Gorges TV! Trees Hang On

hemlock tree Buttermilk Falls State Park gorge Ithaca, NY Finger Lakes

A hemlock tree grows atop a ledge in Buttermilk Falls State Park.

Hi, folks

I have started a new short video series as part of my YouTube channel, “Walk in the Park.” It’s called, “Gorges TV.” My first episode is called, “Trees Hang On,” and I explain how trees adapt to living on the side of gorge. It’s five minutes long and has lots of pictures of amazing trees in Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca, NY. Here it is…

Check out my other videos on my YouTube channel.


Strolling the Cayuga Trail

 The Cayuga Trail is one of the shorter paths maintained by the Cayuga Trails Club. It begins at the Stewart Avenue Bridge over Fall Creek Gorge just above Ithaca Falls and continues along Fall Creek through the Cornell campus and Cornell Plantations all the way to Varna. 

Cayuga Trail Cornell Ithaca NY hiking

The Cayuga Trail follows the rim of the Fall Creek gorge through the Cornell Campus and beyond. Can you see the orange trail marker on the large oak tree?


Cayuga Trail Fall Creek Cornell Plantations Ithaca NY

The Cayuga Trail above the Fall Creek Gorge on the Cornell campus


Sunlight on late fall colors above Fall Creek Gorge

Late afternoon sunlight illuminates late fall foliage along the Cayuga Trail above Fall Creek Gorge.

 Above Triphammer Falls and Dam is little Beebe Lake.

Beebe Lake on the Cornell campus, Ithaca, NY

Beebe Lake.

 Beebe Lake closes in to become a small gorge on its eastern end.


Waterfall Beebe Lake Cornell Plantations Ithaca NY

The first little waterfall just upstream from Beebe Lake

 Back farther downstream, the Suspension Bridge crosses Fall Creek Gorge, joining the Cornell Arts Quad with the neighborhood on the north side of the chasm. Sorrowfully, in recent years there were several suicides by despairing students who jumped from bridges over gorges on the Cornell campus. Amid much controversy, Cornell administrators decided to put up high fences on the sides of all the bridges over the gorges and along cliffs by the trail.

Suspension bridge over Fall Creek Gorge Cornell Campus Ithaca NY

The Suspension Bridge over Fall Creek Gorge joins the Arts Quad with the Thurston Avenue neighborhood on the north side.

 The fences may have prevented additional distressed students from impulsively “gorging out,” as it used to be called. But they also have put a frustrating aesthetic barrier between pedestrians, motorists and the spectacular beauty the gorges present.


Fence on Suspension Bridge over Fall Creek Gorge, Ithaca Falls, Cayuga Lake, Cornell, Ithaca

The fence on the Stewart Avenue bridge over Fall Creek Gorge. Cayuga Lake is in the top distance and the lip of Ithaca Falls is on the bottom.

Cornell plans to install safety nets below most bridges over Cascadilla and Fall Creek gorges near its campus. Hopefully these will be effective for their purpose with minimum obstruction of the views, and will permit the removal of most of the fences. See a TV broadcast about the nets.

Meanwhile, Cornell has become a leader among universities in providing students, faculty, and staff with resources to identify and help students who are at risk of suicide.

See the New York Times article last year about the fences.

Life (and death) is a Beech!

A small American beech tree adds color to the understory of the forest along the Bear Trail in the upper portion of Buttemilk Falls State Park.

A beech sapling lights up the understory along the Bear Trail.

These colorful branches are on a small tree. Can you make out the trunk? It’s not that big tree in back, but the thin trunk before it. Unfortunately, this is an example of the size of beech you are likely to see in our forests these days.

Tragically, the American beech (Fagus grandifolia), a large and stately member of our forest community, has largely succumbed to beech bark disease, caused by the combined effects of an insect and a fungus. Most large trees have fallen, and small trees may emerge for awhile from roots.

A beech tree killed by beech bark disease has fallen across the trail in the Finger Lakes Land Trust''s Sweedler Preserve at Lick Brook in Ithaca. Can you find the broken-off stump?

The beech scale insect was introduced from abroad into Nova Scotia about 1890. This is just another example of the terrible losses of major tree species in our forests from introduced insects and diseases. Learn more about beech bark disease.

Meanwhile, please enjoy our fall colors nonetheless!