Taughannock Falls

After dropping Emily off on Saturday morning at Wells for a visit with her friends, I was on my own to explore the area.  It was still a bit drizzly, but the forecast predicted clearing for the afternoon.  I drove down the east side of Cayuga Lake, got lost only briefly in Ithaca, and then headed up the west side of the lake toward Taughannock Falls State Park.

Trail to the FallsThe trail to the falls is wide, pothole-free, and mostly level – just a few modest inclines now and again.  It is about 3/4 of a mile long and hugs the south bank of the creek upstream to the bottom of the falls.

At the time I visited, the water was low enough that lots of people opted for a walk IN the creek, rather than beside it:

Trail to the Falls - Wet Version

At the end of the trail, you cross a footbridge to a viewing platform.

Footbridge at the Falls  Creek-Level Viewing Platform

The water drops 215 feet, more distance than the water at Niagara Falls…  though, obviously, not nearly as much water!  (The falls on the US side at Niagara are Taughannock Falls167 feet high and those on the Canadian side are 158 feet.)  If you click some of the links below, especially the last one, you will find pictures of the falls at different times of the year when there is more water going over.

After returning from the creek trail, I ate some lunch and drank some water.  I checked out the maps and decided to try the rim trail…  It’s probably a little under 4 miles if you make the entire loop, which I did.  The beginning and the end are both rather rugged and steep, but once you are up on the rim, it’s fairly level.  There are stone steps on both the north and south sides to help with the steep parts.  There are more vistas on the north side; the woods on the south side are shady and pleasant.


Here is a view of Cayuga Lake – which the creek dumps into, taken from a viewing spot on the North Rim.
Cayuga Lake

A few steps further offered this view looking upstream:
View from the North Rim

You can actually drive up to this viewing platform, a popular spot for photographs, as you can see:
Viewing Platform from along the North Rim

The rim trail goes a little ways upstream from the main falls to give a view of the Upper Falls, none of my pictures of which turned out.

After I turned the corner and headed back downstream on the south side, in the stretch between the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls, there are a view vistas of the winding creek.  The walls of the gorge are teaming with wildlife, including plants and trees.  Here is a thriving White Pine:
White Pine Above the Gorge

And there were plenty of Redcedar:

Here you can see the footbridge:
Footbridge from the South Rim

And here, you can see the approach to the viewing platform.  There are no views of the falls from the South Rim trail.
Creek-Level Viewing Platform from the South Rim

Once I passed the main falls, the woods was shady and pleasant.  There were plenty of fungi growing on fallen logs.  I really liked this purple one:
Purple Ones

Here, I am looking down the steps on the south rim trail:

(Oh, by the way…  one of the features I appreciated because of my fear of heights was the sturdy chain link fence on the creek side of the rim trail!  It made me feel very safe and secure.)

It was a beautiful walk and I highly recommend it!

Learn more:

8 thoughts on “Taughannock Falls

  1. My husband grew up on a farm on the edge of Taughannock State Park, and I lived a few miles down the road. My dad tells the story of stopping by the overlook on a February day, when the falls was frozen over, and as he stepped out of his car, the ice cracked and the “falls” fell. He said he will never forget the sound.

  2. If you’re back in the area later in the year I can’t recommend enough stopping by to see the falls when it’s frozen. If you get there at just the right time of year when it’s below freezing but there is enough water flow it continually snows on the viewing platform at the bottom of the falls. It’s absolutely magical. I went to Cornell and plan on taking my kids back one of these winters just to experience the falls.

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