As I’ve mentioned before, I love New York. Like the if-they-didn’t-get-eight-feet-of-snow-every-winter-I’d-move-there type of love. I’m slowly learning to enjoy the winter months, however my younger sister lived in New York for about five years and I can tell you right now-I don’t enjoy it that much. Its not a far drive coming from Cleveland, so its an easy weekend trip for us to take when time isn’t a luxury. When we decided to visit our northern neighbor this year, we had a pretty open schedule, with only a few concrete plans. Taughannock Falls was actually just sitting on my “maybe” list due to the fact that western New York had been in the middle of a drought when we arrived and the falls hadn’t really been flowing all summer.
I had been keeping tabs on the water levels to see if it’d be worth the drive out towards Ithaca and luckily for us western New York had received a ton of rain right before we arrived and the falls were all flowing beautifully!
Taughannock Falls State Park is a fairly small state park, with three main trails for hiking and other trails that branch off of those. The overlook for the falls is also available here and while it can get crowded, its definitely worth the stop.
We were only able to explore here for a few hours as the weather started to turn on us and we couldn’t seem to escape the rain. Knowing we might not have an entire day to look around, we headed for the Gorge Trail to see Taughannock Falls. Once you arrive to the park off Rte 89, there are signs that will generally direct you to where you want to go. Some of the parking lots are bigger than others, but we had no trouble finding any parking while we were here.
If you park across from Cayuga Lake, the Gorge Trail will lead you through the woods and in 3/4 mile, you will reach the beautiful Falls. The trail itself is quite scenic as it follows the path of Taughannock Creek and through the gorges.
Taughannock Falls is one of the largest single drop waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains and is actually 3 stories higher than Niagara Falls! So needless to say, when its flowing, it is quite majestic. And definitely makes you remember just how small you really are. Simply stunning.
Again, pay attention to the signs. I was too busy taking photos to notice the sign that said stay to the left side and before I knew it, there were bits of shale falling from the gorge! Luckily, they were small, however I can see why they have the signs there.
As we headed back, we made sure to head across the road to see Cayuga Lake. We didn’t get to stay there much because it suddenly started to storm pretty heavily and we had to leave, but it would be a great place for a picnic or to catch a nice breeze off the lake in the summer.
Although a short, flat, easy hike, Taughannock Falls was one of my favorite stops on our four day weekend to western New York and I can’t wait to go back to see what the rest of the trails look like when the weather is better!
Check the Taughannock Falls State Park website for information on trail conditions, water quality and events.
Cost is $8 per vehicle, however it is only collected 4/16-10/16. We were able to park for free since we went closer to the end of October. They accept the Empire Passport here as well.
If you have more time, check out a local winery or explore other nearby waterfalls- there are plenty of them around here!
Be sure to pack drinks/snacks if you are planning to spend much time here in the off season. There is a concession stand here, however it is only open seasonally.
Restrooms are available at the Falls Overlook parking lot. Other lots we only saw port-a-johns available, so I would definitely take advantage of the nice ones while you have the chance!
If you’re looking to stay within the park, you can find camping information here and they also have cabin rentals available.