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Gorge Safety

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The Nathaniel Rand ’12 Memorial Gorge Safety Education Program

The two gorges that run through the Cornell campus – Cascadilla and Fall Creek – represent more than 10,000 years of beauty. They help to make Cornell one of the world’s most iconic campuses. While the gorges are wonderful for recreation and hiking, they can be very dangerous.

The Nathaniel Rand ’12 Memorial Gorge Safety Education Program, Cornell University’s gorge safety educational effort, is named in memory of a student who died in a gorge drowning accident in 2011. The program’s goal is to prevent future tragedies by informing visitors about safe and responsible use of the gorges.

The program includes educational initiatives such as the gorge stewards, orientation hikes for new students, educational programming for orientation leaders and residence advisors, a gorge safety video and brochure (pdf). These educational efforts are just one part of a comprehensive safety program that includes providing safe recreational alternatives, enforcement, and maintenance of gorge infrastructure.

Cascadilla Gorge Trail

Located just south of campus and ascending four hundred feet, the Cascadilla Gorge Trail connects downtown Ithaca to College Avenue on campus. The trail follows Cascadilla Creek through the gorge past waterfalls, ancient bedrock of shale and sandstone, and many plants adapted to gorge life.

Fall Creek Gorge Trails

Fall Creek Gorge begins just west of Beebe Lake, north of main campus. Within the gorge, Fall Creek plunges over six waterfalls, the last of which is Ithaca Falls. Ithaca Falls is located in downtown Ithaca and is owned and managed by the City. Visitors to the gorge can safely explore Fall Creek Gorge from the rim trails and four scenic destinations sites.

Practice respect and safety when visiting the gorges

While Cornell encourages our community to visit the natural places that make Ithaca truly ‘gorges’, we ask that visitors practice respect and safety at all times when hiking or using the trails. Please follow all caution and regulation signs, which change throughout the year depending on weather and trail conditions. Swimming is strictly prohibited in Cornell’s gorges at all times.