The romantic getaway
Syracuse in New York state is a nature lover’s paradise, writes Kiran Soni Gupta

A view of the frozen Chittenango Falls
A view of the frozen Chittenango Falls. — Photo by Madhukar Gupta

Armed with the weekend frenzy, our friends from Hendricks Chapel at the Syracuse University mobilised a group of 14 friends, all bundled in a giant car, and decided to explore the wintry beauty of Syracuse on a sunny weekend.

From the Syracuse taking NYS route 5 east to Chittenango and then on to route 13 and turning right, following it for about four miles north of Cazenovia, we reached the entrance to the park. From the parking area, we went down playing in the snow and the steps took us to the base of the falls. My heart missed a beat as one saw, crossing the bridge spanning the creek, the most sparkling view of the frozen Chittenango Falls.

Having seen the best known falls like the Niagara and Taughannock falls, this spectacular scene was as if life had frozen at its best moment. A picturesque 167-foot waterfall. A frozen waterfall, decked in peaceful white, beckons one and all. The falls are beyond the description of earthly beings. Water cascades about halfway down the falls, with beautiful jumps and sprays, before widening and continuing its course down the rock face. The cascades leading from the falls to the bridge over the creek provide the perfect foreground for the scene.

Glacial sculpting over 40 million-year-old bedrock has largely contributed to this feature. Syracuse lies near the edge of a shallow marine seaway in a desert belt 20 degrees south of the equator. This seaway became isolated and salinities mounted up over time, producing layers of salt that account for the present day. Syracuse is where it is. An interesting variety of both plants and wildlife is found along the trails. The view of the falls from the top, walking along the winding trail into the gorge view the falls from the footbridge and returning to the top along the small trail on the opposite side of the gorge is a wholesome feast to the eyes.

When we were there, the sun was bright and this made the falls acquire an extreme contrast. The falls seemed to be posing for great shots that helped us to capture the essence and beauty of time. Other activities that are popular with the visitors include camping, fishing, hiking and picnicking.

In the proximity is the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum, which is located within the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park. The dry dock at Chittenango Landing was built in 1855. There the 96-foot long cargo boats, which speak volumes of the skills of craftsmen. These were then used to carry grain, lumber, coal, and the produce of the west to eastern markets. The museum besides giving us a good peep into the social history of the canal era also enlightens the visitors about the construction of these boats and the workings of the restored dry docks.

The delightful lakeside village of Cazenovia was our next halt. Cazenovia, which lies southeast of Manlius, has long been the place for Syracuse city dwellers to have a summer cottage. Cazenovia village takes its name after an agent of Holland Land Company Theophilus Cazenove and is located in Madison County, New York. It has a meagre population of 2,614 as recorded in the 2000 census.

In the summer there is the Franklin Motor Car Festival and a variety of horse events, including carriage driving. Cazenovia has its own hunt. A Cazenovia Sailing Club sport has its own sandy beach for the children, while parents elect to sail, motor boat or sun bathe. The village shops are charming and attract a lot of summer visitors. Cazenovia’s private Ski Club is on the border of this town.

Soon we reached Skaneateles. Located at the north end of Skaneateles Lake, one of the Finger Lakes, this is another attractive lakeside village. Homes on the lake cost a small fortune, especially the older, stately homes with huge acreage and majestic columns dressing their facades.

There are homes available that are less expensive, and cottages can be found at the south end of the lake for more affordable prices.

New York’s natural lakes number in thousands. Two of the Great Lakes —Lake Erie and Lake Ontario — lie along the state’s western border. The largest lake lying wholly within the state is Oneida Lake, covering 210 sq km (80 sq m) and located northeast of Syracuse.

Lake Champlain, a much larger and deeper lake, forms part of the boundary between New York and Vermont. Just south of Lake Champlain is Lake George. Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, and many others on the northern rim of the Adirondacks are popular resorts.

Along the northern edge of the Appalachian Plateaus are the well-known Finger Lakes, the largest of which are Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake. Also of glacial origin in the western portion of the state is Chautauqua Lake, well known as the birthplace of the Chautauqua Institution, where summer lectures and concerts are held.

Among the largest reservoirs in New York are Great Sacandaga Lake and Allegheny, Ashokan, Pepacton, and Cannonsville reservoirs. Tired, exhausted yet twisting and curving along these beautiful areas and an array of natural splendour were surely etched in our heads and hearts.