Famously, “Ithaca is Gorges.” And it really, really is. Neal and I grew up in and around Ithaca and have spent a lot of time exploring those gorges. Recently, we hiked the Gorge and Rim trails at lower Buttermilk Falls along Buttermilk Creek. Right now, it costs $8 to park in the park’s lot, but you get into all NY state parks for the day, and there are several in the area!
The Gorge-Rim trail loop is about 1.7 miles and takes around 1hr if you’re stopping to take in the view, as you should. If you don’t want to hike, you can take in the beautiful waterfall at the bottom, swim and eat lunch.
We started with the Gorge trail, but you can start at either end of the loop. The Gorge trail goes directly along the gorge.
And as you ascend, you see waterfall after waterfall. It seems endless!
They really just keep going as you go up and up. You are walking all along the gorge on this side of the trail, so you may get wet and the trail may be slippery. At certain points, the walls of the trail have running water pouring down them. There are some great spots to cool off. But if you keep going, you’ll see even MORE waterfalls.
There also are several swimming spots along the way. Now, I don’t know if you’re allowed to swim in the gorge (you can in the lower pool at the start of the trail), but we did as kids and teenagers!
You come to two different bridges along the way as well. One is maybe 3/4 of the way up, and you can take it to the Rim trail. It’s a footbridge over the creek:
The other goes all the way to King Road, where you cross it to connect with the Rim trail on the other side. If you cross the road, you can go to upper Buttermilk, which we love. We unfortunately did not have enough time.
The Rim trail is much less exciting than the Gorge trail. It’s a beautiful woods walk, but you barely see the gorge.
There also are far fewer stairs along the Rim trail. Rather than huge rocks under your feet, there is pavement in some places. It’s still such a beautiful, if too short, walk.
This is just one gem in the town of Ithaca! It was a great way to kill an hour and a half and reconnect with nature. If you like waterfalls, there are also some great trails in Shenandoah National Park, check out our post on it here!
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