Taughannock Falls State Park
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GPS -(Taughannock Falls) N 42.53563 / W
(Lower Falls) N 42.54477 / W 76.60136
(Upper Falls) N 42.53241 / W 76.61579
Directions - The park is on the south end of
Rt. 89 along Cayuga Lake, 3/4 of the way from the Thruway to
Ithaca. There are several entrances to the
park. Heading south from the Thruway, the first entrance,
Park Rd, leads to a
spectacular overlook of Taughannock Falls. Follow the signs
and park in the parking lot adjacent to the overlook. If you
were past this entrance and continue south on Rt. 89 you
will find the main entrance to the park and the gorge trail.
Rt. 89 cuts through the park and has parking on both make
the east and west side. There is a fee for parking in this
area. From the lookout area one can continue on Park Rd.,
driving through the park, and make a left on Falls Rd.
Shortly after there's a (free) parking area on the left and
and entrance to the rim trails.
Number of falls:
3 major falls (Lower, Upper and Taughannock) and
several smaller ledges.
Size/Types: Taughannock Falls is a 215' plunge.
Lower Falls is a 15' step cascade and Upper Falls starts as
the creek joins the falls of a tributary and steeply
cascades 100' turning sharply along the way.
Best time to visit: Spring, summer, fall. Gets
crowded during summer weekends. Spectacular in fall.
Waterway: Taughannock Creek.
Time: The lookout point is a few minutes from the
road. The gorge trail will take an hour. The rim trails can
take the better part of a day.
Park open all year. Gorge trail open all year.
Parking lots for roughly 20 cars at each lot.
Admission: $7 vehicle fee at the lake-side entrance.
Free at other entrances.
Handicap accessibility: yes, the gorge trail and the
falls overlook is very
accessible. The rim trails are not.
Pets: Allowed on leash.
Accommodations: Restrooms, beach, campsites, picnic
tables, showers, changing rooms, playgrounds, cabins,
pavilions, boat launch, trailer sites, drinking fountains,
A spectacular waterfall in a well maintained state park,
Taughannock Falls is one of many waterfalls in the park, yet
it is easily the most popular. Freefalling 215 feet from a
hanging valley, this waterfall roars during spring. In
summer, it dries considerably, offering visitors a less wet
experience walking up the creek bed. The pool at the base of
the falls is deep, excellent for swimming, if it weren't for
the extreme danger of falling rocks. The sheer limestone
cliffs are jagged and worn, with crackling and pops of
falling debris often heard throughout the gorge. in 2005, a
lady was killed, and three were injured by a massive rock
fall near the falls. In 2010, another
significant rock fall
The falls is
easily viewable from multiple locations, but the real
treasure is a hike along the rim trails, offering different
views of Taughannock Falls and the waterfalls of the upper
Visit in Fall for
some spectacular foliage, and the trip is even worth it in
the cold of winter as the falls freezes from its base,
forming an incredible ice sculpture.
Difficulty: Gorge trail: Easy
Rim Trails: Moderate
Map: Maps are available at the trailheads and at the
Markings: Well defined stone and dirt trails, with
informational signs along the way. Trailheads are marked
with park maps.
Trail runs from the main park entrance, past the Lower
Falls, and along the gorge. If the water level is low, and
it usually is, you can walk within the creek bed. The
trail offers many information placards along the way. You'll
also pass a few small ledges and several magnificent cliff
faces and overhangs. The gorge trail ends at the Taughannock
Falls lookout, 300' from the falls. You may see many people
crossing the boundary, and even swimming in the plunge pool,
but be careful, people have been
killed doing this.
The rim trails loop around the gorge and can be joined at every entrance.
For a quick view of the upper falls, use the Park Rd.
entrance and take it to the other side of the park to the
Falls Rd. parking lot. This is where the South and North Rim
trails meet and is just above the Upper Falls. You can view
it from an old railroad bridge. The rim trail offer
excellent views of the upper portion of the park, but
somewhat limited views of Taughannock Falls.
Falls is 33' higher than Niagara Falls and is the highest
freefall in waterfall in the northeastern United States. It
falls with such force, the plunge pool below is more than
30' deep. You're not going to find a larger gorge in the
finger lakes. Erosion from many sources has carved out 400'
and rocks continue to crash down from the dramatic canyon
faces. Over the course of a several years the gorge
walls can change dramatically. The soft underlying shale in
the hardened caprock layers give this gorge a unique and
This gorge offers the greatest examples of joint rock
fractures. Some of them are so straight and cut so
consistently that they seem to be man-made. The joints are
fractures and rock caused by geological pressure. If the
rock layer has consistency, fractures would be distributed
evenly. Water can fill the fractures, freeze in the winter,
expand and either cause the joint to increase in size or
more dramatically cleave off portion of the rock layer.
floor. See the ripple-like pattern in the creek bed?
Some signage in other parks mislead people, telling them
that this is the result of the layer of rock being deposited
by an ancient ocean. while it is possible that that rock
lawyer was deposited by an ancient ocean, the ripple pattern
is in fact the result of modern water erosion. Both acidic
rain and sand and are to blame. Acidic rain puddle the creek
bed dissolving the limestone, creating these ripples. In the
creek's current, particles of sand will swirl around in
these dimples, further carving them out.
dispute as to how this fall's got its name. Some say it is
derived from the Native American word "Takonik," meaning
"great fall in the woods." another legend tells of a battle
between the Cayuga Indians and a Delaware tribe, where the
invading chieftain, Taughannock, was killed and tossed over
▪ Bring a wide angle lens- this falls
going for the silk affect, bring a neutral density filter of
at the least ND8. The water takes so long to fall, you'll
have to use shutter speeds of one second or more to obtain
▪ Get to the park early to get shots without park visitors
▪ The west end of the park will offer many photo
opportunities with less crowds.
▪ See the Articles section
for more waterfall photography tips.
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Taughannock Falls Information
Taughannock Falls State Park
Trumansburg, NY 14886
Phone: (607) 387-6739
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