Buttermilk Falls State Park
N.Y.S. Route 13, Ithaca, NY, USA
nyfalls.com/buttermilk.html - 607-273-5761 (Summer) / 607-273-3440 (Winter)
Buttermilk Falls State Park Ithaca Reviews
Buttermilk Falls State Park Jul 01, 2011
Buttermilk Falls is a terrific state park situated just beyond the city limits of Ithaca, NY. A cascading series of waterfalls practically greet you at the park entrance and immediately sucks you in to explore. I paid no admittance fees, but there was an unmanned booth indicating the likelihood they will hit you up, and rolled into a relatively shaded parking area immediately after hanging a left off of route 13.
There is a swimming area situated where Buttermilk Creek bottoms out at the park entrance. The swimming hole is posted “No Admittance” unless lifeguards are present and to be honest, the water didn’t look inviting…let’s just say the words “crystal clear” didn't come to mind. I’m not sure how much traffic the swimming hole draws, but it remained unoccupied when I returned from my hike about 10:30AM (and it was already becoming a hot day, ideal for a plunge).
After a few pictures I struck out for the Gorge Trail, crossing a signposted bridge. What wasn’t signposted is the left you need to hang just after the bridge, though the road you’re on dead ends quickly after passing a house so there was only a minor delay before getting back on track. A splendid introduction to the Finger Lakes! The Gorge Trail is reasonably steep but not too long (about 3/4ths mile) and paved with rock slab steps most of the way. The path winds uphill along the creek so you are afforded continuous views of beautiful waterfalls, the sights and sounds charming every step of the way.
The trail map indicates there is a bridge crossing over the creek so you can flip back downhill on the Rim Trail, but when I came upon a wooden bridge I pressed on as it seemed premature. That proved a good guess, because the bridge on the trail map spans a regular paved road about a quarter mile further along. Returning via the Rim Trail was a walk in the woods, offering few glimpses into the gorge, though it was fun to peer down on the Gorge Trail from above (you’d never suspect another trail was just across the stream). Heading downhill with an absence of stunning views permitted a rapid return to the parking lot and concluded a pleasant visit.
To wrap up with some general footnotes if you are considering dropping by, Buttermilk Falls State Park offers campsites (46) and cabins (7) for overnights. So long as they are leashed, pets are welcome in the campgrounds and along the trails. Besides the entrance off route 13, you can also get in at West King Road (the road where I crossed over on the bridge), which is the gateway to the upper end of the park that I didn’t explore --- let me know what you find there!
Part of the Falling for the Finger Lakes travel blog
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