One of the most vibrant and beautiful waterfall spots that you can hike in Ithaca is the Cascadilla Gorge Trail. On our travels there, we parked on Linn Street, and this was very close to the lower entrance of the waterfall. As you walk up to the main lower fall, you will cross a little walking bridge which will lead you to a stair case that enables you to continue your journey up the trail if you are interested.
This particular trail has a little bit of everything for everyone I believe. If you are not interested in doing the complete hike, you do get a nice vantage point of a gorgeous waterfall at the bottom of the trail. If you are a family traveling, and you do not know if you could do a whole hike, I do think that this stop is still worthwhile to see the waterfall by the entrance. If you are feeling more adventurous, I do highly recommend that you hike the 1/3 mile (.5 km) (each way) trail. The waterfalls and nature views are quite spectacular if you hike it in entirety. My husband and his mom did the whole trail, and they absolutely loved it!
The trail itself is a combination of a staircase/stone path, and is pretty easy to hike up. You will want to take note that the trail does get a bit steeper as you progress up the hike. This is also due to the fact that you are walking past waterfalls, and it can get slippery at times due to the mist of the water. When we traveled to Ithaca, it was in early October. At this time of the year, the weather can slightly fluctuate, but is generally just a little cooler then room temperature, and can get a little rainy at times. We packed both longer and shorter style pants/shirts, light jackets, rain coats, hiking boots, walking shoes, hats, sunglasses, and an umbrella. In the usual Northeast fashion, on our travels, we encountered a variety of weather conditions from slightly rainy days, to very sunny ones. On the day we visited this particular trail, it was warm and sunny outside, but it is always a good idea to pack for different conditions outside.
To provide you with a little history on the Cascadilla Gorge Trail, it was actually constructed in the 1920s, and the trail itself cuts through ancient bedrock and has six different waterfalls. Also, the 3,600 acre region is one of the protected natural areas of the Cornell Campus, and is managed by the Cornell Botanic Gardens. The ancient bedrock itself is made out of sandstone and shale, and the Cascadilla Creek has been slowly carving this gorge since the end of the last Glacial Ice Age over 10,000 years ago!
Even though the trail itself is surrounded by the bustling city of Ithaca, you are truly immersed into another world filled with the relaxing sounds of the water rushing through the gorges. You may also find a variety of local plant life such as ferns, liverworts, and mosses that enjoy the damp low lit areas by the waterfalls. In the more sun lit areas you can find perennials such as zigzag goldenrod.
I highly recommend visiting the Cascadilla Gorge Trail, and if you enjoy waterfalls, you will really appreciate the fantastic views that are really local to this specific area and its history. Let me know in the comments if you have visited this region, and what you thought about it as well. I hope that you are having a wonderful day, and remember to click the like and subscribe button!
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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