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Posts Tagged ‘Taughannock Falls State Park’

By GILLIAN SCOTT, TimesUnion.com, Click here for PHOTOS & original article

Ithaca may be best known as the home of both Cornell University and Ithaca College, but the city offers a cornucopia of attractions for outdoors enthusiasts.

Situated in a valley on the southern tip of Cayuga Lake, about a three-hour drive from Albany, the city’s streets slope steeply toward the water. There are more than 100 waterfalls and gorges within 10 miles of Ithaca, leading to the local slogan, “Ithaca is Gorges.”

Inveterate hikers, my husband, Herb, and I figured gorges and waterfalls meant lots of hiking. We spent a winter weekend there and found plenty to keep us busy, but none of the crowds the summer months would bring.

When we stopped by Robert H. Treman State Park, our only company was a photographer who had set up his camera to take pictures of the

200 Waterfalls in Central & Western NY

small cascade over the swimming pool.

From June through September, the stream-fed pool at the park is packed with families seeking refuge from the summer heat. Winter is a different story. The dam that raises the water level for the pool was open, and we walked out into the middle of Enfield Creek to admire the view of the nearby poolhouse (built by the Civilian Conservation Corps) and the snow-dusted gorge that rose steeply to either side.

Away from the pool, we had the park’s trails to ourselves. The 2.25-mile Gorge Trail along the northern side of the ravine was closed due to icy conditions, but we were able to hike almost to the end of the Rim Trail on the southern side, catching a glimpse of the magnificent Lucifer Falls from the base of the (closed) Cliff Staircase. We had to go back to the car and drive around to a different park entrance to get a better view of the falls from the top of the staircase.

In addition to Treman, there are three other state parks in close proximity that offer options for outdoor recreation in different seasons, from hiking to swimming to cross-country skiing. There are also wildlife management areas, state forests and preserves. Highlights include:

Taughannock Falls State Park, which boasts hiking trails and a waterfall three stories higher than Niagara Falls (although the width and volume of water is much smaller).

Buttermilk Falls State Park’s features include a waterfall, a small lake and a campground. It’s also home to the gray petaltail dragonfly, a species that has existed since prehistoric times.

Cornell Plantations includes botantical gardens, an arboretum, and trails in the heart of the Cornell University campus.

The 560-mile Finger Lakes Trail, a long-distance hiking trail, cuts through several of the region’s natural areas on its way from the Pennsylvania border to the Catskills.

Take A Hike - Finger Lakes

The family-friendly Cayuga Nature Center offers education programs and exhibits on the region’s natural resources. There are miles of nature trails, a six-story treehouse and a seasonal Butterfly House.

Don’t forget Cayuga Lake, the longest of the Finger Lakes. In warmer months, visitors can swim or rent kayaks to ply the waters.

As many ways as there are to burn calories in Ithaca, there are ways to add them on. We ate dinner two nights in a row at the renowned Moosewood Restaurant. The vegetarian eatery is famous not only because of its interesting culinary creations and focus on local, organic ingredients, but also for the more than a dozen cookbooks it has published. The cozy restaurant is right in downtown Ithaca, with several small, linked dining rooms and efficient service.

Just a block from the Moosewood is Ithaca Commons, a pedestrian mall packed with shops and eateries. We (naturally) liked The Outdoors Store, which sells hiking and cycling equipment, but also drooled over the merchandise at the Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Co. One morning, we also drooled over breakfast waffles at Waffle Frolic, a waffle bar and coffee house on the mall.

On our way out of town, we stopped by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Enthusiastic but amateur birders, we quickly regretted not having left ourselves more time to explore. Instead of the small public area we were expecting, we found a visitor’s center packed with information, exhibits and activities. A friendly volunteer greeted us as we walked in, provided a quick tour and offered to loan us binoculars.

The lab sits among the 230-acre sanctuary of Sapsucker Woods, which includes forest, ponds and swamps, a nice variety of habitat where

Birding in Central & Western NY

more than 200 different species of birds have been spotted. There are more than 4 miles of well-groomed trails through the sanctuary, but shorter loops mean even reluctant walkers should be able to find an acceptable option.

Inside the visitors center are interactive exhibits, including a surround-sound theater offering short movies on birds and birding. The 10-seat theater operates with a user-activated menu so you can pick which movie to watch and when to start it. There are also several touch-screen kiosks with information on bird sounds and identification, and a sound analysis studio, where you can see a visual representation of what different birds sound like and make your own recordings. For the less technologically inclined, the center also features a viewing area over the lake and a feeding station, permanent and rotating art exhibits and a gift shop.

If you go:
Guidebooks:
Take A Hike – Family Walks in NY’s Finger Lakes Region
Take Your Bike – Family Rides in NY’s Finger Lakes Region
200 Waterfalls in Central & Western NY
Take A Paddle – Finger Lakes NY Quiet Water for Canoes & Kayaks
Birding in Central & Western NY


Robert Treman State Park

105 Enfield Falls Road, Ithaca
(607) 273-3440
Open year-round; park hours are subject to change.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30-4 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is free.
Moosewood Restaurant
215 N. Cayuga Street, Ithaca
Hours: Lunch from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday; dinner from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Moosewood does not accept reservations and the menu changes daily.
Waffle Frolic
146 East State, Ithaca
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Teachers Week
From Feb. 17-26, Ithaca hosts Winter Recess Teachers Week, which celebrates public school teachers and school employees with entertainment, activities, family fun and discounts throughout the community. Outdoors events during the week include:
“Taughannock Falls, Miracle of Ice,” on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 11 a.m. A free 90-minute guided tour of the Taughannock gorge along a flat 1.5-mile trail. Dress for winter weather. Snowshoes or cross-country skis are welcome. Free.
Learn to climb on Saturdays, Feb. 18 and 25, from 1-3 p.m.; and Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 7-9 p.m. Try out rock climbing at Cornell University’s Bartels Hall rock-climbing wall. $25.
Guided bird walks at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 25-26 at 9 a.m. Beginner bird walks last about an hour. Free.

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Waterfalls are fun to visit. But let someone like photographer Scott Thomas loose on a waterfall safari to Taughannock Falls and Robert H. Treman State Parks and the resulting photographs are mystical and awe inspiring. Click the links below to see what I mean:

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/view-95-falling-water/

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/water-gorge-cutter/

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/view-96-new-york-waterfalls-in-hdr/

Waterfall finding guidebook: “200 Waterfalls”

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By Christine Smyczynski, The Buffalo News, link to original article

One of the prettiest parks I’ve been to is Taughannock Falls State Park, located on the shores of Cayuga Lake seven miles north of Ithaca, about a three-hour drive from Buffalo. We stopped here for only a few hours, but one could easily spend the entire day here.

The park, as well as the whole Finger Lakes region, was formed more than 10,000 years ago, when glaciers receded, leaving deep, steep-sided troughs. Water filled these troughs, forming the 11 lakes in the Finger Lakes region.

taughannockTaughannock Creek, flowing into Cayuga Lake, formed the three-quarter-mile gorge found in the park. The park’s most spectacular feature is the 215-foot waterfall located deep in the gorge. Three stories taller than Niagara Falls, this waterfall plunges through a rock amphitheater which has walls over 400 feet tall.

The area was once inhabited by the Cayuga Indians, who were at war with the Delaware Indians. There are a couple of theories as to how the falls got its name. Some say it was named after the Delaware chief, Taughannock, whom the Cayuga’s killed and threw over the falls. Others say the name comes from the Delaware word “taghkanic,” which means “great fall in the woods.”

After European settlement, a village located here was a stop for steamboats, which traveled Cayuga Lake in the early 1800s. In 1873, when the railroad came though the area, it became a popular summer vacation destination, with two resort hotels in the area. In 1925 the area became a public park, with many of the park structures built in the 1930’s from the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Great hiking

While we could have driven the park road to the overlook to view the falls from above, which we actually did later in the day, we decided to hike the three-quarter- mile-long trail along the floor of the gorge. It’s a flat, easy to walk trail, with a slight incline in a few spots. It took us about 15 to 20 minutes to get to the falls walking at a leisurely pace. It is stroller accessible and dogs are permitted on a leash.

Along the trail there are reference boards with information about the geology, ecology and history of the area. We learned that 380 million years ago this area was once the bottom of an ancient sea and that the gorge floor is made of limestone that was once lime-mud made from the skeletons and shells of algae and marine organisms.

The walls of the gorge are made of shale, which was formed from clay and silt that settled on the lime-mud and hardened into rock. While you may see some fossils, you must leave them for others to enjoy, as fossil collecting is not permitted in the park. Some of the creatures that now inhabit the gorge include brown bats, rough-winged swallows and pigeons.

Once we reached the falls, we decided that the hike was well worth it. From the gorge floor the falls appeared to be coming right out of the gorge wall; it’s a very pretty view. If you don’t have the time or the ability to hike the gorge trail, you can view the falls from an overlook, located on the upper rim of the gorge right near the park road.

In addition to the gorge trail, there are several other hiking trails located within the park. You can hike a 1n-mile trail along the south gorge rim and a 1z-mile trail along the north rim. There is also a two-mile multiuse trail, which doubles as a cross-country skiing trail in the winter.

The part of the park along the water’s edge is also very pretty. I walked around snapping photos of the lake, while my youngest two children enjoyed the playground in that area. The park has seasonal boat slips as well as overnight transient slips. There is also a swimming area and a fishing pier.

If you enjoy camping, the park has 16 electric and 60 nonelectric campsites. Camping facilities are open late March to mid-October and can be reserved by calling (800) 456-2267 or at www.reserveamerica.com . For those noncampers, like me, there is a lovely country inn, Taughannock Farms Inn, right next to the park. It has 22 guest rooms along with a dining room overlooking the lake. The main building of the inn was built in 1873 as a private residence. Many of the original furnishings are still part of the inn’s decor. It would definitely be a great place to stay for a romantic getaway weekend.

If you go
Taughannock Falls State Park, 2221 Taughannock Road, Trumansburg; (607) 387-6739).
“200 Waterfalls in Central & Western NY – A Finders’ Guide”

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Anyone fascinated by the gorgeous gorges of the Finger Lakes region will find this web site of interest: Finger Lakes Geology. After introductory pages, it gives more detail on Robert Treman, Buttermilk Falls, Taughannock, and Watkins Glen State Parks.

To see these first hand, pick up a copy of “200 Waterfalls in Central & Western New York – A Finders’ Guide.”

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