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Map of Tompkins County indicating that the leaves have not begun changing for the 2021 season.

Ithaca Fall Foliage Report

It's not fall in Ithaca without a fall foliage report. Find up-to-date info on how much our colors are changing throughout fall and plan your next leaf-peeping visit to the area!

Fall Foliage in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region

Fall colors typically begin to change across the region in mid-September and peak around the second or third week of October. But don’t worry too much about exact timing. The Ithaca area has a long foliage season due to its variable terrain and the moderating influence of 40-mile long Cayuga Lake. If you’re thinking of a weekend visit, be advised it's a busy time of year as many want to take in the rich fall colors and scenic vistas. Check out availability for local accommodations and book your leaf-peeping visit today. Consider visiting midweek for the best accommodation rates and a more relaxed, socially-distanced experience.

For updated foliage conditions statewide, visit the official I LOVE NY Fall Foliage Report.
To learn more about The Science Behind Leaf Color Change, read Understanding Autumn Foliage (Cornell Daily Sun, Sept. 2019)

September 14, 2021: Foliage change is currently less than 5% in the region. The predominant color is green with some hints of red and yellow starting to come in and the state of progression is just changing


Upper Taughannock Falls foliage 2020
View from late September 2020, of Upper Taughannock Falls 


Best Places to see the changing colors: 

  • The Cayuga Waterfront Trail running from Cass Park to Stewart Park is flat, accessible and offers beautiful hillside views with a shoreline perspective of some of the late-season changing trees.

  • From the water aboard the MV Teal with Discover Cayuga Lake! Fall boat cruises are available for learning pods and homeschool groups, as well as socially distanced 1.5 hour fall eco-cruises open to anyone. 

  • Feeling a little more adventurous, take in the beauty from above and get a view like the one above with Southern Tier Balloon Tours.

  • While driving along the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway around Cayuga Lake. Take your time and stop in at any number of wineries, cideries, breweries and farms along the way. 

  • The overlook at Taughannock Falls State Park, or as you hike or stroll among any of the more than 150 waterfalls all within 10 miles of Ithaca.

  • Stroll through the Cornell Botanic Gardens for the latest seasonal blooms and foliage views. 

  • Please check the Cornell University and Ithaca College websites for updated safety guidelines in regards to COVID-19. 


Foliage Progress: see how the colors changed in previous years

View from October 20, 2020 

Buttermilk Falls late fall
October 20 2020 Buttermilk Falls State Park


View from October 14, 2020 

Cayuga Lake view in the fall from balloon
Image provided by Southern Tier Balloon Company.


Get your Free Waterfall Guide

Finding waterfalls in the Ithaca area is easy with a free waterfall field guide. The full-color guide highlights public-access waterfalls, gorges and hiking trails in and around Ithaca and Tompkins County. Sites range from 215-foot tall Taughannock Falls, to the cascading series of drops at Buttermilk Falls, to the 25-foot Potters Falls, a "local secret" in a hidden wildflower preserve. Pick up your copy at one of the Visitor Centers, view it online or get one mailed directly to your door.

Share your favorite fall pictures and use #VisitIthaca
Discover the Trails of Ithaca

Explore the many multi-use trails throughout Ithaca & Tompkins County at and plan your next outdoor recreation adventure. Find info about locations, difficulty, mileage, and more!

Guide to Fall in Ithaca

Discover all things Fall in the Ithaca area!

Request a Brochure
2020 Visit Ithaca Travel Guide
Download our brochure or request a hard copy by mail.
Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau
A division of the Tompkins Chamber
904 East Shore Drive, Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: (607) 272-1313 | Toll Free: (800)-28-ITHACA
The official web site of Ithaca, New York and Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau in the Finger Lakes. Complete guide to Ithaca, NY hotels, attractions, dining, shopping and recreation with maps and driving directions.
I Love NY is a registered trademark and service mark of the New York State Department of Economic Development; used with permission.