Taughannock Falls State Park in Ulysses, NY

Taughannock Falls State Park in Ulysses, NY

If I asked you to choose the highest single-drop waterfall east of the Mississippi River, which one would you choose? Probably not Taughannock Falls in #NewYork. But the truth is, these falls are massive and the surrounding State Park is one of New York's great #nature areas. And since the park is so #affordable, it shouldn't be left off your must-do list.


After we spent the previous afternoon hiking the Watkins Glen Gorge, I didn’t think anything could nearly compare to its majestic beauty. However, I was in complete awe of the massive waterfall at Taughannock Falls State Park. Taughannock Falls is located just outside of Ithaca in the village of Ulysses, New York in the Finger Lakes region.

from  $7

Taughannock Falls State Park Tour

Affordable
 

As we walked towards the Gorge Trail path, we really didn’t know what to expect. In researching this trip, I asked some folks over at the Tripadvisor forums which state parks around Ithaca would be the best to visit. People from the area overwhelming told us to visit Taughannock, so we definitely worked it into our plans.

Lower Falls
Lower Falls

As we approached the Gorge Trail, we noticed a small waterfall flowing over a few rocky ledges down to a shallow pond below. The main waterfall gradually flowed down to this tiny waterfall dubbed the “Lower Falls”. From there, the water slowly flows back into Cayuga Lake (one of the Finger Lakes).

The Lower Falls
The Lower Falls
Hiking to the Lower Falls was an easy trek
Hiking to the Lower Falls was an easy trek

Our hike along the Gorge Trail was only 3/4 mile in length until we reached Taughannock Falls. It was a very easy hike as the terrain was quite flat. Many people were walking along here with their families and their pet dogs as it was a beautiful day outside. It also happened to be my birthday that day – it’s usually safe to plan an outdoor activity on this day, as it’s only ever rained once on my birthday!

Hiking on the trails, using the trees for shade
Hiking on the trails, using the trees for shade
Birthday girl!
Birthday girl!

We walked along the shaded trail path, while many other people decided to walk on a flat, rocky ledge beside the water. It was extremely shallow in this spot as the water slowly flowed towards the Lower Falls.

This flat rock next to the water was a great place to walk since it was pretty shallow
This flat rock next to the water was a great place to walk since it was pretty shallow

As we walked closer and closer towards the Falls, we could see imposing rocky cliffs across the shallow river. It was difficult to capture just how high these cliffs were! The water grew deeper as we approached Taughannock Falls.

We continued on and these steep rocks came into view
We continued on and these steep rocks came into view
I loved these trees that formed a canopy over us
I loved these trees that formed a canopy over us
We made it to Taughannock Falls!
We made it to Taughannock Falls!

Taughannock Falls plunges 215 feet down to the river below. To give you a little perspective, Niagara Falls features a 167-foot vertical drop, making Taughannock quite a bit taller than Niagara! The cliffs themselves stretch about 400 feet above the gorge. We hopped over a short barrier to join the people that had gathered at the base of the waterfall. It was quite misty and very refreshing on a warm day!

A longer drop than Niagara!
A longer drop than Niagara!
It's easier to tell in this photo just how large the falls are
It's easier to tell in this photo just how large the falls are

Some quick facts about visiting Taughannock Falls:

There are a few other trails in this area: the North Rim Trail, the South Rim Trail, and some Multi-Use trails. Make sure you grab a park map from the visitor’s booth to see your options.

There is a secondary parking lot at the top of the Falls that we did not have time to visit. You can see the view from the top of the waterfall down below. I suspect that our view was better than that one.

If you visit during the summer months, you can swim in Cayuga Lake, which is a quick walk across Route 89 towards the lake, Marina, and picnic areas.

You can camp at the Taughannock State Park if you’d like!

The hike can easily be completed within an hour. If you’re short on time, yet want to see a beautiful waterfall amongst gorgeous nature, be sure to check it out!

Here’s a video we made at Taughannock Falls!

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