It's no secret that the Ithaca area is loaded with
waterfalls. Pick up any tourist publication and you'll see a
picture of one. They're one of the many reasons tourists come to
the area. But as residents, have you visited the waterfalls in
your own neighborhood? There's something in human nature
that pushes us to seek adventure outside our home turf and put
less value on the possibilities just outside our door. This
spring and summer, consider going on a waterfall quest in
It's impossible to
remain stressed as you sit by a waterfall. In these days of busy
schedules and hectic lives, it's important to take time out to
enjoy the soothing effects that a waterfall can provide. And,
walking to a waterfall is good exercise. Who among us doesn't
need more exercise?
The majority of Ithaca's waterfalls can be found in the three
creekbeds that bisect the city on their way to Cayuga Lake. Fall
Creek, as the name implies, is dotted with waterfalls. Closest
to the lake is 150-foot-high Ithaca Falls, a prime swim area as
well as a mesmerizing waterfall. Take a two-mile round-trip hike
east from Stewart Avenue on the Cayuga Trail and you' ll pass
Forest Falls, Foaming Falls, Rocky Falls and finally Triphammer
Falls in the heart of Cornell University.
Slightly south of Fall Creek is Cascadilla Creek. Begin your
climb from the corner of West Court Street and Linn Street for a
1.4-mile round-trip hike up the gorge. You'll pass nine
waterfalls with a culmination at 50-foot-high Cascadilla Falls.
Further upstream is Judd Falls, where Reuben Judd operated a
water powered woolen mill from 1832 to 1858. This waterfall can
be viewed from Judd Falls Road where the Ithaca Recreationway
Trail crosses the road on an old railroad bridge.
The third waterfall laden creekbed is Six Mile Creek. A short
walk from the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve parking area leads
to Wells (or Business Man' s Lunch) Falls which is now capped
with Van Nattas Dam. Hike the opposite direction for 4.8 miles
round-trip and you'll pass two waterfalls created by dams on
your way to Potter's Falls. Potter's Falls is a 25-foot-high,
jagged-edged cascade nestled in a deep forest. It's the perfect
place to contemplate your existence.
Even now, you're far from done exploring the waterfalls of
Ithaca. Head south to explore Buttermilk Falls in Buttermilk
Falls State Park and Lucifer and Lower Falls in Robert H. Treman
State Park, and hike a segment of the Finger Lakes Trail to see
three waterfalls in Lick Brook. Then change to Teva-type sandals
or old sneakers and get your feet wet creekwalking up VanBuskirk
Gorge to enjoy two more impressive waterfalls.
Free slide show
"Local Trails & Waterfalls"
Sunday, June 9th, 2002 at 4pm
Borders Books & Music
Pyramid Mall, Ithaca
Learn where to go to enjoy the outdoors
near Ithaca. Rich & Sue Freeman, authors of 7
guidebooks to area trails, will present a slide show on
local trails for hiking, dog walking, bicycling, skiing,
and waterfall discovery. This is part of the
grand-opening events for this new Borders store.
You're still not done. North of Ithaca you'll find
Taughannock Falls on the west side of Cayuga Lake and
Ludlowville Falls on the east side. Head over to Dryden and
follow the Finger Lakes Trail to Bud Brook where twelve
waterfalls are your reward.
Whew, I'm out of breath just talking about exploring the
waterfalls around Ithaca. Your quest won't be easy. Reaching
many of these waterfalls requires long hikes, steep climbs or
the mastery of many steps. But, oh the rewards. Your heart will
pump healthier and your senses will be enriched with new sights
Finding these and hundreds of other waterfalls is now
simplified, thanks to the new guidebook "200 Waterfalls in
Central and Western New York - A Finders' Guide" (Footprint
Press, www.footprintpress.com, 1-800-431-1579). Packed with
maps, driving directions, helpful hints, and historical tidbits,
this book should be a staple in your car glove box. That way you
can pop in for a quick waterfall visit and instant stress relief
wherever life takes you, in the Ithaca area or across central
and western New York.