Here is a unique opportunity to see nature’s beauty amid the man-made structures of a modern city. The city has a population over 30,000 named for the Greek island of Ithaca. It is on Cayuga Lake’s southern shore in central New York. From Rochester drive east on I-90 then south on route 96 a 2-hour drive of 92 miles to Ithaca.
During these challenging economic times Ithaca is one of the few growing economies in New York State. They attract workers from many neighboring areas. Ithaca was founded on flat land south of Lake Cayuga with hillsides rising several hundred feet surrounding the town. These steep hillsides have streams flowing that produced canyons. Two of these gorges are within the city of Ithaca.
Fall Creek of Fall Creek Gorge flows through the northern part of the Cornell University campus in the city of Ithaca. The gorge contains a series of waterfalls, along a 1.3-mile trail having numerous stairs. The eight waterfalls are from 6’ to 54’ in height. Steep sections of the trail can be strenuous and it is important to walk with care.
A single walk would not show each of the falls, you must view them from separate spots. The Fall Creek Gorge Falls are larger with greater flow and power, than others in the city. Its beauty and impact are somewhat lessened by its placement near city structures.
Ithaca Falls is a giant waterfall right in the heart of the city of Ithaca. Water flows over layers of rock to a small gorge. The pool formed at the bottom has occasional swimmers seeking refreshment from summer heat. It is also a popular fishing spot. There is a small park nearby for picnicking or just sitting to enjoy its serenity.
Unfortunately property surrounding the falls has been contaminated with high concentrations of lead. This land was owned by the Ithaca Gun Company, a well-known manufacturer of rifles and shotguns. The falls was used as a source of power after the company was established in 1880. It’s uncertain the exact cause but the soil high lead content caused the factory to be condemned in March 2006. Currently the company’s factory is in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.
Here is the second gorge within Ithaca. Cascadilla Gorge with its abundance of plant life seems out of place within the city. Cascadilla Creek’s swift waters formed Cascadilla Gorge. The Cascadilla Gorge Trail is heavily used due to its beauty and convenient downtown location. The gorge lies just two blocks away from the city’s Ithaca Commons.
The trails northern end is west of the College Avenue bridge crossing over Cascadilla Creek. The trail begins at a small park at University Avenue & Linn Street Bridge. The southern end of the trail is at the end of Court Street.
Ithaca is possibly one of the most unique towns in the country with nature’s beauty an integral part of it’s setting. A visit to Ithaca will be a memorable one.