Enjoy Ithaca’s plethora of beautiful waterfalls and gorges. If you’ve never seen a frozen waterfall, you’re in for a treat!
Many locals consider winter to be one of the most interesting times to view and photograph Ithaca waterfalls. Head down to any of these locations during the winter months if you’re looking for a photo spot, hike, or just an excuse to enjoy the great outdoors!
One reminder: Exercise caution when visiting the various falls during the winter, particularly on stones that may be iced over or slippery. You may find that some of the trails at the state parks are closed during your visit.
1. Taughannock Falls State Park
Your first stop should be the Taughannock Falls Overlook to see the tallest waterfall in the region and marvel at the incredible ice structures. Located just 10 miles outside of Ithaca in the charming town of Trumansburg, Taughannock Falls is one of the most popular attractions in the Finger Lakes year-round. You can park right next to the overlook, and the viewing platform is just a few steps from the parking lot. The overlook is open year-round; however, the stone steps to the lower viewing platforms are closed during the winter due to hazardous conditions.
Want to experience Taughannock Falls up close and personal? Drive down to the main parking lot on Route 89 and walk the Gorge Trail, which is a mile-and-a-half round-trip trail that is wide, flat, and perfect for a winter walk. The Gorge Trail remains open throughout the winter months.
2. Buttermilk Falls State Park
The perfect winter waterfall excursion includes visiting both Robert H. Treman State Park and Buttermilk Falls State Park — and totally doable since they’re only a few minutes down the road from each other! Both parks are located on the southern end of Ithaca off Route 13.
At Buttermilk Falls State Park, the Lower Falls is easily accessible from the parking lot. The wide, cascading falls look picturesque when frozen, especially when the trees are covered in snow. Benches and picnic tables at the base of the falls provide a place to rest and take in all that nature offers. This area of the park is open throughout the winter.
3. Denison Falls
A 21-foot cascading fall in a peaceful wooded gorge, Denison Falls are part of the 160-acre Cayuga Nature Center. For one of the region’s most unusual waterfall views, try the vantage point from TreeTops, a six-story treehouse overlooking Denison Gorge.
Experience Denison Falls by taking Rt. 89 north 5mi to the signed entrance of Cayuga Nature Center on your left. From the Cayuga Nature Center Main Lodge parking area, take the All Peoples Trail direct to TreeTops and Denison Falls.
4. Lower Falls at Robert H. Treman State Park
This popular swimming spot in the summer comes alive during the winter. Bring your camera and take in stunning views of this frozen waterfall just a short stroll along a level path from the parking lot — just don’t go in the water!
The Lower Falls area is open year-round.
5. Lick Brook Falls
For a pleasant winter walk in the woods and spectacular views of a waterfall off the beaten path, head to Lick Brook Falls in the 128-acre Sweedler Nature Preserve, part of the Finger Lakes Land Trust. There are actually three waterfalls in this location and several cascades. A four-mile loop trail is open year-round.