The tectonic activity of the Rhinestreet Shale, a geological formation that preserves fossils from over 420 million years ago in New York, created a very unique natural phenomenon that you’ve really got to see to believe.
Open year-round, I’d suggest heading out during the day time, as after dark the sometimes slippery, moderately steep, root covered trail might be a little treacherous. There’s plenty of parking at the trailhead, and despite the trails more recent press coverage, we only saw a few people hiking at the same time. It was very muddy when I was visiting in the middle of June, so make sure to wear some shoes with a good grip and prepare to get a little wet and muddy. The almost 1-mile round trip trail weaves around the stream, crossing over it in several places, as well as up and around fallen trees, so this is best for people with full mobility. I did see some people with their littles, but anyone younger than 5 seemed to be carried at least part of the way.
The short 0.7 mile hike leads you to a mesmerizing flickering flame caused by a natural gas pocket underneath a small, yet splendid, waterfall. Despite the name, hikers walk by the fall and relight the gas pocket whenever it sputters and dies off; it was disappointing for me to learn it wasn’t truly “eternal”, but any disappointment was quickly curbed when I actually got to the falls and saw the phenomenon myself – truly an amazing sight to see. Apart from the beautiful and scenic trail, there aren’t many activities here – but an hour of hiking through peaceful woods with a phenomenal and literal water and fire ending makes the trip worthwhile.