Devil’s Hole State Park is unassuming as far as state parks go. It has a picnic area, flowers and historical signs, but what lies below the park and what happened at the park, makes it a must-visit for hiker’s, bird watchers, and fishermen’s.
A short ride from Lewiston, Devil’s Hole State Park is off the Robert Moses Parkway near Niagara University. The park offers a small picnic area, but what most people are drawn to immediately, including myself, was the rock wall overlooking the lower whirlpool rapids. The wall frames the 3.2 mile Robert Moses Recreation Trail that starts at Devil’s Hole and ends at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center. From the wall, you get your first glimpse of the rapids rushing towards Niagara Falls. After a few pictures, I returned to the picnic area to find out a little bit more about the park.
Devil’s Hole is the remains of the waterfall created where an outlet drained from glacial Lake Tonawanda into the Niagara River. It is also home to rich history. On September 14, 1763, more than 300 Seneca and other Native Americans attacked a British supply convoy en route to Fort Niagara, killing 100 men. Thedeadly attack ended British plans for offensive operations around the region. Remnants of the attack remain as a limestone cave is carved into the side of the wall of the Niagara Gorge and was called “The Cave of the Evil Spirit” by early Seneca Indians. Intrigued by the story, I decided to take the hike into Devil’s Hole.
The Devil’s Hole Trail takes you 1.25 miles down a 300-foot walkway. A word of caution, there is only one way down and one way up. I’m told by the volunteers at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center it takes 340 steps round trip. The trail is suited for hikers with a moderate skill level as the stairs are old, uneven and sometimes slippery. Watching every step I took, I slowly started down the stairs.
At the beginning, the rock wall offers a hand railing, but after a few more steep steps no more railing. Stepping carefully, I found myself amazed by the gorge walls on my right. There were layers and layers of rock with small trees and shrubs growing out of the cracks. On the left were larger trees, and unlike on the top of the rim, everything was green. The stairs continued down with a gentle curve to them, and I could feel the temperature cool with every footstep. I could also just hear the mighty Niagara River below.
With more trees forming a mini forest, I spied the cave approximately a third of the way down. The cave to me was a little too dark to venture into, but it definitely would have been a strategic site for the Senecas’ attack. Back on the trail, the sound of rushing water grew louder and louder the closer I got.
Coming out of the wooded area I am careful not to miss a step as I am finally treated to a stunning, up-close view of the rapids. The white water rushing by gave me a chill and put a smile on my face. I can now see why so many have made this hike.