Taughannock Falls State Park
Falls State Park is located in the Town of Ulysses in Tompkins
County, New York. The park is northwest of Ithaca, New York near
Trumansburg, New York.
The name "Taughannock" comes from
the Delaware Indians, referring either to chief Taughannock or the
word taghkanic, meaning "great fall in the woods".
main cataract of the falls is an astounding 215 ft drop, making it
33 ft taller than Niagara Falls and the largest single drop
waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.
water then flows through a long gorge with cliffs up to 400 ft high,
characteristic of the area's gorges that give rise to the common
"Ithaca is Gorges" bumper stickers and t-shirts. The
waterfall and gorge is an example of a hanging valley that developed
in a very similar fashion to the one at nearby Watkins Glen State
None of the local gorges were "carved by glaciers."
In fact all of the gorges are post-glacial valleys carved by the
streams that are still in them. It is the valleys over which the
waterfalls hang that were eroded (over-deepened) by the advance of
the Pleistocene ice sheets.
Visitors can reach an excellent view of the waterfall by walking
along a 3/4 mile long trail. Visit in autumn is particularly
interesting because of the picturesque colors of the surrounding
The Park offers hiking and nature trails, camping, picnicking,
swimming, fishing, and a boat launch, as well as ice-skating,
sledding, cross-country skiing in the winter.
The falls are formed by a rock bed creek entering the lake and
surrounded by a glen with walls climbing to 400 feet (120 meters).
The cataract has a drop of 215 feet (66 meters), one of the highest
east of the Rocky Mountains slightly higher even (25 ft., 8 m) than
Niagara (American side), but they cannot be compared because it has
much smaller volume.
Taughannock is interesting year round - the
falls and gorge create a natural amphitheater with dense spray
rising from the bottom often shrouding the lower part of the
cataract in mist. The name "Taughannock" originates either
from that of the Delaware Indian chief Taughannock or as the
Delaware word taghkanic ("great fall in the woods").
The park is located about 8 miles North from Ithaca or 4 miles
South from Trumansburg along Route 89. From the New York State
Thruway, take Exit 41 to 318 East for 4 miles. Head South on Route
89 for 35 miles.
The park is also accessible from Route 96 in the center of
Jacksonville. From Jacksonville Road (across from the Exxon Gas
Station) head South about 3 miles and take a right onto Park Road
just after Gorge Road.
The Park is open all year Mon-Fri, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM; nights and
weekends during summer with camping from March to mid October. The
Rim trail closes in winter.
The hiking trails offer spectacular views and unique geological
formations including 215' Taughannock Falls, which is 33 feet taller
than Niagara and is the highest vertical single drop waterfall in
the Northeastern U.S.
It can be seen from two lookout points: one
from below at the end of the 3/4 mile Gorge Trail, the other from
above at the falls Overlook on Taughannock Park Rd.
The Park size is
783 Acres with 76 Campsites (16 electric, 60 with no utilities), and
10 cabins. Also available is boat launching, tie-up docks, (seasonal
berths), beach swimming on Cayuga Lake, and bathhouse.
- Swimming is available only in designated life guarded area
- Bikes are not permitted on the hiking trails but there is a
bike path just outside the park
- Picnic areas have tables and fireplaces
- Pay telephone is available
- Hot Showers and flush toilets are available
- There is a concession stand
- Picnic shelters are on the premises
- Permitted activities are posted in park office
- The park offers summer music concerts
- There is Fishing in the creek and the lake
- Boat rentals are available
Special Passes to Taughannock and other New York State parks are
available to New York residents. The Empire Passport provides
unlimited vehicle access to nearly 200 state parks in NYS for an
annual fee (currently $39).
Empire passports are available at any
state park, regional DEC office or by writing: Passport, State Parks
and Recreation, Albany, NY 12238. Parks are free to people who are
62 years and older during weekdays, Monday through Friday.
Call the park office for more information: (607) 387-6739
For camping call: 1-800-456-2267
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