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Exploring Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca, NY
If you happen to be somewhere around #Ithaka in the #UnitedStates you should definitely go and visit the Robert H. Treman State Park. The park offers not only breathtaking nature but also interesting history.It is a great and #affordable way to experience the beautiful nature of this region and to have an amazing relaxing day.
From Taughannock Falls, we took a quick jaunt over to another State Park in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, Robert H. Treman State Park. It is located just on the outskirts of Ithaca, about a 10 minute drive from Taughannock making it very easy to see both of these parks in one day.
Robert H. Treman State Park Tour
I would definitely recommend seeing both of these parks as they are both unique and lovely in their own way.
A History of Robert H. Treman State Park
Before the arrival of European settlers to what is now known as New York State, the Cayuga Tribe of Native Americans lived in the area, one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). During the Revolutionary War, the Cayugas (allies of the British) were partially driven from the area by the Continental Army. Settlers from Europe started to move into the area in the 1790s and began to farm. In 1839, a water-powered gristmill was built in the park, which was used for grinding corn and wheat until 1917. This “Old Mill” has been fully restored and visitors are able to check it out. In 1920, Robert and Laura Treman donated 387 acres of land to the State, and Robert Treman became the first chair of the newly formed Finger Lakes State Parks Commission. Upon his death in 1938, this park was renamed in his memory.
The Landscape of Robert H. Treman State Park
The park’s area has increased since Robert Treman originally donated the land; it is now 1074 acres in size. Water has shaped the natural landscape of the park – over the past million years, glaciers covered New York State several times, drastically transforming the terrain. The most recent glacier moved through the Finger Lakes region, carving out deep troughs in its path. Water filled these steep troughs creating the 11 Finger Lakes, including Cayuga Lake in this area. Throughout Robert H. Treman State Park, Enfield Creek has continually flowed down the glacially-steepened hillside, cutting away parts of the soft sedimentary rock to create the park’s gorge and waterfalls.
When we arrived at Robert H. Treman State Park, we drove and parked our car at the Lower Park Entrance. After talking to a staff member at the information booth, we discovered that there are many hiking trails that would take us to Lucifer Falls. However, since we did lots of hiking the day before at the Watkins Glen State Park, and had just visited Taughannock Falls, we thought it might be a good idea to take the shorter walk towards the Falls from the Upper Park Entrance. If you choose to hike from the Lower Park Entrance, you can take the Gorge Trail or the Rim Trail, which both run about 2.25 miles in length.
We took a short drive along NYS Route 327 to the Upper Park Entrance where we were also able to park our car. Part of the trails were under construction at this time, so if you’re visiting, be sure to follow the Rim Trail from up top instead of the Gorge Trail. If you follow the Gorge Trail, you will reach a point where you won’t be able to walk any farther, and you’ll have to turn around and go back to the Rim Trail to continue your journey.
After a short hike on a hilly trail, we reached an overlook point for Lucifer Falls. It was a lovely view of the waterfall from up top. Lucifer Falls is 115 feet tall, dropping over several rocky ledges of the gorge. The cliffs of the gorge itself surround the waterfall from all sides.
We continued along our hike and soon reached a staircase, taking us down below to Enfield Creek. There were many, many stairs – it was a great workout!
Going down the stairs was a bit of work (not as much as walking back up them!), but we were surrounded by so much green – there were trees, ferns, and plants growing everywhere!
There were several spots on the staircase where people had stopped for a rest, or just to stop and enjoy the view! Some fellow hikers were kind enough to point out a snake to us at one point hidden in the plants. I’m sure there were plenty of other animals living in the forest that were staying clear of the human visitors.
When we reached the bottom, we immediately knew that the descending climb down those stairs had been worthwhile. We were rewarded with a spectacular view of Lucifer Falls. At the bottom, we found a natural swimming pool below the waterfall, but at this time of the year it was a little too chilly to go for a dip.
To get a closer view of the Falls, we decided to follow in the footsteps of a few other brave individuals and cross the river. We took off our socks, shoes, secured the camera, and hoped that neither of us slipped on some rocks. We waded through the creek from the hiking trail to the other side, where we could perch on some rocky ledges closer to the waterfall.
The water came up to my thighs at some points – it was a good thing I was wearing shorts that day! Justin is much taller than me, so the water only came up to his knees. We both made it across without falling in, and felt rather adventurous for doing so!
It was absolutely gorgeous down below Lucifer Falls, so please make sure you do the hike (either from the Lower Park Entrance or the Upper Park Entrance) and check out the waterfall from the overlook and from the river’s edge. If you’re here in the summer, you can wear your bathing suit and go for a swim in the natural pool!
Tips for Visiting Robert H. Treman State Park:
We parked here for free as we had visited another State Park during the same day. Take advantage of this and visit Taughannock Falls in the same day, or neighboring Buttermilk Falls (we didn’t get the chance to visit here…maybe next time!)
There are campgrounds here as well as cabins if you’re looking to stay the night. Visit the State Park website for more details.
Park at the Lower Entrance if you’re interested in going for a lengthier hike; park at the Upper Entrance if you’d like a shorter hike, but don’t mind going down some stairs to see the waterfall from down below.
Make sure you stop at the Information Booth located within the park’s Lower Entrance for a map and any guidance from a park ranger that you might need.
The Gorge Trail is closed during the winter season; all other trails are normally open all year long. Please check the park’s official website as trails can close during varying weather conditions at any point during the year.