Enjoy Nature | Trails, Trees, Waterfalls, and A Lake | Buttermilk Falls State Park
Buttermilk Falls State Park is a beautiful state park situated in the Finger Lakes region of New York not far from the southern end of Cayuga Lake. As soon as you arrive at the park it is quite evident what makes this park so impressive. The first thing you see as you walk or drive into the main entrance for the park is the largest waterfall in the park.
The water flows down are large textured rock face. The waterfall cascades down like a slide into a pool at the bottom and then flows out of the park in a narrow stream. While this waterfall is great and impressive and easy to access please don’t stop there. For my money this isn’t even the best part of the park.
Starting at the bottom
From the bottom of the gorge there are two trails you can hike up. But, before you commence your hike of the gorge take a minute to explore what else lies within easy access at the lower part of the park. Not immediately obvious when you enter the park there is a large field that include ball fields and grass lands to enjoy. There are also trails through the nearby woods. All easily accessible if you just walk south through he park from where you arrived and cross a road. These are some beautiful and often overlook areas that require minimal effort to enjoy.
Now for the more effortful part of the journey to explore Buttermilk Falls State Park. To explore the gorge you have two choices. There is the gorge trail and then there is the rim trail. Both are pretty steep at times and require a bit of effort, but anyone who wants to make the journey can do it. They are not particularly long trails. Each trail being under 1 mile long one way. And the Gorge trail isn’t much over .5 miles long one way.
Hiking the gorge
If you like the woods and trees and plant life then the rim trail might be the best way to go. But if you want to be right in the thick of things traveling the gorge itself. Climbing on rock. Getting wet at times. Being as close to the water flow as possible then choose the gorge trail.
I love the gorge trail. I think the farther up the gorge trail you hike the more beautiful it gets. It also levels out more the farther along the trail you go. The trail will be extra beautiful if you hike in the afternoon or evening when the sunlight will mostly be shining from behind you.
It is impressive to see how a simple thing we often take for granted, water, has carved out this impressive gorge. There are too many beautiful features to count. I think you can find just about every type of waterfall imaginable at Buttermilk Falls State Park. All confined to this sort stretch of trail. Large waterfalls flowing and cascading into smaller falls that barrel down the gorge right into another flow. Pressure from water carving spheres and other shapes out of the stone. Stare in wonder as the rock has been worn away to different depths in different areas of the falls. There is even a tall stone spire along the trail as the water rushes by.
Buttermilk Falls is also a great park to visit in every season. There are beautiful flowering trees that bloom in the spring. This includes my favorite flowering tree, the dogwood. Might be my favorite just because it has the word dog in it. But, I enjoy the large silky white flower blossoms. In the summer lush foliage surrounds you. Then in the fall the gorge takes on a new flavor as the tree branches overhang the falls with golden fall colors. And you can watch the leaves spiral around the pools and down the falls to the bottom. In winter the gorge trail is closed, but most of the rest of the park is available for exploration. And nothing feels better than making fresh tracks in the snow.
And don’t stop now there is even more to explore. There is also an upper part of the park that is accessible from the trails or that you can even drive up to and park up there to explore. The upper part of the park actually has more miles of trails to explore than the rest of the park. Fields, and forests, and picnic areas to enjoy. There is also the beauty of Lake Treman to enjoy in the upper regions of the park.
The upper part of the park is an area that I need to devote more time to exploring.
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