Taughannock Falls, New York

If you’re looking for the tall waterfalls, Taughannock Falls should be high on that list. It isn’t even the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, which is often considered a dividing line for waterfall classification. There are other waterfalls that are taller, including Upper Whitewater Falls in North Carolina. Taughannock Falls is in the tall category because it is one of the largest single plunge falls east of the Mississippi at over 200′, though one or two others may be larger.

Does that mean that Taughannock Falls is one of my favorite falls? No…It’s tall, but height isn’t everything. Taughannock Falls doesn’t have a whole lot of complexity, which I think is what makes waterfalls interesting. The far more interesting aspect of Taughannock Falls is the amazing gorge it has carved. At some points along the hike to view the base of the falls, you’re actually in a gorge that is something like 400′ above you. The rock formations are truly spectacular. It’s mindblowing to think that this falls has created such an interesting gorge.

Directions (to view base of the falls):

  1. From Ithaca, head north on NY-89.
  2. After a ways, you’ll end up at Taughannock Falls State Park. There are two different parking areas here. Park in either one and pay the entrance fee.
  3. Follow the 1 mile trail to the falls.

There is another view of the falls from above. To get to this viewpoint, continue north on NY-89 a short ways to Taughannock Park Rd. and turn left. From there, head a ways to the viewpoint, which would be on the left if you’re heading west.

Accessibility: 9/10 (to base), 10/10 (from upper viewpoint)
Height: 215′
Length of Hike: 2 miles round-trip

Taughannock Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Taughannock Falls?

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Denison Falls, New York

Off in an corner of a nature center near Ithaca is where you’ll find Denison Falls. It’s not far from the much taller Taughannock Falls and is only a few miles from Ithaca. It is also very easy to get to the top of the falls from the parking area, though I don’t think there’s anyway to get to the base of the falls. This falls might be one that is better viewed in winter or fall when the leaves are off the trees, as the trees have a tendency to block parts of the falls.

Right next to Denison Falls at the nature center is probably the main attraction. It’s a huge 4 or 5 story treehouse, which is sure to excite the child in everyone. We got to the falls, and my dad decided to check out the treehouse. It’s a very nicely built tree house. Check out the treehouse while you’re there, though it’d be hard to miss!

Directions:

  1. From Ithaca, somehow head north on NY-89. How to get onto NY-89 can be difficult to figure out when you’re not familiar with the area.
  2. Head north on NY-89 for about five miles.
  3. On your left, you’ll see a sign for the Cayuga Nature Center. Turn left and then park at the nature center.
  4. Follow the signs to the tree house and falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 21′
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles round-trip

Denison Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Denison Falls?