Buttermilk Falls is such a magnificent waterfall that you will want to visit when you travel to Ithaca, New York. This particular waterfall is right by the entrance of the park, and pretty easy to access, which means that you do not have to hike far to see it. The address for this location is 112 E. Buttermilk Falls Road which is off of Rt. 13 South.
If you want to do the hike up the stairs on the trail, it is a little more moderate in difficulty, but the surface is pretty flat just walking up to the main waterfall. The hike is 1.6 miles, and it takes a little under an hour to complete. There is a natural pool of water at the bottom of the falls which people are allowed to swim at, but this is seasonally dependent, and for safety reasons it must be done under lifeguard supervision.
I had first heard about Ithaca New York about ten years ago, when a co-worker of mine at the time spoke very fondly of it. She had gone to school up at Ithaca College, and mentioned that the region was breathtakingly beautiful with no other area specifically like it on the East Coast. Her enthusiasm had stuck with me, and I tucked this information away in my mind in case if I ever traveled up north to that location. Over the years, close friends have also recommended a visit to this unique spot. Recently, my husband’s family suggested a trip to this region, I also had to agree with them that there might just be something magical about this area, and it would definitely be fun to check out. It was definitely a great idea!
We live in the Philadelphia area, so the drive took us a little over four hours to get there. After settling in, we decided to make our first stop at the famous Buttermilk Falls. These falls are actually located within the Buttermilk Falls State Park, which spans over 800 acres.
The waterfall was named Buttermilk Falls, because the water has a foaming cascade, which makes it look milky. This is created from the Buttermilk Creek as it flows down the very steep valley to the Cayuga Lake. When you see it in person, to me, it honestly did remind me of a stack of pancakes with milk flowing over it. The size is also very impressive, and Buttermilk Falls itself is 165 feet (or a little over 50 meters.)
In addition to the main one, there are numerous smaller cascades as well that you will see traveling up the hiking path. The park also had restrooms, camping, and even picnic areas. (I am sure that camping times may be affected seasonally and weather permitting, so make sure that you check out their official site for the most current information for this. I will leave a link for it at the bottom of the post.)
I do have to say that I was very impressed how close the waterfall was to the entrance of the park. I had recently sprained my ankle prior to this excursion, and luckily, it was not too far of a walk to see it. The area at the bottom also seems fairly flat, so I would say that it is fairly accessible and not too far of a walk from the parking lot. As a side note, there is a stairway path that goes along the waterfall to an upper region. If you go up the stairs, at the top you will see a really nice overlook region, so that is worth the trek if you can do it. I would also suggest to be careful when you climb the steps as they may get slippery. If you do enjoy hiking, the park as a whole does offer opportunities for this with ample hiking trails through the woodlands, and you can even go up to the lake at the upper park.
I would highly recommend checking out the Buttermilk Falls, and it is a must see if you are visiting Ithaca New York. Let me know in the comments if you have also traveled to this location, and what you thought about it as well. Remember to click that subscribe button, and have a wonderful day!
If you are traveling to the New York area, and are interested in hiking or viewing spectacular waterfalls, a book that I would highly recommend and also own myself is “Hiking Waterfalls New York.” This literature reviews a variety of hikes, from the famous Niagara Falls, to even more less known hikes, but spots that you will not want to miss! At the beginning of the book, I really like that the author categorized the trails from her favorites, best waterfalls for fall foliage, best gorge hikes, roadside waterfalls, best historical falls, and even waterfalls that may draw in more crowds versus less crowded waterfalls. There is also a very nice map that lays out where the locations of them are, and that can be an amazing tool when you are planning your trip. This is great so that you know how far of a distance you can expect to travel from where you are lodging, and you can really make the most out of your time and itinerary. With each hike and waterfall listed there is a full color photo, trail distance, difficulty, and even information about the actual surface that the trail is made out of in addition to so much more!
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