Taughannock Falls State Park is located in the Finger Lakes region, near the south western edge of Cayuga Lake. It is in the town of Ulyses (New York), 10 miles north west of Ithaca and 25 miles north east of Watkins Glen State Park. The name “Taughannock” comes from the Delaware Indians, referring either to chief Taughannock or the word taghkanic, meaning “great fall in the woods.
The main cataract the falls has a huge drop of 215 feet (66) meters and is one of the highest east of Rocky Mountains. It is even higher than the Niagara Falls ( the American Side) by 33 feet. Although it is taller than Niagara, the volume of falls is significantly lower than Niagara Falls and it is not fair to compare with the behemoth of falls.
The Taughannock creek pierces through the majestic rocks (as high as 400 feet) and falls 225 feet below providing visitors a spectacular view. This is the main attraction of the Taughannock Falls State Park and is best viewed by taking the .75 mile Gorge Trail which takes visitors to the base of the fall.
There are three main trails, the north rim trail, the south rim trail and the gorge trail. Both the south and north rim trails are around 1.5 miles long and the Upper falls are accessible through these trails. The north rim trail has the Falls overlook which gives a spectacular view of the falls.
Since we had a 4 year old we had to pick the Gorge trail which is the most convenient trail and took us right to the bottom of the falls. A few minutes into the gorge trail we came across the lower falls but did not spend much time there and went straight ahead to the main attraction, the Taughannock Cataract.
Near the base of the falls is the black colored Geneseo Shale which is around 90 feet thick. Above this is the tan colored sherburne siltstone. The ‘caprock’ over which the falls descend are the sandstone of sherburne formation. The rocks above these on the side of the falls and along the rim are the Ithaca formation.
The lower falls can be accessed a few minutes into the gorge trail. The Tuaghannock Falls State Park has three major falls, the upper falls ( accessible from the north and south rim), the middle or main falls ( Taughannock Falls) and the lower falls. The Tuaghannock creek eventually flows into the Cayuga Lake ( one of the finger lakes). The lower falls has much wider crest (70 feet) and cascades down to just 20 feet.
We spent more time in this area on our way back from the Main falls. This has beautiful cascades and ideal for waterfall photography. I had the luck of getting two good shots of the cascades.
The park is accessible from the east via route 89 from the Cayuga lake side and also from the route 96 on the west.
The Park is open all year Mon-Fri, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. It is open on nights and weekends during summer and camping is open from March to mid October. The Rim trail is closed in winter.
There is opportunity for many recreational activities like beach swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, hiking and picknicking. The park size is 783 acres and has 76 campsites and 10 cabins.
NY State parks official web site has a very informative map.
- Watkins Glen State Park
- Buttermilk Falls State Park
- Ithaca Falls
- Cascadilla Gorge
- Robert H. Treman State Park
- Many wineries are also closeby
- http://nyfalls.com/taughannock.html (this site has beautiful photographs and useful information)
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