which is Trenton Falls Road. Follow to
the four way stop. Continue straight through to the end of road where
you will park.
From Herkimer and East
State Route 28 through Poland and continue approximately 6 miles to
3-way intersection of Old Poland Road, State Route 28 and Trenton Falls
Road. Take right turn onto Trenton Falls Road continue to four way
stop. Continue straight through to end of road where you will park.
History and Hydropower
The Trenton Falls Scenic Trail offers an overview of the area’s rich history.
1805, John Sherman first viewed Trenton Falls during a visit from
Connecticut. In 1806, Sherman moved to Trenton to be the pastor of the
Reformed Christian Church. Sherman resigned as pastor in 1810 and
established a teaching academy next to the low ground trail to Trenton
In 1808, with the help of money donated by Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, a path was blasted to Trenton Falls.
1822, John Sherman and partner Jarvis Phelps purchased 60 acres from
the Holland Land Company (including Sherman Falls). Sherman bought out
his partner in 1823, and built the Rural Resort, which opened to
visitors that summer.
In 1825, Sherman expanded the Rural Resort
to accommodate overnight guests. Trenton Falls became a “must see”
destination between the East Coast and Niagara Falls.
visitor Michael Moore severely injured his leg during a fall in the
gorge; Sherman’s daughter Maria nursed Moore back to health. In 1831,
Moore married Maria Sherman and assumed management of the resort.
1851, the Trenton Falls Hotel – known by the popular name Moore’s Hotel
– was constructed, leading to a dramatic rise in tourism.
1863, United States Secretary of State William H. Seward hosted a
meeting of diplomats at the Trenton Falls Hotel to emphasize the
agricultural and industrial strength of the North, and to discourage
support for the South during the Civil War.
In 1893, the Mohawk
and Malone Railroad expanded, providing easier access to the Adirondack
Mountains, the Thousand Islands and Lake Ontario. The railroad’s
expansion and an economic depression, depressed tourism.
1897, the Utica Electric Light & Power Company acquired Moore’s
Hotel and all its property on both sides of the gorge. Construction of
the dam and hydroelectric powerhouse began in 1899. Electricity was
delivered to the City of Utica from Trenton Falls in 1901.
the deaths of Michael and Maria Moore in 1888 and 1899, respectively,
the Moore’s Hotel was renovated and reopened as the Trenton Hotel under
new management in 1902.
Improvements to the Trenton Falls
Hydroelectric facility were implemented from 1917 through 1922 with the
addition of three hydroelectric turbines.
After a further
decline in business, and the collapse of the Trenton Hotel’s roof , the
entire structure was finally demolished in 1945.
Light & Power Company was acquired by Niagara Hudson, which became
Niagara Mohawk in 1950. The hydropower plant was purchased by Niagara
Mohawk Power Company in 1950. Rehabilitation of the hydro intake,
pipeline and surge tank was completed in 1984. In 1999, Orion Power
purchased Niagara Mohawk hydro facilities at Trenton Falls. In 2002,
Reliant Energy merged with Orion Power, and in 2004, Brascan Power
purchased Reliant Energy hydro facilities including Trenton Falls.
Brascan Power is now known as Brookfield Power.
Geologists estimate that the rocks in the Trenton gorge are
approximately 450 million years old. Trenton limestone is abundant with
fossils, including one spectacular trilobite fossil Isotelus gigas. In
fact, local people would find these fossils and sell them to tourists.
One enterprising individual was reported to have sold fake specimens.
addition to trilobites, fossilized remnants found at Trenton Falls
include concularia (an ancient “armored” jellyfish), echinoderms
(spiny-skinned creatures including starfish and crinoids, or sea
stars), cephalopods (shelled mollusks with squid-like tentacles),
gastropods (snails), and bryozoans (tiny moss animals).
deposits are extremely common at Trenton Falls, and limestone has
played a role in the Upstate New York economy since the latter half of
the 19th century. Various quarries of Trenton Group limestone served
commercial needs, including use in the construction of several local
buildings such as the Utica State Hospital, the Wethersfield School and
the Barneveld Library. Ten locks of the Black River canal were built
with Trenton limestone. In addition, limestone is used to manufacture
medicines and toothpaste.