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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 for this.


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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Last modified: 03-Oct-2006