Cascadilla Gorge

Cascadilla Gorge in Ithaca

It’s impossible to see every waterfall that Ithaca has to offer in a day, but make Cascadilla Gorge a priority! Between Taughannock, Buttermilk, and dozens of others, you could spend every weekend exploring Ithaca’s waterfalls.

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.

walkway through the gorge

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!

Cascadilla Gorge

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 Gorge

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.

stone bridge

The trail is paved with large stone steps, paths, and bridges like many of our New York State parks.

crumbling shale walls

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:

Gorge Safety 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!

in the gorge

More information about Cascadilla Gorge

Cost: Free

Located in Ithaca, 120 minutes / 90 miles from Rochester (get directions)

More information:

26 Incredible Creeks Around Rochester

These beautiful creeks around Rochester impact us in such subtle ways they sometimes disappear into the background of our lives.

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Museum of the Earth

Museum of the Earth focuses primarily on life in New York State beginning in the Cambrian Period, covering roughly 635 million years of geologic record.

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Cornell Botanic Gardens

The 4,000-acres that make up Cornell Botanic Gardens are free to explore and are full of opportunities to learn about plants and environmental conservation.

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Buttermilk Falls State Park

In Buttermilk Falls State Park, like most of the Finger Lakes gorge parks, stairs are the primary walkway along Buttermilk Creek; challenging but worth it!

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What is your favorite spot in Cascadilla Gorge?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!


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COVID-19 NOTE: Some of the information you find in our articles may currently be inaccurate due to closures and cancellations.

Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.