Prospect Park

After 28 years, Prospect Park reopens Fallkill Trail

Path leads to a scenic waterfall

October 27, 2023 Mary Frost
Hiking in Prospect Park
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PROSPECT PARK — It’s been fenced off for 28 years, but now visitors can stroll along a newly-restored woodland hiking trail in Prospect Park, leading to the scenic Fallkill Waterfall.

On Wednesday, the Prospect Park Alliance, its landscape management team and volunteers cut the ribbon to reopen the Fallkill Trail, and visitors took a guided tour, taking in scenery not officially available since 1995. 

It took almost a year to get the area in shape. Nimble park visitors had been hopping the fence to the waterfall for decades, leaving graffiti, bottles and trash in their wake. Prospect Park Alliance staff and volunteers put in the grunt work, cleaning up litter, hauling logs, grading paths, removing invasive plants and planting native species to strengthen the ecosystem.

“We have monitored how people are engaging with the park and we adapt our uses to meet them where they are,” Morgan Monaco, president of Prospect Park Alliance, said at the ribbon cutting. “This new trail will invite visitors to explore a previously-fenced area of the park and enjoy the beautifully restored landscape. The park’s natural areas are a true respite for New Yorkers and the long-term health of our natural areas requires us to be champions and strong stewards of the park.”

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Monaco asks that visitors and their pets stay on the designated path. “I urge all who come to experience the park’s woodlands to stay on the designated trails, carry out all trash that you bring in, and always keep dogs on-leash to protect these delicate habitats.”

The entrance to the new trail is just a stone’s throw from the Prospect Park Dog Beach (closest to Prospect Park West or Prospect Park Southwest).  

(From left) Forestry, Wildlife and Aquatic Technician Marty Woess; Morgan Monaco, president of Prospect Park Alliance; staff and volunteers cut the ribbon on the newly-restored Fallkill Trail. Photo: Caroline Ourso, courtesy of Prospect Park Alliance

Waterfall system ‘a fantastic feat of engineering’

If you take a hike along the new trail, don’t expect to see a working waterfall in the near future. It turns out that the Fallkill Waterfall is not a natural waterfall, and due to the extreme amount of rainfall the area has been receiving, the park has temporarily “turned off” the water for a while. (Before the 1930s, the water was pumped from a well, but now it comes from the municipal water system.)

According to Water Watch NYC, Prospect Park’s entire water system — lakes, waterfalls, beaches, islands — is entirely man-made, a “fantastic feat of engineering” designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the late 1800s. 

All of the park’s waterways are connected to each other, starting with the Fallkill, then moving to the Upper Pool and Lower Pool, Ambergill Falls, Binnen Water and Falls, and Lullwater (a remnant of a river which is now underground), according to the highly informative Hidden Waters Blog. The stream culminates in the 60-acre Prospect Park Lake, the largest body of water in Brooklyn, and entirely man-made.

The entrance to the new Fallkill Trail is not far from the Prospect Park Dog Beach. Photo: Google Maps

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