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Taughannock Falls State Park in Ulysses, NY

After we spent the previous afternoon hiking the Watkins Glen Gorge, I didn’t think anything could nearly compare to its majestic beauty. However, I was in complete awe of the massive waterfall at Taughannock Falls State Park. Taughannock Falls is located just outside of Ithaca in the village of Ulysses, New York in the Finger Lakes region.

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As we walked towards the Gorge Trail path, we really didn’t know what to expect. In researching this trip, I asked some folks over at the Tripadvisor forums which state parks around Ithaca would be the best to visit. People from the area overwhelming told us to visit Taughannock, so we definitely worked it into our plans.

Lower Falls

As we approached the Gorge Trail, we noticed a small waterfall flowing over a few rocky ledges down to a shallow pond below. The main waterfall gradually flowed down to this tiny waterfall dubbed the “Lower Falls”. From there, the water slowly flows back into Cayuga Lake (one of the Finger Lakes).

Our hike along the Gorge Trail was only 3/4 mile in length until we reached Taughannock Falls. It was a very easy hike as the terrain was quite flat. Many people were walking along here with their families and their pet dogs as it was a beautiful day outside. It also happened to be my birthday that day – it’s usually safe to plan an outdoor activity on this day, as it’s only ever rained once on my birthday!

We walked along the shaded trail path, while many other people decided to walk on a flat, rocky ledge beside the water. It was extremely shallow in this spot as the water slowly flowed towards the Lower Falls.

As we walked closer and closer towards the Falls, we could see imposing rocky cliffs across the shallow river. It was difficult to capture just how high these cliffs were! The water grew deeper as we approached Taughannock Falls.

Our path diverted a little bit from the main river, so it was no longer in sight.

We walked around a bend and reached the end of our trail path. It was absolutely amazing, I could hardly believe my eyes! Taughannock Falls was magnificent! We did not expect this spectacular waterfall to be right around the corner.

Taughannock Falls plunges 215 feet down to the river below. To give you a little perspective, Niagara Falls features a 167-foot vertical drop, making Taughannock quite a bit taller than Niagara! The cliffs themselves stretch about 400 feet above the gorge. We hopped over a short barrier to join the people that had gathered at the base of the waterfall. It was quite misty and very refreshing on a warm day!

Some quick facts about visiting Taughannock Falls:
  • While it costs $7 to park your vehicle, it is free to enter the State Park. The parking ticket can be used at any other State Park in the area for the remainder of the day.
  • There are a few other trails in this area: the North Rim Trail, the South Rim Trail, and some Multi-Use trails. Make sure you grab a park map from the visitor’s booth to see your options.
  • There is a secondary parking lot at the top of the Falls that we did not have time to visit. You can see the view from the top of the waterfall down below. I suspect that our view was better than that one.
  • If you visit during the summer months, you can swim in Cayuga Lake, which is a quick walk across Route 89 towards the lake, Marina, and picnic areas.
  • You can camp at the Taughannock State Park if you’d like!
  • The hike can easily be completed within an hour. If you’re short on time, yet want to see a beautiful waterfall amongst gorgeous nature, be sure to check it out!

Have you ever heard of Taughannock Falls? What is your favourite waterfall to visit?


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