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Eternal Flame Falls

Eternal Flame Falls (photo taken in autumn, flame lower right)

By: Pat Coate

I had heard good things about the Eternal Flame Falls hike at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park, NY. So while in the area with a little extra time I decided to check it out. Here is a description of the eternal flame phenomenon from

“As you approach the falls, the smell of rotten-egg-like natural gas fills the air within the ravine. This is the result of seepage from layers of organically-rich Hanover Shale. … The gasses produced during the decomposition of the organics within the rock deposits are under pressure and push out through cracks and loose layers within the rock. One large fissure is located right within Eternal Flame Falls, in a small grotto that protects the gas seepage from the falling water and any wind, enabling it to sustain a flame when lit.”

Zooming in on the Eternal Flame

The falls are over 30 feet tall. At this time of year the flow of water is minimal unless there have been several days of rain – I look forward to visiting the trail again next spring.

Close up of the grotto and eternal flame

View looking up from Shale Creek and the Eternal Flame Falls

There were some unusual and, I thought, pretty spectacular views looking up the gorge from the creek.

View looking up from Shale Creek and the Eternal Flame Falls

View looking up from Shale Creek and the Eternal Flame Falls

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3 responses

  1. Mike

    This is a very interesting place. Please follow the trail. some folks have been hurt trying to create shortcuts. One small correction, the Correct name of the park is Chestnut Ridge Park. It is part of the Erie County Parks system. Thanks for the nice write-up

    21 November 2013 at 8:39 am

    • Pat

      Thanks for the correction and warning about shortcuts. I’ll add another warning that if you take your dog be sure to keep it on a leash as there are some sharp dropoffs as you hike down and around the gorge. I really liked this hike and found it very interesting too. I look forward to returning and seeing the falls when there is more water flowing.

      21 November 2013 at 9:45 am

  2. Very cool! I love the rock formations.

    21 November 2013 at 10:23 am

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