Enjoy the Gorges

The unusual beauty of Fall Creek Gorge and Cascadilla Gorge make them great places to explore plants and wildlife and to enjoy outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, walking, and birding. The amount of direct sunlight is varied throughout the gorge, which creates a wide range of growing conditions and rich diversity of habitats.

Gorges expose the area’s bedrock, which makes them ideal places to appreciate the geologic history of the Ithaca area.The gorges contribute to overall wellness and are favored places to unwind, find inspiration, reduce stress, contemplate, meditate, and be creative.

Natural History Information

Learn more about Fall Creek Gorge and Cascadilla Gorge.

More information about the ecological communities within Cascadilla Gorge.

Trail Information

View a gorge trail map with safety information (.pdf).

View a list of hiking trail maps in the Cornell Plantations and Plantations-owned areas, including Fall Creek Gorge.

Several locations with good views of the gorges are accessible to the mobility-impaired.

  • For a stunning view of Fall Creek, park on Fall Creek drive on the North side of the Fall Creek Gorge and proceed across the suspension bridge. This grade is flat.
  • Similar views are available on the Thurston Avenue bridge near North Campus and on the Beebe Lake pedestrian bridge.
  • In addition, the lower part of Cascadilla Gorge in downtown Ithaca, called Treman Triangle, has a low grade up to the first falls.

Safe Swimming Options

Swim area in Robert H. Treman State Park

Take a free seasonal shuttle bus from Cornell’s campus to alternative swimming areas. View a shuttle schedule for Fall 2013. Shuttles will be provided on August 24-25, 31, and September 1-2.

Buses will depart from West Campus at the Baker Hall flagpole bus stop near the War Memorial and from North Campus at the bus stop by George Jameson Hall, with return trips from Buttermilk Falls State Park to campus.

Free tickets can be picked up at the Day Hall Visitor Center Desk and in the Service Center on the first floor of the Robert Purcell Center.

On-campus:

Helen Newman and Teagle Hall both have pools which are open during certain times to the whole Cornell community.

Off-campus:

Taughannock Falls State Park - life guarded swimming area on the west side Cayuga Lake.
Buttermilk Falls State Park - life guarded swimming in a natural pool at the bottom of Buttermilk Falls.
Robert H. Treman State Park - life guarded swimming in a natural pool at the base of a waterfall.  NOTE: This area has been closed for the remainder of the fall 2013 season due to flooding.
Myers Park, Lansing, NY - life guarded swimming on the east side of Cayuga Lake.
Cass Park Pool or Alex Haley Pool - large municipal swimming pools in the city of Ithaca.

Gorge Stewards

A gorge stewards program has been established as part of the university’s comprehensive approach to gorge safety. These experienced gorge ambassadors walk the gorges during the summer and other times of warm weather to provide information about trails, safety rules, natural history, activities, and swimming alternatives.

Friends of the Gorges 

Friends of the Gorges is a Cornell University student organization whose mission is to promote the stewardship and responsible, safe use of the campus gorges.

Natural Areas Rangers

The Natural Areas Rangers, commonly referred to as the Gorge Rangers, patrol the natural areas (including gorges) within the City of Ithaca. The Gorge Rangers are part of the Ithaca Police Department.