Dan and Hannah Hike to Taughannock Falls near Ithaca, New York

Tau map of falls

Two things before I begin this blog.

First, a pronounciation quiz

Try correctly to pronounce the name of these local falls – Taughannock.

Now give the local Finger Lake a shot – Cayuga.

Check out the bottom of the page for the locals’ pronunciation.

Tau Fitbit

Second, Hannah and I are new Fitbit owners.  These sleek wrist watches primarily calculate how many steps one takes.  Typically, 10,000 steps is the daily goal.  We LOVE ’em.  We never thought of ourselves as Fitbit folks since we get plenty of exercise anyway.  But we do love the affirmation of our exercising life and the reminder to move rather than sit for long periods of time.

As you might have already guessed, my Fitbit reinforces my shallowness and the pathetic measuring of my self-worth by how many steps I get each day AND whether I beat my brother Richard (which I haven’t yet).

Tau map of Ithaca

After a morning of babysitting our ten-month old grandson Brooks, we know that though the forecast is raw with rain, we are going to find a hike and step, step, step to our Fitbit content.  With gorges aplenty here in central New York, we choose the Taughannock Falls, ten miles north of Ithaca, for our chilly willy hike with layers of clothes, gloves, and ski caps this mid-April Thursday.

Tau 2 south rim steps

The initial stone steps to the South Rim

With many of the local falls’ trails still closed this spring day because of ice on the stone walkways, Taughannock is ice- and snow-free.  Soon we are climbing the stone steps to the South Rim trail, hundreds of feet above the gorge below.

Tau 2AA above the gorge

The gorge

Having the trail mostly to ourselves, we, as exercise-first hikers, appreciate that there are no roses to smell or crowds to get in the way of our mission for 10,000 steps!

The south rim offers views into the gorge, but, as yet, we don’t see the waterfalls themselves.  After crossing over a century old bridge above the falls, we descend on the fenced-off north rim trail where waterfall viewing awaits.

Tau 3B D and H at overlook falls

Taughannock Falls, photographed by a Canadian

Arriving at the stone work overlook, we ask two folks to take our picture.  We soon learn that they are among the nicest people in the world (by that I mean, they are Canadians).

Tau 3C D above north rim gorge to lake

From the north rim out to Cayuga Lake

Once completing the rim loop in just over an hour, we have part deux – the popular gorge trail for our hiking pleasure.  Twenty feet wide, bordering the Taughannock Creek, the trail is ¾ of mile of levelness to the base of the falls.

Tau D and H at falls

The Taughannock Falls from the Gorge Trail

At the end of the trail, we ask another couple to take our picture.  In turn, Hannah asks if their family would like one as well.  Mom demurs.  And then this is where Hannah’s persistence and understanding of the human condition shines brightly.  Three minutes later, Hannah sweetly asks one more time.  They agree, I shoot, and they are so damn pleased with the result.

Fact is, “Yes” has been our go-to answer when someone offers us something.  It’s amazing what doors that affirmation opens.

Tau 1B B and H

10 month old Brooks and his Omi

Two hours after we start, we are back at the trailhead ready to hang out with Brooks pleased that our Fitbit step goal has been destroyed.



Taughannock – Ta-GAN-ick.

Cayuga – CUE-ga.

How’d you do?


Additional photos from Taughannock Falls

Tau 2 sign at start of falls

Tau 2A falls above the falls

Tau 4A rapids on gorge river

Tau 4B gorge walls

Looking up to the North Rim Trail

4 thoughts on “Dan and Hannah Hike to Taughannock Falls near Ithaca, New York

  1. Leena and I stopped at Ta GAN Ick Falls a couple of years ago and, as it was a drought, there was just a little, tiny trickle barely visible. So good to see your photos!

  2. Love that park and gorge trail. Central NY has lots of those old Iroquois Nation (now known as Haudenosaunee) tongue-twister names. Canandaigua. Onondaga. Keuka. And just FYI, my county, Steuben, known for its exquisite glass: It’s stoo-BEN, not STOO-bin.

    • Love your central New York Falls. Love us some Watkins Glen, and the Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca with their 12 waterfalls along the stone step trail was closed in mid-April due to ice. Here in Maine it’s been a very rainy spring with today’s 70F a breath of fresh sunshine air.

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