I’m not the kind of person who likes surprises, but when the surprise involves hiking and exploring, I’m totally on board! For this trip, I had no idea that I would end up here. It was my anniversary weekend and my husband and I each got to plan one of the days. I naturally had planned a hike for my day, but when my husband did not turn down the road we needed to go to get there, I began to wonder what was in store for the day. It turns out, he planned a completely different hike for us, and this one turned out even better than I was expecting! Of course, that meant the next day I had to plan a day of activities that didn’t involve hiking, and I found that difficult to do, but I managed. Here’s our story about our trip to Taughannock Falls.
About The Location
Taughannock Falls State Park is part of the New York State Park System and is located in Trumansburg, New York, near Ithaca, New York. The falls is part of Taughannock Creek which empties into Cayuga Lake, one of the famed “Finger Lakes” carved out by glaciers in Western and Central New York. The geological history of this area is rich and worth taking a look at if you’re interested in that sort of thing. The trail was full of signs and information boards about how the area came to look the way it does.
There are a lot of different parking areas for this state park since there are a variety of activities to partake in and many different viewing areas. Be aware that during the off-season, some parking lots may not be open. During the popular summer season, parking lots charge an entrance fee to use the park. For the hike referenced in this post, we used the small parking lot on the west side of Route 89, directly next to the start of the Gorge Trail. Get directions for that parking lot here. Since it was off-season, and on a Friday, we had no problem finding parking at this lot at mid-day.
About The Trail
There are two different main trails in Taughannock Falls State Park that are popular trails and provide waterfall views; The Gorge Trail, and The Rim Trail.
The Gorge Trail is an approximately 2 mile hike out and back which has an entire elevation gain of about 183 feet. This is probably the easiest trail in the park and arguably the most fun. We did this trail first. My favorite thing about it was that in some parts you could actually walk the creek bed instead of the trail. The creek bed was made of flat rock and since the water wasn’t too high, it was also very dry and delightful to walk on.
At the end of the Gorge Trail there was a high bridge that crossed Taughannock Creek that provided unobstructed views of the falls from a unique angle. It made for a great photo spot!
Then you continue along just a little further to an observation deck closer to the falls for a close up view of the falls where you can feel the wind and the mist swirling all around you.
The Rim Trail is actually split into the North Rim Trail and the South Rim Trail, but together they serve as a loop trail so we did the entire thing. Together the two trails add up to about 3 miles round trip with about 500 feet of elevation gain. This trail is tougher than the Gorge Trail due to the steeper terrain. However, as is typical in state parks there were some nice stairs built into many of the steeper spots for easier navigation and safety.
The Rim Trail offers many different viewpoints of the gorge below, Cayuga Lake beyond, the main falls attraction, and even a second set of falls tucked away deeper in the gorge. I didn’t even know that second set of falls was there until we saw it, so it was a nice surprise!
State Parks are some of my favorite places to hike and I find that they are often very underrated places to explore. I thought Taughannock Falls State Park was a top notch adventure. Have you ever been here? Are you a state park fan? Let me know about one of your state park adventures in the comments!