Water, in the form of glaciers, covered New York state several times, dramatically transforming the land in its path. When the last glacier receded north over 10,000 years ago, the steep sided troughs that were left were filled with water, creating the 11 Finger Lakes, including Cayuga Lake. We are camped right near Lake Cayuga, and the state park is bordered on it's east side by the lake. Taughannock Creek, which starts to the west of us, pours down Cayuga Lake's glacially-steepened hillside, cutting away its soft sedimentary rock. This on-going process has formed the 3/4 mile, 400 foot deep gorge and the spectacular falls.
Our first task at hand after finding parking, was to find the trail head for the rim hike. We decided we were going to walk completely around the gorge, starting at the South Rim trail, crossing over the creek at the top of the falls, and heading back down the North Rim trail back to the parking lot. It was about a 3 1/2 mile loop hike. I packed the water bottles and dog bowl, and off we went.
Steep trek uphill to start, but remember, we did have to get UP 400 feet to the top of the gorge! I didn't think the stairs would ever end!
View of Taughannock Creek from the top. You couldn't really see the falls from the South Rim, just a peek; but you could hear them!
View up the gorge from the midpoint. Its higher than it looks in the photo, there's nothing in there to give any perspective
As we came back down the North Rim side, there's an overlook with a full view of the Falls. If you aren't able to hike to it, there is a drive-in to this overlook.
Taughannock Creek runs under HWY 89 and empties into Lake Cayuga
By stopping in several spots, taking pictures and taking our time, it took us about 2 hours to do this walk. We don't like to rush :-). I heard a pileated woodpecker calling in the area, and a hawk screeching on the north side, but never saw either one. It was now time for lunch, and as we hadn't any sandwich material left, we drove down HWY 89 to a small roadside cafe we saw, The Creamery. They had sandwiches, burgers, etc for lunch, as well as tons of ice cream! Lunch was great, as was the ice cream, and we'll be stopping back for some home-made ice cream sandwiches for the freezer :-).
Back at the park, we set out on the Gorge Trail, to walk to the foot of the falls for some pictures. Chelsea looked at us like we were crazy as we got ready; I think one hike a day is good for her :-).
Headed down the Gorge Trail. This is an easy, level 1 1/2 mile round trip walk to the base of the falls. No climbing!
The Lower Falls
Close-up of the blocky ledges making up the lower falls. This is all natural, not man-made
Taughannock Creek, below the main Falls area. See how shallow the creek is as it runs over the bed?
In fact, half of the creek bed isn't even covered by water. I found this so interesting, especially after all the rain the area has seen the past month. The storms are one reason why the falls are so impressive right now. Many times, during a dry summer, the falls and creek are nothing but a trickle.
Chelsea and Casey cooling off in the creek
Finally...Taughannock Falls at the base. If you can see the V-shape at the top of the falls, that was formed by a huge rock falling out of the top of the falls several years ago. Erosion at work.
A little perspective...and yes, I'm really here, here's my picture again :-)
One last picture of the falls
View up the gorge wall...that's a long way up!
Heading back out of the Gorge
The park also has a campground (I had checked, we wouldn't fit so we couldn't camp here), beachfront on the lake, a small marina and boat launch area, several picnic and playground areas, and fishing piers. Its a really beautiful park and well worth a day trip to come and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Grocery shopping and laundry awaited our return, so that's it for yesterday. Today we are heading to Watkins Glen State Park for some more adventures. If Chelsea will get off the couch, that is :-). Have a great day!