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.

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!

Here’s a video we made at Taughannock Falls!

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


42 Responses

  1. Wow, those falls look impressive! Is this one of the ones that is open in wintertime?

    • I’m not 100% because I haven’t looked it up, but I’m pretty sure I did hear someone mention that it looked really cool in the winter! So I will keep my fingers crossed for you that it is!

  2. BavarianSojourn
    | Reply

    What an amazing place. That water fall is incredible! :)

  3. Corinne Vail
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    Justin and Lauren, Upstate NY has so many beautiful places to visit, and who doesn’t love a waterfall, especially in the heat of summer! Love it!

    • We were amazed by the amount of beautiful places to visit there! And there’s still more waiting for us when we return sometime!

  4. Sabina
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    “This park looks absolutely stunning,” I thought and then I saw the waterfalls. Absolutely incredible!

  5. Ming @OnALim1
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    All that lush greenery caught my eye as well! I love the summer time in North America.

  6. Freya
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    Looks like a stunning place for a hike. Very impressive waterfalls. Great shots

  7. veganinbrighton
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    What an incredibly beautiful place to spend your birthday. I really need to visit Upstate NY again, we were road tripping from NYC to Chicago last time so we didn’t have anywhere near enough time to check out everything the area has to offer.

    • You’ll have to go back and visit Farm Sanctuary again anyway, so while you’re at it, there are a few more places to stop :) And if you do come up through Toronto, let me know!

  8. Who knew that such a beautiful waterfall existed in NY? Next time I visit friends up that way, I’m making them take me there! Nice job getting the pics to show the mammoth scale of the falls- sometimes scale can be so hard to capture in a photo.

  9. Megan Claire
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    Wow this looks amazing! We’re actually heading to NY next week so will definitely set aside some time for this! Thanks!!

    • You should definitely try to visit this place, as well as the Watkins Glen Gorge that I wrote about in another post…and I’m going to be writing about another place in an upcoming post so you can see that one, too! :)

  10. Mrs Chasing the Donkey
    | Reply

    Ohh nice one guys. This looks so great, that video is awesome. Big thanks for joining us for #SundayTraveler once again.
    And nice new header :)

    • Thank you! It took me quite a while to get the header right last night :) LOL anyone who came to the blog last night may have seen a few random ones up there as I was testing them out!

  11. Hannah Logan
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    So pretty! And what a perfect looking day to enjoy it. Love your photos, especially those of the waterfall! And happy belated birthday!

  12. Christa Thompson
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    Good stuff! I am from the Adirondack Mountains in New York state and there are many stunning sites like this. So many people are unaware of just how beautiful the state is. When I was a child, we would hike to hidden waterfalls all the time, swim in creeks, and roll down giant hillsides. I miss NY, but I love the beach too. I’ve lived in Florida for a while now. It was nice to relive this one. Thanks for writing it!

    • I’ve heard about how beautiful the Adirondack Mountains are! That would be a great place to live! Of course, Florida is really nice too – gotta love the beach! It’s nice you’ve been able to enjoy the best of both worlds so far!

  13. CarmensTravelTips
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    Beautiful waterfall. What a great place to go spend the day.

  14. Antonette Spaan
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    This would be a great place for a daytrip. The Taughannock Falls are just gorgeous and would be a perfect place just to sit down and admire for a while.

  15. The Crowded Planet
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    Amazing place! Just shows how little I know about upstate NY… your posts never cease to amaze me!

  16. Alli
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    I love how adventurous and outdoorsy all your posts are. This waterfall is gorgeous! As is the lush green hiking trails!

  17. LovePuffin Travels
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    This looks incredible!! I just recently visited Helmcken Falls in Wells Gray Provincial Park in Canada – that was the best falls I’ve seen in a while. Also love Iguasu Falls in Argentina and Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. LOVE a good waterfall! Lovely to find your adventures, hope to follow along!

  18. slightly astray
    | Reply

    Wow, beautiful! I never knew that there were so many beautiful natural sites in New York! This is one tall waterfall!

    • It is amazing because I find it isn’t that well publicized how many natural sites there are in New York state! Hope we can inspire some people to visit there!

  19. Chris Boothman
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    I am a real sucker for waterfalls so you can pretty much guarantee that I have added Taughannock Falls to our bucket list. Not sure exactly what it is about the natural phenomena of waterfalls, maybe it’s just because they are so relaxing to watch as the water crashes over the edge and the sound is very soothing.

    This likely doesn’t receive as much attention as Niagara given that they are both in NY but this is equally as stunning in its own right and deservedly should get visitors to explore this state park! Thanks for sharing and we look forward to visiting ourselves.

    • I hope that you get out there sometime – so many waterfalls in New York State! If you ever come up into the Southern Ontario area where we are from, first of all, we can meet up for lunch! :) And I can show you some waterfalls in our neck of the woods that are awesome, too! Maybe I will get around to posting about them sometime!

  20. Adelina | Pack Me To
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    It’s hard to imagine falls bigger than Niagara. They must really be massive in real life.

  21. Ashley Hubbard
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    Beautiful falls and park! I’d love to visit here. I’m always amazed by waterfalls and this one looks amazing!

  22. Stacey Veikalas
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    This is just beautiful and a place I had never heard of! Gorgeous and looks like a great way to spend the day – especially for a hot day in the summer! thank you for writing so beautiful!!

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