Exploring Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca, NY

From Taughannock Falls, we took a quick jaunt over to another State Park in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, Robert H. Treman State Park. It is located just on the outskirts of Ithaca, about a 10 minute drive from Taughannock making it very easy to see both of these parks in one day. I would definitely recommend seeing both of these parks as they are both unique and lovely in their own way.

A History of Robert H. Treman State Park

Before the arrival of European settlers to what is now known as New York State, the Cayuga Tribe of Native Americans lived in the area, one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). During the Revolutionary War, the Cayugas (allies of the British) were partially driven from the area by the Continental Army. Settlers from Europe started to move into the area in the 1790s and began to farm. In 1839, a water-powered gristmill was built in the park, which was used for grinding corn and wheat until 1917. This “Old Mill” has been fully restored and visitors are able to check it out. In 1920, Robert and Laura Treman donated 387 acres of land to the State, and Robert Treman became the first chair of the newly formed Finger Lakes State Parks Commission. Upon his death in 1938, this park was renamed in his memory.

The Landscape of Robert H. Treman State Park

The park’s area has increased since Robert Treman originally donated the land; it is now 1074 acres in size. Water has shaped the natural landscape of the park – over the past million years, glaciers covered New York State several times, drastically transforming the terrain. The most recent glacier moved through the Finger Lakes region, carving out deep troughs in its path. Water filled these steep troughs creating the 11 Finger Lakes, including Cayuga Lake in this area. Throughout Robert H. Treman State Park, Enfield Creek has continually flowed down the glacially-steepened hillside, cutting away parts of the soft sedimentary rock to create the park’s gorge and waterfalls.

Lucifer Falls

Our Experiences

When we arrived at Robert H. Treman State Park, we drove and parked our car at the Lower Park Entrance. After talking to a staff member at the information booth, we discovered that there are many hiking trails that would take us to Lucifer Falls. However, since we did lots of hiking the day before at the Watkins Glen State Park, and had just visited Taughannock Falls, we thought it might be a good idea to take the shorter walk towards the Falls from the Upper Park Entrance. If you choose to hike from the Lower Park Entrance, you can take the Gorge Trail or the Rim Trail, which both run about 2.25 miles in length.

We took a short drive along NYS Route 327 to the Upper Park Entrance where we were also able to park our car. Part of the trails were under construction at this time, so if you’re visiting, be sure to follow the Rim Trail from up top instead of the Gorge Trail. If you follow the Gorge Trail, you will reach a point where you won’t be able to walk any farther, and you’ll have to turn around and go back to the Rim Trail to continue your journey.

After a short hike on a hilly trail, we reached an overlook point for Lucifer Falls. It was a lovely view of the waterfall from up top. Lucifer Falls is 115 feet tall, dropping over several rocky ledges of the gorge. The cliffs of the gorge itself surround the waterfall from all sides.

We continued along our hike and soon reached a staircase, taking us down below to Enfield Creek. There were many, many stairs – it was a great workout!

Going down the stairs was a bit of work (not as much as walking back up them!), but we were surrounded by so much green – there were trees, ferns, and plants growing everywhere!

There were several spots on the staircase where people had stopped for a rest, or just to stop and enjoy the view! Some fellow hikers were kind enough to point out a snake to us at one point hidden in the plants. I’m sure there were plenty of other animals living in the forest that were staying clear of the human visitors.

Lucifer Falls

When we reached the bottom, we immediately knew that the descending climb down those stairs had been worthwhile. We were rewarded with a spectacular view of Lucifer Falls. At the bottom, we found a natural swimming pool below the waterfall, but at this time of the year it was a little too chilly to go for a dip.

To get a closer view of the Falls, we decided to follow in the footsteps of a few other brave individuals and cross the river. We took off our socks, shoes, secured the camera, and hoped that neither of us slipped on some rocks. We waded through the creek from the hiking trail to the other side, where we could perch on some rocky ledges closer to the waterfall.

Enfield Creek where we crossed to get closer to Lucifer Falls.

The water came up to my thighs at some points – it was a good thing I was wearing shorts that day! Justin is much taller than me, so the water only came up to his knees. We both made it across without falling in, and felt rather adventurous for doing so!

It was absolutely gorgeous down below Lucifer Falls, so please make sure you do the hike (either from the Lower Park Entrance or the Upper Park Entrance) and check out the waterfall from the overlook and from the river’s edge. If you’re here in the summer, you can wear your bathing suit and go for a swim in the natural pool!

Tips for Visiting Robert H. Treman State Park:

  • We parked here for free as we had visited another State Park during the same day. Take advantage of this and visit Taughannock Falls in the same day, or neighboring Buttermilk Falls (we didn’t get the chance to visit here…maybe next time!)
  • There are campgrounds here as well as cabins if you’re looking to stay the night. Visit the State Park website for more details.
  • Park at the Lower Entrance if you’re interested in going for a lengthier hike; park at the Upper Entrance if you’d like a shorter hike, but don’t mind going down some stairs to see the waterfall from down below.
  • Make sure you stop at the Information Booth located within the park’s Lower Entrance for a map and any guidance from a park ranger that you might need.
  • The Gorge Trail is closed during the winter season; all other trails are normally open all year long. Please check the park’s official website as trails can close during varying weather conditions at any point during the year.

Robert H. Treman State Park

105 Enfield Falls Road

Ithaca, New York

Have you visited the Finger Lakes Region of New York State before?


We’re linking up this week with #WeekendWanderlust hosted by A Brit and A Southerner! Check out their post about where they call home in Jonesboro, Arkansas, as well as all of the other lovely blogs that have linked up there! Grab a coffee and travel the world from the comfort of your own home.
Part of the #SundayTraveler series hosted by some lovely travel bloggers! Check out Pack Me To’s post about Vancouver Neighbourhoods and add your link to the list!

69 Responses

  1. Baskets Life Travel
    | Reply

    Another Great Post on State Parks and super beautiful. Now I have another Place to add to our Bucket List – the waterfalls are spectacular! Thank you for sharing! :)

    • You’re very welcome! This area is great to visit – this region is definitely spoiled with the amount of waterfalls and gorges!

  2. Brianna @ The Casual Travelist
    | Reply

    I spent part of my childhood near Utica, these landscapes bring me back!

  3. Lovely! What was the temperature when you visited? It looks lovely and warm so it’s a bit of a suprise that it was too cold for swimming!

    • Well, it was early June when we visited and while the temperature outside was quite warm, the water hadn’t had much time to warm up. I think normally, it might have been warm enough at this time of year to swim there – but our winter extended way too long this year, way more than usual, which seemed to delay everything! We did see one person swimming there, but he was quite courageous! It was a bit cold on our legs when we waded through!

  4. budgetjan
    | Reply

    Beautiful view of the falls from the bottom but I am not a big fan of stairs :(

    • Unfortunately you would have to use them to get to the top (or bottom, depending on where you start). But if you don’t love stairs, you could start at the top, and take the hike to the lookouts, and just not go all the way to the bottom! You’d still enjoy a great view!

  5. The park looks so pretty, I love the landscape, good thing you took advantage and stopped in. :)

  6. Ben @ Road Affair
    | Reply

    The fall looks very beautiful. I have lived in NY but never had the time to make it to the park. Seems like I might have to go back for some hiking.

  7. Mandie Sanders
    | Reply

    Great tips on combining park visits & some gorgeous photos! I’m a sucker for waterfalls, so this will probably get added to my state-park-road-trip-extravaganza lol

  8. Jameela Deen
    | Reply

    Nature is always impressive and your pictures are amazing. Remind me a little of les Gorges du Tarn in southern France (minus the waterfall), all this green and high cliffs like that. Beautiful, must have been a really lovely day.

  9. Bob R
    | Reply

    I’ve been to a few wineries in the Finger Lakes region about 15 years ago, but never to any of the parks in the area. This looks like a very nice spot.

    • I’ve had some wine from this region in the past and it was lovely! I’d like to do a wine tour of the region, too, that would be really fun.

  10. Axelle Lot
    | Reply

    Looks a cool thing to do when visiting NY, something else than the usual stuff :), greetings http://bonbagage.com

  11. Dave
    | Reply

    Those waterfalls have certainly carved some beautiful scenery. This part of New York is so chocked full of natural wonders like this park.

    • It really is! There are so many places to visit within a short distance. Really great for those who love waterfalls and gorges!

  12. Jessica
    | Reply

    What a beautiful park, and great pictures. I’d definitely love to have a dip in the natural swimming pool beneath Lucifer Falls.

    • Oh I would also love to go back when it was a bit warmer out and do the same! I’m not sure this year though, our summer has been a lot cooler than usual. Although I’m sure those who are daring enough could go for a dip!

  13. We really need to plan another trip to Finger Lakes this summer so that we can check out these waterfalls.

    • Yes, you should go! There’s also a third waterfall, Buttermilk Falls, within a short driving distance that we didn’t get the chance to visit that I heard is really pretty.

  14. CarmensTravelTips
    | Reply

    What beautiful landscapes and waterfalls. I didn’t know this park existed. We’ll have to add it to our list of places to see next time we go to NY.

  15. Travelling Penster
    | Reply

    Wow I had no idea this gorgeous, lush place existed! Great photos :)

  16. Charli & Ben
    | Reply

    I’d love to have seen the US before the arrival of the European settlers. To think of just how different life was for the Cayuga Tribe when they lived in the region is fascinating! Great post, and great photography!

  17. Milosz Zak
    | Reply

    Looks great! It’s amazing what we have in our part of the world. They should use this environment for District 13 in the third movie.

    • There are places in our own backyard worth exploring sometimes, or even a relatively short driving distance away! :)

  18. Hannah Logan
    | Reply

    Yet another incredible looking park, with more amazing waterfalls! Love it. Though I have to say, as a fellow Canadian, too cold for a dip? C’mon now ;)

    • I’m a bit of a chicken, what can I say! :) I probably could have pushed myself to have swam in it, if I had my bathing suit that day :)

  19. Jess
    | Reply

    I had no idea there were waterfalls like that in New York state – I really need to go upstate more!

    • There are so many waterfalls within a short driving distance, at least 3 in that area if not more! Check it out if you get the chance sometime!

  20. Tripper
    | Reply

    Absolutely gorgeous place! Thank you for showing and sharing.

  21. I’ve never been to this part of New York. Those falls and splashing in the natural pool are a great reward for your hike. With my luck, I’d have probably slipped crossing the river.

  22. TravellingWeasels
    | Reply

    Gosh it really is beautiful and unique! I love New York

  23. The Crowded Planet
    | Reply

    This is so beautiful! Thanks for showing us the natural wonders of NY state, after Watkins Glen, Lucifer Falls look amazing! I think I wouldn’t resist going for a dip, even though it was chilly. Thanks for the tips on how to plan a trip there!

    • So many beautiful waterfalls all in that area…Taughannock Falls, Lucifer Falls, all of the ones at Watkins Glen, Buttermilk Falls (which we didn’t get the chance to visit) and more!

  24. Chris Boothman
    | Reply

    Always love exploring state parks because they have such majestic scenery and the hiking trails will generally lead you to some amazing overlooks and spots for great photography.

    Robert H. Treman State Park in NY looks like another great park worth exploring! I think I have mentioned before on another of your posts that both Heather and I love visiting waterfalls so Lucifer Falls would be a must on our ‘to-do’ list.

    • State Parks are truly wonderful! I think I’ve given you guys a few waterfalls to check out if you’re ever in this area as we are quite the fans of them, too! :) There are some near our place where we live as well, if you ever come up towards Toronto, I can show you some awesome ones that are off the beaten path :)

  25. Antonette Spaan
    | Reply

    Great story. I had never heard of this place before but it looks a nice place to spend an afternoon. The Lucifer Falls are really gorgeous. It would be so much fun to cross the river, especially when the weather is hot so it can cool you down for a bit :-)

  26. Christina
    | Reply

    Great tips fot the Robert H. Treman State Park. The Lucifer Falls are beautiful and have an interesting name.

  27. Colette D
    | Reply

    Not an area I was aware of, great to explore areas outside of nyc. It looks stunning there!

  28. Karisa Blake
    | Reply

    I really need to get out of New York City next time I’m in the state! This looks like a great little detour :)

    • It’s a bit farther out from the city, but definitely something different to see, contrasting the big city!

  29. Elena Nacheva
    | Reply

    Those waterfalls look gorgeous! I would definitely swim if I go there!

  30. Kristen Sarra
    | Reply

    The pictures are great! Thanks for sharing. I live in New York City and am constantly going upstate on hiking trips. I’ve never been to Ithaca though. I am definitely putting it on my list!

    • Thank you so much! :) I hope you get to Ithaca at some point soon and get to see all of the natural beauty there!

  31. Karen Warren
    | Reply

    Looks like a fantastic place for walking. I liked the bit about the history of the park too.

  32. Christa Thompson
    | Reply

    Looks like the makings of a great time, especially in the summer.

  33. Adelina | Pack Me To
    | Reply

    So many fantastic parks to explore in this area. Looks gorgeous.

  34. Ashley Hubbard
    | Reply

    This park looks great as well! Y’all are making me want ot visit this area more and more! My grandparents had a horse farm in upperstate NY and while I love NYC, I hate when people don’t realize what else the state has to offer! Thanks for linking up!

  35. lily
    | Reply

    Thanks for your article ! I arrived on your blog bc I was looking for some infos about sanctuary farm and hiking in the area. I don’t have a lot of time to visit :-(. If you had to pick, which one would you recommend between Robert H State Park and Watkins Glen ? Thank you for your help !

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