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Hiking in Tompkins County
New York State Parks
Buttermilk Falls State Park takes its name from the foaming cascade formed by Buttermilk Creek as it flows down the steep valley side toward Cayuga Lake. The upper park has a small lake, hiking trails through woodlands and along the gorge and rim. There are also picnic areas, a swimming area and playing fields. Many people do not know about the "upper park" and thus it gets much less traffic.
The lower park has a campground, swimming areal and playing fields, beyond which is Larch Meadows. Larch Meadows is a moist, shady glen and wetland area through which a nature trail winds. This state park is a must see if you are in the Ithaca, NY area or even in Central New York.
The hiking trails in the park include Gorge Trail, which follows the Buttermilk Creek as it cascades dropping about 500 feet along the trail. Gorge Trail is complimented by Rim Trail on the other side of the creek, which makes for a loop of about 1.7 miles. NOTE: The Lake Treman Trail is CLOSED at the dam, making a loop impossible (November 2010).
Beyond these two trails is the Bear Trail which continues up Buttermilk Creek to Lake Treman Falls and Lake Treman. The trail to and around the lake is another 1.4 miles. At the far end of the lake is a spur of the Finger Lakes Trail. Another trail in the park is the Larch Trail, which circles a marsh near the main (lower) parking area and is about 1 mile in length. The best view of the falls are along the Gorge Trail, although the creek loses much of its flow whenever rain is scarce.
NY 13 south of Ithaca.
Waterfall along the Gorge Trail
More waterfalls along the Gorge Trail
Waterfalls and a few of the many stairs of the Gorge Trail
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