Click the images for enlarged view
Taughannock State Park, Tompkins County, on Route
89, 7 miles north of Ithaca. Taughannock Creek flows
into Cayuga Lake.
State Park. There is a vehicle use fee in the summer to use the
lower gorge parking lot and the lakeside facilities. However, you
can park for free at the Falls Overlook and at the Jacksonville
Rd. trailhead parking lot.
The Gorge Trail leads to an observation platform
at the base of the main waterfall. This is an easy
3/4 mile walk each way on a smooth and level footpath.
The Rim Trail encircles the gorge and is an easy
hiking trail except for steep stone stairs at the
eastern end. Start up the South Rim Trail from the
gorge entrance parking lot. It is about 500 vertical
feet and 1-1/8 mile to the west end of the park
where you can cross the upper gorge on an abandoned
railroad bridge or on Jacksonville Rd. Return on
the North Rim Trail which is 1-1/2 miles back to
Route 89. Cross the lower gorge on the very narrow
sidewalk on the Route 89 bridge (probably the most
dangerous part of the hike) to the parking lot.
For a complete "Taughannock experience"
hike the rim trail circuit and then up the Gorge
Trail to the base of the falls. Allow 2-3 hours
You can see Taughannock Falls
from your car at the Falls Overlook. For all
other views, you will have to walk. The hike to
the base of the falls on the Gorge Trail is well
worth the effort. From the South Rim Trail, you
get only a glimpse of the falls from a distance,
but it's a wonderful walk through a mature hemlock
forest. On the North Rim Trail, you can get what
we think is the best overall view from a small lookout
about 1/8 mile west of the Falls Overlook. You also
have wonderful views of the gorge and Cayuga Lake
as you descend on the North Rim Trail.
There are two other fairly respectable waterfalls in the gorge,
one at the entrance to the lower gorge and one beneath the abandoned
railroad bridge in the upper gorge. There are also numerous small
waterfalls and cascades along the way.
We have noticed the results of major rock
falls at Taughannock Falls which show that the
forces that created this wonderful place are still
at work. You would be wise to keep to the trails
at all times to minimize the risk of "participating"
in this process.
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