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tompkins county map with leaf update

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.

October 30, 2020: After a notably colorful October, we are now past peak across Tompkins County. Visit Ithaca staff "leaf peepers" report a few trees in select spots still holding leaves -- rust colored oak leaves will stay with us for awhile longer and there are a few more yellows changing. The dark brown of the empty branches and the nearby evergreen trees make the remaining leaves look so much more vibrant.

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)


Buttermilk Falls late fall
October 20 2020 Buttermilk Falls State Park


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. As of Oct.13th, Discover Cayuga Lake cruises are no longer offered for the season.

  • 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.

  • Please note that in response to COVID-19, Cornell University and Ithaca College are discouraging outside visitors at this time. Both campuses have spectacular views, however for the safety of all students, staff, and faculty -- please follow and respects each of the school's guidelines.


Foliage Progress: see how the colors changed in 2019

View from October 19th

Tompkins County observers anticipate near-peak foliage through the week, with 75% leaf transition. Bright yellow leaves dominate the landscape, underscored by orange leaves of average brilliance and pockets of bright red.
Images provided by Southern Tier Balloon Company.

aerial view of fall trees west side of Cayuga Lake

View from October 14th
Cayuga Lake view in the fall from balloon

View from October 7th

We are seeing the color change at around 35-40% across the area with some nice yellows and bright oranges starting to come through with the remaining bright green tones.

ariel view of changing fall leaves above tompkins county from Oct. 7

View from October 1st

Fall foliage across Ithaca from above aboard southern tier balloon company hot air balloon


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.

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.