Taughannock Falls State Park: A Colorful & Lively New York Oasis

Just north of Ithaca in the middle of New York state, there's a series of long, narrow lakes that locals have enjoyed visiting for centuries. Known as the Finger Lakes Region, this scenic stretch is full of New York state parks and forests that are perfect for outdoor recreation. Perhaps the most alluring of these destinations is Taughannock Falls State Park.

The park is located where Taughannock Creek meets Cayuga Lake, just south of Trumansburg in Ulysses. Open year-round, Taughannock Falls has hiking trails, boat launches, and many other outdoor conveniences. Whether you're in Tompkins County looking for prime picnic areas or just passing through on your way to Niagara Falls, Taughannock is an excellent choice to add to any itinerary.

Camping at Taughannock Falls State Park

First and foremost, campers will be happy to know that the NY State Parks Service designed the park's campgrounds with accessibility in mind, making overnight visits welcoming for everyone.

The park has quite a few tents and trailer campsites you can reserve online, including nearly 20 sites with electric hookups. Water spigots are located throughout the campgrounds, as well as bathrooms with showers and flush toilets. Those with trailers and RVs even have access to a dump station.

In addition to campgrounds, there's also a smattering of cabins available for rent.

Things to Do at Taughannock Falls State Park

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You can expect to enjoy hiking trails, boating opportunities, and fishing in the warm seasons, not to mention a Summer concert series that draws talent from all over.

When cold weather arrives, Taughannock Falls transforms into a winter wonderland where visitors can partake in sledding, cross-country skiing, and ice skating (only on the park's designated skating ponds, of course).

Finally, bow hunting deer is permitted in the park during its proper season.

Hiking Trails in Taughannock Falls State Park

Hikers can look forward to many short nature trails that are great for getting that daily walk-in. Although difficulties vary, most of the park's trails are about 2 miles or less in length. Below are some brief descriptions of the park's more popular trails.

  • Gorge Trail: Starting near the park office, follow this trail to better look at the base of the falls. It doesn't have any scenic viewing areas because it is surrounded by gorge walls. Still, it does take hikers closer to the lower falls area.
  • South Rim Trail: The South and North Rim Trail trailhead can be found at the parking lot near Jacksonville Road. The South Rim Trail is the best way to reach the Gorge Trail from the park's west side.
  • North Rim Trail: This is probably the most scenic of all the trails the park has to offer. It takes visitors past the best views of the upper falls, as well as the primary Taughannock Falls overlook. Note that there's also a parking area you can drive to if you want the same amazing view without all the walking.
  • Black Diamond Trail: For more ambitious folks, this trail leads all the way to Ithaca's Children's Garden. Using this and a combination of roads, you could even walk all the way down to Buttermilk Falls State Park, just south of Ithaca.

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