Fillmore Glen in Fall

Millard Fillmore cabin at Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, NY Finger Lakes

This cabin is a replica of the cabin that Millard Fillmore was born in, in 1800.

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.

Memorial to Millard Fillmore, 13 president of the United States, near Moravia, NY, in the Finger Lakes

The memorial to President Millard Fillmore is a few miles up the hill from the park, in the area of his birthplace.

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.

Cowsheds waterfall Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, NY Finger Lakes geology

The Cowsheds is at the mouth of Fillmore Glen and is the most visited feature in the park, just a short walk from the picnic area and pavilion.

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 memorial, Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, NY, Finger Lakes, history

This memorial to Dr. Charles Atwood, the "Father of Fillmore Glen," is at the beginning of the trails to the gorge.

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.

Stone stairway to the Gorge and Rim Trails, Fillmore Glen State Park, Finger Lakes

This stone stairway leads to the beginning of the Gorge Trail and the Rim Trail.

We took a walk into Fillmore Glen, beginning with these beautiful stairs.

Gorge Trail, overlook, Cowsheds waterfall, Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, NY, Cayuga County, Finger Lakes

The Gorge Trail climbs to its first stop at this overlook above the Cowsheds falls.

Dry Creek, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes, Gorge Trail

"Dry Creek" careens around this bend on the Tully Limestone to the lip of the Cowsheds falls.

A mossy tree in the gorge at Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

Fillmore Glen is so humid that moss freely grows on trees, much as in a rainforest.

Fillmore Glen State Park, Gorge Trail, Cayuga County, New York, NY, Finger Lakes

Fillmore Glen has a wild, lush feeling. Visitors are fewer here than at some of the better-known parks in the area, and the twists and turns of the trail give one a sense of solitude.

Gorge Trail, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

The mild days this fall allowed the park to keep the Gorge Trail open later in the season than usual.

Foot bridges, Gorge Trail, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

A number of bridges shift the Gorge Trail from one side of the glen to the other.

Gorge Trail, waterfall, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes, Dalibarda Falls

Dalibarda Falls splashes down the north bank of the glen into Dry Creek. It's name probably comes from a not very common forest plant, Dalibarda repens, commonly called robin runaway, false-violet, or dewdrop. Perhaps Charles Atwood named this lovely waterfall.

Soon the Gorge Trail emerges into a rugged, more open area.

The Pinnacle, Gorge Trail, waterfall, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

This high cliff gives this part of the glen its name, "The Pinnacle."

The stream passes between rock walls and over ledges.

Gorge Trail, the Pinnacle, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

The creek passes between wet, rocky walls.

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 Pinnacle, Gorge Trail, waterfall, Fillmore Glen State Park, Cayuga County, NY, Finger Lakes

Rectangular joint fractures in the layered siltstone have resulted in this unusual pattern in the cliff along the trail in the Pinnacle area.

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!