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Taughannock Falls State Park

As part of our New England road trip, we headed north through the Finger Lakes region, passing through the city of Ithaca, which included a brief drive around Cornell University – which has some lovely old buildings. The college was not in session so it was very quiet apart from the endless amount of construction work going on.

From Ithaca, we headed along the western shore of Cayuga Lake. Cayuga Lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes.

Our destination was Taughannock Falls State Park which is located about 10-miles north of Ithaca. The eastern side of the Park is on the banks of Cayuga Lake and has a concession stand, restrooms and access to the Lake. This is where most of the parking is also located. 

Normally, we’d have loved to go for a paddle or even a swim in the lake, but there were hazardous algae blooms so swimming for people and dogs was prohibited. Something to be aware of if you visit in the summer and expect to go for a swim!

The calm waters of Seneca Lake in Taughannock Falls State Park
No swimming today due to dangerous algae blooms in the waters of Cayuga Lake

The reason we had ventured here was to see Taughannock Falls. These falls drop 215 feet in a single drop which is 33-feet taller than Niagara Falls.  It is the tallest free-falling waterfall in the northeastern United States. Kaaterskill Falls in Catskills Mountains is 15-feet taller but it is made up of two drops.

The Gorge Trailhead which leads to Taughannock Falls in across the road from the lake area.

The Gorge Trail notice board - hard to miss!

The trail itself is a very easy walk – but gets very busy. It follows Taughannock Creek upstream – it was quite wide so didn’t feel like anything I would call a stream!

There are some small falls along the way.

A small waterfall on Taughannock Creek on the Gorge Trail

As you pass through the gorge the cliffs start to rise and before you know it the rim is 400-feet above your head. The creek itself is pretty shallow, you can paddle out in a lot of places and the water just about covers your ankles.

The water in Taughannock Creek is largely shallow
One of the more rapid water sections of Taughannock Creek

After an easy 3/4 of a mile walk from the trailhead, you reach the main falls. At this point, there is a bridge across the creek. This is a good place to take a photo or two. Across the creek, the trail continues another 100-feet so you can get quite close to the falls and truly appreciate its raw power. You’ll also likely get wet from the spray from the falls.

When done you’ll have to turn around and retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

If you are not done with hiking there are also trails along the north and south rim which offer overlooks of the falls.

In summary …

  • Taughannock Falls are the tallest falls east of the Rocky Mountains – and very easy to get to.
  • It gets busy during holidays, weekends through the summer and fall. Plan to get here early or later in the day to avoid the crowds.
  • The Gorge Trail is short (3/4 of a mile) and flat. You can easily access this with a pushchair/stroller.

Planning your visit to Taughannock Falls State Park

Address:1740 Taughannock Blvd. Trumansburg, NY
Website:https://parks.ny.gov/parks/taughannockfalls
Telephone:T: (607) 937-5386
Hours:

Park is open year-round from dawn to dusk.

Admission Fees

$9 per vehicle

Free Parking is located directly behind the Museum. Additional parking is available in neighboring municipal lots; City of Corning parking fees apply.

You can also visit us via a free shuttle bus, which provides service between The Corning Museum of Glass, The Rockwell Museum and Market Street.

All museum entrances are wheelchair and stroller accessible. Public galleries are accessible and can be reached by elevator. However, not all doors are on power assist. There are wheelchair-accessible restrooms on the mezzanine level.

Manual wheelchairs are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis; just ask any Museum staff person for assistance. The Rockwell also welcomes your personal walkers, wheelchairs and scooters.

Best time to visit Finger Lakes

The best time to visit the Finger Lakes region is from May to September, when there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the area’s outdoor pursuits. Expect higher accommodation rates in the peak months of June to August and longer lines at attractions and wineries.

Other places to visit near Taughannock State Park

1. CORNING MUSEUM OF GLASS

Corning is well known for its manufacture of glass. It is not all boring stuff as a trip to the Museum of Glass will show you. There is a marvellous collection of art exhibitions ranging from avant-garde to very traditional artwork.
 
There are also displays and exhibitions of glass-making which are really interesting.
 
The museum is pretty large so you can easily spend several hours looking around. If you are interested in glassware you could spend the whole day here!

2. WATKINS GLEN STATE PARK

Known for its natural beauty, the Watkins Glen State Park features a series of waterfalls and gorges that are sure to amaze anyone. An almost two-mile hike will take you past 19 waterfalls and up over 800 stone steps.

There are a number of small trails leading off of the Gorge Trail, giving way to a number of other outdoor activities close by the main trail. There are tent and trailer campsites, swimming pools, picnic facilities as well as guided tours of the local topography.

Leashed dogs are allowed on the outer rim trails but not on the Gorge Trail.

The entrance to the park is right on Main Street in Watkins Glen. You are never far from the conveniences of a town while being able to get away to the wonders that are the gorges and waterfalls of Watkins Glen State Park.

3. ROCKWELL MUSEUM

The core of this interesting and diverse collection was gifted by Bob and Hertha Rockwell, local business owners who amassed an incredible collection of American art and artefacts. 

The Rockwells had keen eyes for art and exquisite taste.  They owned a department store in the area and used their store as a venue to display their remarkable collection of American art and artefacts, Carder Steuben glass, classic firearms, and antique toys.

Their collection quickly outgrew their department store.  In 1974, the Rockwells and a group of executives from Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated) began working together to turn the collection into a museum for the benefit of the Corning, NY community. The Rockwells would donate their collection, and the company and the community would support the museum moving forward.

Where to stay near Taughannock Falls

1. THE INN AT TAUGHANNOCK FALLS

Upscale accommodation: 
 
This boutique inn was originally built in the Victorian era by the Jones Family as their private residence. The property encompassed what is now Taughannock Falls State Park, which was later sold to New York State. When the Jones sold the property it was turned into an Inn which has expanded under the last three owners.
 
The Inn is centred around historic the original house. There are four other buildings, most units have views of Cayuga lake, some with private balconies.
 
The Inn has a restaurant and extensive grounds. There is also a trail that leads to Gorge Trail.

2. WILLIAM HENRY MILLER INN

Mid-Range accommodation:

The William Henry Miller Inn is located right in the heart of downtown Ithaca. The Inn is within walking distance of as many as fifty restaurants. Cornell University, Ithaca College and intriguing shops are right around the corner. The breathtaking Cascadilla Gorge is a block and a half away and a few more blocks down you will find Ithaca Falls.

 

3. THE INN AT GOTHIC EVES

Set within the picturesque countryside of Trumansburg, The Inn at Gothic Eves offers comfortable accommodation and a full range of facilities, including free Wi-Fi and a lift. It is ideally positioned for those wanting to visit local attractions. There are 8 charming rooms at the bed & breakfast, each providing all the necessities to ensure a comfortable stay. Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport is less than a 25-minute drive from The Inn at Gothic Eves. It is also a short drive from Ithaca and Watkins Glen.

 

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