Taughannock Falls, Four Seasons of Beauty on Cayuga Lake

Did you know that Taughannock Falls - "tuh-GAN-uck" is 33 feet taller than Niagara Falls and it is the highest single-drop waterfall in the north east? According to the Paleontological Research Institution ( Taughannock gorge was formed as the creek cut through 400 feet of shale. The result was a broad delta on the west side of Cayuga Lake where Taughannock Falls State Park now stands. The park was created in 1925 and, like many State Parks in the Finger Lakes area, the Civilian Conservation Corps built much of the infrastructure in the 1930s.

I often travel to Ithaca and always try to make time to stop by to view the falls. Rock falls are not uncommon sending chucks of limestone to the gorge floor so there is a chance the gorge will look different one visit to the next. Also, the water flow over the caprock varies thanks to rain, snow and droughts, and the trees, shrubs and wildflowers around the gorge change color with the seasons.

Park trails offer several ways to enjoy this dazzling waterfall. The 3/4 mile long Gorge Trail to the base of the falls is flat, stroller friendly, and negotiable by people in wheelchairs with assistance. A short drive from the main park entrance up to the falls overlook area and the new Visitors Center gives you a spectacular view of the gorge and the falls. This area is also wheelchair friendly and parking is free. For those who wish to hike around the gorge you can follow the 1 1/2 mile north rim trail and/or the 1 1/8 mile south rim trail.

Of course, be sure to take time to visit the park area where, depending on the season, you will find swimming, hiking, cross-country skiing, sledding, skating ponds, fishing, boating, camping and more!

A few pictures of the falls through the seasons, including two during the drought of 2016.

Trail map:

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Sailor - Hank Osborne
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3369 Guyanoga Road

 Branchport, NY 14418

Tel: 315-595-2200

A Cultural and Natural History Museum