Buttermilk Falls


June 29, 2002

State: New York

Location: Buttermilk Falls State Park, 4 miles south west of Ithaca.

Height: 100?

Crest: 40?

Water Source: Buttermilk Creek

Waypoint: 42.41111N 76.51333W

Summary: A pretty waterfall, and a pretty gorge, but pretty crowded. The fall can be seen from the road. The large number of other falls in the area make a trip to Buttermilk worthwhile. This is a nice stop between Taughannock Falls and Watkins Glen.

Buttermilk State Park is on Route 13, south west of Ithaca. It is on the map and is easy to find. The falls are clearly visible from the entrance to the park. There is a swimming area at the base of falls, complete with life gaurds. The gorge trail is 3/4 miles long and very steep in places. The trail gains 500 feet in elevation. Some other minor falls can be seen along the way, as well as swimming holes favored by the locals (the signs say no swimming). The gorge trail was a little frustrating because there was no good way to get nice views of what seemed to be the most interesting parts. In particular, just above the main fall where the creek takes a sharp turn, there seemed to be a lot of interesting stuff going on but no way to really look at it. Maybe there are other trails, or maybe you just have to ignore all the danger signs. I was not at the park long enough to really explore.

Other websites claim that there are 10 major falls along the gorge. They must be using a very generous version of the word 'major'. I walked the entire gorge, and unless all 9 of the 'major' falls are in the one little section I could not see, there is only one major fall in the gorge. Buttermilk Creek drops a total of 500 feet in the park, and you will see listings saying that Buttermilk Falls is 500 feet high. However this 500 feet is spread out over many drops.

[Lake Cayuga & Lake Seneca] Nearby Falls

Ithaca Falls, Cascadilla Gorge, Taughannock Falls, Lucifer Falls and I am sure a dozen other waterfalls are all within 15 miles. Hector Falls,Watkins Glen, She-Qua-Ga Falls, Eagles Nest Falls and probably a hundred others are within an hour's drive.

Photo Gallery


Swimming at the Falls

An Upper Drop

Low Water, September 2003

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Last Modified: Monday, 21-Sep-2009 21:03:22 MDT.

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