Exploring Ithaca's Waterfalls

Ithaca and nearby areas are filled with beautiful waterfalls. In fact, there are over 150 waterfalls in the nearby area. In this article, we've listed a few of our favorite waterfalls that are relatively close to downtown Ithaca. If you'd like more information on waterfalls in our area, give us a call.

Taughannock Falls

  • Location: Taughannock Falls State Park
  • Distance from downtown: 10.1 miles
  • Height: 215 feet
  • Type: Plunge

Taughannock Falls is probably the best known of Ithaca's numerous waterfalls. And, with a drop of 215 feet, it's definitely one of the most spectacular. (It's actually the highest single-drop waterfall east of the Rockies.)
There are a number of ways to access Taughannock Falls. You can simply view it from a lookout near the parking lot at the top of the falls. Or, you can hike to the falls. The North Rim Trail and the South Rim Trail are moderately difficult, but both are relatively short. The Gorge Trail, which follows Taughannock Creek to the base of the falls, is an easy trail that's less than a mile long. Note that the rocks at the base of the falls are slippery. Be careful if you decide to wade through the water.

Ithaca Falls

  • Location: Downtown Ithaca
  • Distance from downtown: 5.0 mile
  • Height: 150 feet
  • Type: Cascade

Ithaca Falls is located on Fall Creek, in the heart of Ithaca. It's easily accessible year-round. You can view Ithaca Falls from Lake Street or take a short hike (150 yards) to the base of the falls. And, at the base of the falls, there's plenty of room for a relax and enjoy the surroundings. Don't underestimate how impressive Ithata Falls is. It's 150-feet high and close to 175-feet wide. When you're near the base, you can literally feel the vibrations from the water plummeting down the rock face. Given just how beautiful this waterfall is, and how easy it is to get to, you definitely don't want to pass up a trip to Ithaca Falls.

Buttermilk Falls

  • Location: Buttermilk Falls State Park
  • Distance from downtown: 2.7 miles
  • Height: 165 feet
  • Type: Cascade

Located in Buttermilk Falls State Park, Buttermilk Falls is one of the Ithaca area's best known waterfalls. Buttermilk Falls is unusual in that it drops a long distance--165 feet--and is also a cascading waterfall. The waterfall creates a pool at its base that's an excellent place to take a dip in the summer. (Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months, and the area is open to the public for swimming.) Viewing Buttermilk Falls is easy: Just pull up in the parking lot, walk a few feet, and you'll see them. In addition, you can get great views of the falls from at least five trails that meander through Buttermilk Falls Park.

The best time to view Buttermilk Falls is after a decent rainfall since the water flow can vary quite a bit, especially in the summer. Note that there are a number of smaller falls above Buttermilk Falls that are also impressive and worth visiting if you have the time.

Lucifer Falls

  • Location: Robert Treman State Park
  • Distance from downtown: 7.9 miles
  • Height: 115 feet
  • Type: Plunge

Located in Robert H. Treman State Park's Enfield Glen, Lucifer Falls is one of the highest falls (115 feet) in the Ithaca area. You can view the falls from the top or hike down to the base. The view from below is preferable. Getting to the base requires a short one-mile loop hike, descending stone steps on Gorge Trail. Along the way, though, you'll see numerous small waterfalls, making the hike well worth the effort. When you reach the bottom of the trail, you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the natural swimming hole created by the falls. 

Ludlowville Falls (Salmon Creek Falls)

Location: Salmon Creek
Distance from downtown: .4 miles
Height: 35 feet
Type: Plunge and Cascade

Ludlowville Falls is a small, but stunningly beautiful, waterfall in Lansing, New York. The falls were formed by Salmon Creek eroding shale underneath a limestone cap at the top of the falls. Tucked away in Ludlowville Park, Ludlowville Falls can be viewed from the top of the falls or from the base. The erosion around the base has formed a cave behind the falls, but it's best not to attempt getting behind the water. Note that Ludlowville Falls is one of Finger Lakes least visited waterfalls, so you might have the fantastic views all to yourself. Note that swimming is not allowed around the falls.

Image may be subject to copyright