The weekend after Thanksgiving, my wife and I called Fillmore Glen State Park in Moravia, NY, just south of Owasco Lake, the next Finger Lake to the east from Cayuga. We were very pleased to confirm that the Gorge Trail was still open due to the mild weather this fall. Normally, it is closed earlier in November. We had a lovely walk in Fillmore Glen.
Millard Fillmore was the 13th president of the United States and the only president from central New York State. Fillmore Glen is named after him, as he was born in a cabin a few miles from the park. The cabin shown was reconstructed in the state park from another cabin of similar age.
Probably most visitors to the park get this view of the glen, the waterfall and cliffs known as “The Cowsheds.” It is said that before the park was created in the 1920s, local cattle would wander into here in the summer to cool off. Another story says that cattle rustlers hid their stolen stock in here.
The overhanging cliff of the Cowsheds is made of the Tully Limestone. That rock layer also forms the hard cap of the waterfall. The Tully Limestone is very widespread. It forms the bottom of much of Taughannock Gorge and the lip of the first short waterfall there, on the west shore of Cayuga Lake.
Charles Atwood was a local physician and amateur botanist who lobbied hard for the preservation of Fillmore Glen in the 1920s due to its remarkable botanic diversity and richness.
We took a walk into Fillmore Glen, beginning with these beautiful stairs.
Soon the Gorge Trail emerges into a rugged, more open area.
The stream passes between rock walls and over ledges.
A pattern of fractures in the rock called joints is particularly pronounced in the Pinnacle area. Rocks fall away along two sets of fractures that intersect at nearly right angles, resulting in this zigzag pattern in the cliff in the picture below. The sedimentary rock, shale and siltstone, occurs here in alternating layers that are softer and more durable respectively. As the shale layers erode slightly more rapidly, the harder siltstone persists and protrudes, which exaggerates the layered appearance.
The Gorge Trail at Fillmore Glen will close very soon for the winter. Consider making a trip to this lovely, lesser-known natural gem next season!