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?

Wells Falls, New York

Wells Falls (also known as Businessman’s Lunch Falls or Van Natta’s Falls) is one of my favorite waterfalls near Ithaca. This one is off in a different area of Ithaca, but is still relatively easy to view. Well, once you get to it. Traffic and driving in Ithaca can be difficult. To get to Wells Falls, you’re either going up an incline or driving down it. Either way, you’ve got make some pretty quick turns, otherwise you’ll miss the roads leading to the waterfall.

Once you’ve gotten to the waterfall, enjoy the old dam/power plant/whatever it is that is right next to the falls. It’s windows are shuddered up, but that just makes this waterfall all the more interesting. Getting to the base of the falls is also a cool thing to do, though this does involve trying to figure out how to get down to the base in the first place. Once you’re down at the base, pay attention for two other smaller waterfalls that may be falling down the cliffs. These waterfalls will probably be more apparent in spring.


  1. From the center of Ithaca, head out on East NY-79.
  2. You’ll pass the intersection for NY-366, but do not turn here. Shortly after that, you’re going to turn onto Water St.
  3. Water St. will end at the parking lot of a nature preserve that is right next to Six Mile Creek.
  4. Park in the nature preserve and walk across Giles St. and over the bridge that crosses Six Mile Creek.
  5. After you have passed the bridge, you have two options. First option: There is a trail that has been widely used that you will come up to first. This trail can give you some very good views of the crest of the falls, but not the base. If you continue on the trail, you will most likely end up with the trail ending abruptly. Second option: If you go a very short distance further, you’ll will notice a somewhat inclined trail/rock road/path that leads downward. If you follow this trail, you’ll end up with a much better view of the base of the falls. Try both options for multiple photo opportunities. You’ll also see Lace Falls, which is a freebie waterfall.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 65′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Wells Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Wells Falls?

Rocky Falls, New York

Scattered throughout the Cornell University campus are a number of waterfalls. I was walking around the campus one day with my camera and found this waterfall. At the time, I didn’t even know it’s name, since there’s no reason to advertise the numerous waterfalls. People will find them without much difficulty.

I believe there are other viewpoints of Rocky Falls than just from above. I’m just not sure how to get to them, partly because I wasn’t really paying attention at the time. There are other falls in Fall Creek Gorge, so pay attention!


  1. I’m not even sure how to give directions to this waterfall. Cornell University’s campus, as with many other campuses, is not easy to navigate. It may be easier to do so in the summer when there are fewer students around. Parking is also extremely difficult to find, but it does become more available after 5 or 6 pm.
  2. One option for viewing the falls is going onto Cornell’s campus, and finding Fall Creek Drive. Fall Creek runs parallel. There may be parking there, though I can’t remember.
  3. Multiple pedestrian suspension bridges cross the river. The view of the falls comes from one of the pedestrian suspension bridge shown in this.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy, from above)
Height: 25′
Length of Hike: variable depending on starting location

Rocky Falls in March 2006

Where in the World is Rocky Falls?

Cascadilla Falls #1, New York

When we arrived in early May, most of the Cascadilla Gorge Trail was closed. We were able to see the first three falls in the gorge, and then the rest of the trail was blocked. If you want to see more of the gorge and more falls, you should show up in mid-May or later.

The first drop that I viewed on the Cascadilla Gorge was a very nice cascading waterfall that doesn’t really even require entry onto the gorge trail. It can be seen at the entrance of the park. It is also the furthest downriver. A short hike will get you closer to the falls, though.


  1. When you’re in Ithaca, try to somehow get to Linn Street. A GPS system would probably be very helpful if you don’t know the area. You can try and park on Linn Street, though when I visited, that was virtually impossible. It is much easier to park on one of the streets running perpendicular to Linn. I parked at a parking meter near a church.
  2. Head back to the entrance to the Gorge, which looks like a park.
  3. Start walking up the gorge.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy, I haven’t experienced the whole hike, but I gather it gets much less accessible as you continue on.)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

The first falls in the Cascadilla Gorge in May 2009

Where in the World is Cascadilla Falls #1?

Ithaca Falls, New York

The whole time I lived near Ithaca, I had a hunch that there were some waterfalls nearby…I didn’t realize that there were so many in the city itself, many of them very easy to get to. I would have visited Ithaca Falls when I lived there if I had known! I decided to go back this year once I found out what great waterfalls were in the area.

If you’re only in Ithaca for a short time, it can be difficult to decide which waterfalls to visit. This is one that is very easy to visit, so check it out. The most difficult part is getting to the waterfall. Since it’s a college town, it’s crazy to try to navigate around the city. Add to that the extremely varied terrain, and you could get yourself lost without much difficulty. GPS is probably a necessity if you do not live in the area.

One point before the directions…Ithaca Falls is much larger than it appears in photos. It’s a perspective deception.


  1. From NY-79 in Ithaca, head north on Cayuga St.
  2. Turn right onto E. Falls St.
  3. Head to the end of E. Falls St. We couldn’t find the dirt parking lot others have referred to, so we parked for a short period of time next to an apartment complex.
  4. The short trail to the falls starts at the end of Falls St.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 100′
Length of Hike: 0.15 miles round-trip

Ithaca Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Ithaca Falls?

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!


  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?

Lake Treman Falls, New York

Lake Treman Falls in May 2009

I guess I’m not even sure if Lake Treman Falls is a truly natural waterfall. It definitely looks like it is. The historical information provided on the trail seemed to indicate, though, that the waterfall was created when a river/lake was dammed. Maybe I misunderstood the sign.

Oh well, whatever the case with Lake Treman Falls, it’s still a very pretty waterfall. It is found in Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca, though this falls is somewhat removed from the other more prominent falls in the park. In order to access Lake Treman Falls, you can hike from the gorge/rim trails to the falls, or you can just park right near the waterfall, since there is a paved road that leads directly to this one waterfall.

While you’re visiting Lake Treman Falls, check out the area surrounding the falls. In the picture, you may notice a foot bridge crossing right above the falls. This bridge leads to a very interesting stone dam/structure, whatever it is.


  1. There are multiple ways to access this entrance to the park. I think the easiest is to get onto NY-96B (aka Danby Rd.) heading south from Ithaca.
  2. Heading south, you will come to W. King Road. Turn right onto W. King Road.
  3. Head to the sign for the entrance to Upper Buttermilk Falls State Park. Turn into the entrance
  4. Keep heading down this paved road. It will end after a mile or so. Park here.
  5. You should be able to see the falls directly from that parking area. You can head up the very short trail to get different views of the falls if you would like.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Lake Treman Falls?

Cascadilla Falls #2, New York

The second waterfall in the Cascadilla Gorge (May 2009)

I wish I could have seen the whole of Cascadilla Gorge this past May, but there were signs posted saying that parts of the gorge were closed. I saw the first three falls, but didn’t go any further.

This is the second falls in the gorge, assuming that you start at the Linn Street entrance. This falls actually drops for a ways, takes a 90 degree turn and continues on its journey.


  1. When you’re in Ithaca, try to somehow get to Linn Street. A GPS system would probably be very helpful if you don’t know the area. You can try and park on Linn Street, though when I visited, that was virtually impossible. It is much easier to park on one of the streets running perpendicular to Linn. I parked at a parking meter near a church.
  2. Head back to the entrance to the Gorge, which looks like a park.
  3. Start walking up the gorge.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy, I haven’t experienced the whole hike, but I gather it gets much less accessible as you continue on.)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Cascadilla Falls #2?

Old Mill Falls, New York

Old Mill Falls is right near the Old Mill in Robert H. Treman State Park. Check out the Old Mill while you’re there. You can walk in and see the inside of the mill. The Old Mill and the falls are in the Upper Entrance.  It is by no means the largest of the falls in the park, with Lucifer Falls being the main attraction.  Lucifer Falls requires more effort to visit, though, and may even be closed during the winter and spring months.  Old Mill Falls, on the other hand, is very easy to visit since it’s near the Upper Entrance.


  1. Turn onto NY-327 W from NY-13.
  2. Take the road 2.5 miles to the Upper (second) entrance. You’ll have to take a sharp left turn to enter the park.
  3. Drive down to the parking lot. The Old Mill is off in a corner of the parking lot. There is no trail to the falls, as there is no hike required.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip


Old Mill Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Old Mill Falls?