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Multi-park planning

Newark, Delaware
Level Contributor
568 posts
70 reviews
Multi-park planning


Last summer I was in Ithaca for my work and I did the whole Watkins glen gorge trail and back on the Indian Trail; the Treman gorge trail and back on the rim trail; and the Buttermilk gorge trail and back on the rim trail. I did all of them after noon so I hiked pretty fast. I will be taking my family with me this summer and have a day to see a few parks and am trying to nail down a game plan so I appreciate any comments. They are all experienced hikers and have done far more difficult hikes like 2,000 ft elevation gains and 8+miles so that is not the issue. But I am trying to pick and choose which hikes to do and which to just do the quick view points. I have not been to Taughannock before and thought I might squeeze that in too and maybe a quick stop at Ithaca falls the night before.

We will be staying in Ithaca the night before and Syracuse the night after. So a possible plan would be to go to Buttermilk and just get a quick look. I know the falls are not too impressive and I actually liked the Gorge trail, but picking and choosing I thought we would maybe just walk up the first set of stairs and get a look in the gorge.

Then go to Treman and instead of doing the whole loop, just go to the upper parking lot, do a quick hike to Lucifer Falls and then go swimming at the bottom. With the exception of the view point above Lucifer Falls, I think we wouldn't miss the Rim trail, and the gorge trail below Lucifer was nice but not crucial to see.

Head over to Taughannock falls and do the Gorge trail and maybe stop at the top parking lot to see the viewpoint. Is this trail worth it or should we just do the view point and maybe hike more at Treman or Buttermilk.

Then head to Watkins Glen and see how we're feeling when we get to the top of the gorge. I don't remember being too impressed with the Indian trail so we'll probably just head back on the gorge trail.

I appreciate any comments, my wife can't really help me spitball ideas because she has not been to any of them.

Fort Collins...
Level Contributor
413 posts
787 reviews
1. Re: Multi-park planning

Only you know your family's pace, stamina, likes, dislikes, etc. so I will resist micro-planning for you. But I will say that when there has been reasonable rainfall, Taughannock Falls is a far more impressive true "falls" than any of the others - one of the highest on the East Coast. The Gorge Trail is a simple stroll along the flat that gets you to the base of the falls. In my book an Overlook is nice, but standing at the base of a very tall falls is really where it is at.

Note that all of these parks are very popular and can get crowded in prime season. Don't know if you like that sort of thing or not. If you want to see something other than falls and get away from the crowds, consider either the nearby Finger Lakes Trail or trails in the Finger Lakes National Forest for some real "hiking". But that would probably entail more then the one busy day you have planned.

Vestal, New York
Destination Expert
for Auburn, Finger Lakes
Level Contributor
11,415 posts
208 reviews
2. Re: Multi-park planning

I think you should be the whole trail at Treman; it is the best of all of them for its diversity of beauty and will only take you a couple of hours. Logistically, if you want to do Watkins Glen, here's what I recommend:

Start at Taughannock Falls SP (no hiking) - stop at the overlook then take a left out of the parking lot and continue a short distance to the end of the road then take a left, park at the park area immediately on your left and walk out the the overlooks there (one is from the bridge that you will see on your left, the other is straight ahead a short distance). After this, take a right and stay on the same road until you hit NY 96. When you hit NY 96, take a left then a quick right on Halseyville Rd.; after you cross NY 79 the road becomes NY 327 - this will take you to Robert Treman (you will hit the upper entrance first; the lower entrance is 3 miles further) . Do the hike there then either proceed to the end of NY 327 (where you will be if you enter the park at the lower entrance) and take a left and go about 1 mile to Buttermilk and/or go back to NY 79 and take a left (west) to Watkins Glen (about 18 miles). After Watkins Glen, head up NY 14 (north) to Geneva and pick up I-90m to Syracuse. If you weren't particularly impressed w/Buttermilk, you should skip it and go directly to Watkins Glen from Robert Treman.

Hope this helps.

3. Re: Multi-park planning

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