In order to make our multiple-hour drive back to NC more interesting, we took a detour toward Ithaca and Watkins Glen for some more waterfall hiking.
Unfortunately, a few weeks before our visit, a good chunk of the Cascadilla Gorge trail on the south side of Cornell University’s campus was washed out, so that trail was closed. Ithaca Falls (below) and the Fall River trail was open however, and once we figured out where to park for free, we were all set. It was super humid, and then started raining, so the walk was rather uncomfortable and reminded us why we usually stopped hiking in mid-May. There are a few other falls along the gorge but while lovely, it was hard to match the impressive size of Ithaca Falls.
This photo does not properly illustrate how gigantic this falls is in person. Wow.
After a quick stop for some beer tasting, we made our way over to Watkins Glen State Park for the 3 mile roundtrip Gorge Trail hike. All the state parks in the area charge a day use parking fee, but what we didn’t know (and never saw written anywhere) is that if you pay to enter one park, you can visit other parks on the same day for free. Nevertheless, we really only had enough time for one park, so we made the most of the $7 fee here.
I think the website boasts 19 waterfalls, but we classified six that made it into our waterfall database. There are many beautiful rock formations and cascades along the first 2/3s of the Gorge Trail (coming from the main entrance) and we got there around 5:30pm, so the usual summer crowds were absent.
The classic shot of Rainbow Falls (left) and Glen of Pools cascades (right).