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Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock 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".

The 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.[citation needed

The 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 Park. 

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 trees.

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.

Park Information

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").

Directions

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.

Park Operations

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.

Facilities

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

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.

Contact Information

Call the park office for more information: (607) 387-6739
For camping call: 1-800-456-2267

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