Next Waterfall Next Waterfall Sixmile Creek

What's New

Click the images for enlarged view


A tributary of Cayuga Lake Inlet in the City of Ithaca, Tompkins County.


Ithaca City Park and city water supply. The best place to enter this creek valley is at the Elizabeth Mulholland Wildflower Preserve parking lot which is off of Giles St. If you enter Giles St. from Route 79, turn into the parking lot at the bottom of the hill just before the bridge that crosses Sixmile Creek


This is a long hike with significant up and down on woodland trails with no trail markers. Some of the trails traverse high vertical cliffs and are somewhat "exciting." Experienced hikers will have no trouble, although we suspect that there will be some muddy spots in the spring or after a rain. The round trip hike is almost five miles with a total elevation gain of about 800 feet. Allow 2 to 4 hours depending on your speed.


This hike is along the north side of Sixmile Creek and passes two natural waterfalls, three manmade waterfalls, and two reservoir lakes. Sixmile Creek is the water supply for the City of Ithaca and you can see evidence of older, abandoned water pipes throughout the hike.

The lower part of the trail follows the edge of the creek at water level until you reach the 4' dam. From there you have a nice view of the 20' dam which is about 500' upstream. This is a dead end for the trail, so backtrack about 200 feet looking for a trail going steeply up to the right. This leads to the edge of the cliffs above the creek and to fantastic views of the two dams and the lower reservoir.

As you approach the 20' dam, the trail drops steeply to lake level. You may see swimmers here in hot weather, but swimming is strictly forbidden and the gorge is heavily patrolled.

Follow a primitive trail along the edge of the lake and then into the woods beyond the lake. In a bit, you will arrive at Potters Falls, a 30 foot cascade rushing from a narrow canyon into a large pool. (Again, no swimming, but this is a great lunch spot!)

Continue up the trail from Potters Falls. It clmbs steeply and traverses the cliff leading to the base of the 60' dam. Along the way, you will get a top down view of Upper Potters Falls (we haven't heard of any other name, have you?) 100 feet below. We estimated this waterfall to be about 10 feet high.

The trail ends after an extremely steep climb to the top of the 60' dam and the edge of the Ithaca Reservoir. This is the end of the public trail and the No Trespasing signs beyond are also strictly enforced.

Return on upper rim trails between Potters Falls and the 20' dam by keeping high and to the right at Potters Falls. Once past the 20' dam, again keep high and to the right to return to the lower part of the trail a short distance from the parking lot. The woodland parts of this hike pass through a wonderful variety of mature mixed hardwoods and evergreens.

Several references we checked mentioned that there were dog problems, particularly on the lower parts of the trail. However, an organization of dog owners has recently "adopted" the trail and has cleaned up all signs of irresponsible dog owners. We were also pleased at the relative lack of litter on this entire hike. Most areas that are used this heavily have litter problems.