It’s impossible to see every waterfall that Ithaca has to offer in a day, but make Cascadilla Gorge a priority!
You can start your hike through Cascadilla Gorge at the top next to Cornell University’s Schwartz Center, or at the bottom at Treman Triangle Park. It really just depends on your preference for walking up the steps or down.
NOTE: As of 6/20/21, “Walkers should take note that a section of the Cascadilla Gorge Trail, between the Stewart Avenue bridge and the trail entrance below the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, has sustained some damage and needs repair, and will therefore be closed indefinitely. The lower part of the trail, from Linn Street to the Stewart Avenue bridge, and the upper part of the trail, from the College Avenue bridge and upstream, remain open for use.”news.cornell.edu
The gorge trail
We took a shuttle from our hotel to the top and walked down, though I can certainly see why most folks that day had started at the bottom. The smallest falls and cascades are toward the bottom.
As you are walking up, you are continually facing the next amazing view, and they keep getting better with every step!
Walking down, the falls are visually behind you requiring that you stop and turn around to appreciate them, and they become less impressive with every step.
It’s really a psychological thing, as they are amazing anyway you look at them.
Cascadilla Creek produces eight waterfalls as it descends 400 feet through Cascadilla Gorge. Some are beautiful cascades, while others are upwards of 80 ft. in height.
The trail is paved with large stone steps, paths, and bridges like many of our New York State parks.
Crumbling ancient shale walls
Cornell Botanic Gardens maintains the trail, and they take safety in the gorge very seriously. They have produced a video and brochure to keep you informed of the dangers within the gorge.
There is absolutely no swimming in Cascadilla Creek, and you will understand why watching their video:
View the Gorge Safety Brochure for trail maps and safety information.
The Nathaniel Rand ’12 Memorial Gorge Safety Education Program, Cornell University’s gorge safety educational effort, is named in memory of a student who died in a gorge drowning accident in 2011. The program’s goal is to prevent future tragedies by informing visitors about safe and responsible use of the gorges.
Hike the gorge trail on Google Maps!
More information about Cascadilla Gorge
Located in Ithaca, 120 minutes / 90 miles from Rochester (get directions)
More information: cornellbotanicgardens.org
What is your favorite spot in Cascadilla Gorge?
Please share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments. Your insight and experience are invaluable!