Fall Colors in the Finger Lakes

Episode 25 of Walk in the Park TV, “Fall Colors in the Finger Lakes,” is now showing on television and online. It begins Thursday evening at 9:00 p.m. on Ithaca’s public access cable TV channel 13 and continues for the next week according to the schedule below. Meanwhile, you can see “Fall Colors in the Finger Lakes” online.

Cornell University Fall Creek Gorge Cascadilla Ithaca NY Fall Colors aerial photograph

Most of the Cornell campus is bounded on the north and south by gorges: Fall Creek Gorge on the north (left) and Cascadilla Glen on the south (right). Photograph by Bill Hecht

Join me, Tony Ingraham, in this visual trip around the Finger Lakes region, from the ground and in the air, marveling at the fall foliage extravaganza nature has put on for us in October. Visit Taughannock Falls and Buttermilk Falls State Parks, Cascadilla Gorge, Ithaca Falls and Fall Creek Gorge, Cornell University campus, Cayuga Lake, Myers Park and Salmon Creek, Seneca County, Seneca Lake, Keuka Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Watkins Glen State Park, Sixmile Creek in Ithaca, and more. Photographer Bill Hecht’s views of Taughannock Gorge from the air are incomparable, as are his views of the Cornell campus situated between Fall Creek Gorge and Cascadilla Glen and other aerial vistas around the region. We also visit Cesar Chavez National Monument in California, Fishlake National Forest and Zion National Park in Utah, and Glacier National Park in Montana.

See the show right here!

Or, you can catch the show on Time Warner Cable public access television channel 13 in the Ithaca area:

Thursday,  9:00 p.m.

Saturday, 10:00 a.m.

Sunday,    10:00 a.m.

Tuesday,    8:00 p.m.

It also is shown at other times as the station manager chooses.

Fall at Ithaca Falls

The peak of fall colors is now coming down into the Cayuga Lake valley, including to Ithaca Falls near the mouth of Fall Creek Gorge at the northeast corner of the City of Ithaca. Ithaca Falls is in a beautiful little city park. There is parking nearby and you can reach the base of the falls in a two-minute easy stroll. At 150 feet high and 175 feet wide, Ithaca Falls is larger than any waterfall New England has and is one of the largest waterfalls in New York State. Fall Creek, which tumbles over the cliff here before gliding out across Ithaca to Cayuga Lake, is the largest single tributary to Cayuga Lake, so it makes quite a splash at Ithaca Falls. Fall Creek Gorge forms the northern boundary of the original Cornell University Campus. The gorge upstream from Ithaca Falls is owned and run as a publicly accessible preserve by Cornell Plantations.

The easiest and laziest way to see Ithaca Falls is from the Lake Street bridge 100 yards downstream.

Ithaca Falls at the end of Fall Creek Gorge in Ithaca, NY shows its beauty with the fall colors

Ithaca Falls as viewed from the Lake Street bridge in Ithaca, NY.

But, as you can see, Ithaca Falls is partially obscured by sycamore trees in this view. So, let’s go down by Fall Creek itself.

Ithaca Falls seen from the side of Fall Creek in Ithaca, NY during fall color season

Standing along the bank of Fall Creek, you can get a feel for the Ithaca Falls as part of the stream.

That tree is still in the way! Let’s walk up farther.

Ithaca Falls from the bank of Fall Creek, Ithaca, NY during fall foliage season

Let's walk farther upstream. Now you're talking!

Hey, can you see the Stewart Avenue Bridge back above Fall Creek Gorge, and the Suspension Bridge over the gorge on the Cornell campus beyond that?

Ithaca Falls from the woods along the short trail along Fall Creek Gorge in Ithaca NY during fall color season

To get closer to the falls, you need to walk the short path through the woods.

The path through the woods to the base of Ithaca Falls gives some lovely glimpses of the cataract.

Ithaca Falls is visible from the short trail along Fall Creek in this city park in Ithaca, NY, Finger Lakes region.

Ithaca Falls comes into full view at the end of the path. Do you see the man in this picture? He has not gone all the way to the base of the waterfall.

You can walk right up to the base of the falls, but I didn’t this time. You’ll have to go there and take your own picture. But don’t delay! Colors fade quickly, leaves fall, and winds whip the branches. Winter will come, but Ithaca Falls is crazy beautiful then too! Stay tuned.

Fall foliage along Fall Creek in Ithaca, as it makes its way downstream from Ithaca Falls toward Cayuga Lake

Fall Creek no longer pounds and splashes once it reaches the flats of downtown Ithaca. It has less than a mile remaining in its journey to Cayuga Lake. Where will the water go then?

Back on the downstream side of the Lake Street bridge, Fall Creek displays an entirely different temperament as it ambles across the City of Ithaca to its final destination, Cayuga Lake.

Check back in to this blog toward the end of next week, and I will have video of this scene as part of the next episode in my next Walk in the Park TV series, available on Ithaca’s public access cable channel 13 and online here! To see all of my shows, go to my Walk in the Park YouTube channel. Or go up to the category list in the far upper right of this page and select “Walk in the Park TV Show” to see my blog postings about all the episodes. The current show is “Fillmore Glen State Park.” It’s a good one!

~Tony Ingraham


Fillmore Glen State Park

“Ithaca is Gorges” they say in this town at the south end of Cayuga Lake. But there are lots of other beautiful gorges in New York’s Finger Lakes region, including Fillmore Glen by the little village of Moravia in Cayuga County south of Owasco Lake, the next Finger Lake to the east of Cayuga Lake. This lush and scenic gorge is preserved in Fillmore Glen State Park, due to the efforts of Dr. Charles Atwood, a local physician and amateur botanist, who advocated for its protection and establishment of the park in the 1920s. The new episode of “Walk in the Park,” our public access TV show in the Ithaca area, features Fillmore Glen with photographs and video taken recently.

Fillmore Glen State Park waterfall Gorge Trail Moravia, NY Cayuga County

A small waterfall about a mile up the Gorge Trail in Fillmore Glen

Fillmore Glen is named for Millard Fillmore, 13th president of the United States, who was born in 1800 in a cabin a few miles east of the park. He was the first “log cabin president” and the first president born in the nineteenth century. He was also the first president who rose from modest means to the middle class. Find out more about Millard Fillmore in our Walk in the Park video episode, “Fillmore Glen State Park.”

Official White House painting of President Millard Fillmore

Official White House painting of President Millard Fillmore, by G.P.A. Healy 1857

The climax of Fillmore Glen, and also the part most easily viewed, is the Cowsheds, a waterfall, rock amphitheater, and overhanging rock formation just a short walk from the picnic pavilion and swimming area in the mouth of the gorge.

Waterfall Cowsheds Fillmore Glen State Park gorge Moravia, NY, Cayuga County, Finger Lakes

The Cowsheds is the scenic star of Fillmore Glen.

In the photograph above, large slabs of limestone have fallen from the overhanging roof-like ledge up to the left. Freezing, thawing, wetting, drying, and high water have weathered and eroded out the Cowsheds.

For a full photo essay see our earlier posting, Fillmore Glen in Fall.

Our show on PEGASYS, “Fillmore Glen State Park,” also includes scenery from Cayuga Lake, Lick Brook Glen, Buttermilk Falls State Park, and culminates with photographs and video of fall foliage in Fall Creek Gorge, Ithaca Falls, and Cascadilla Glen in Ithaca and next to Cornell University. Watch our show on Ithaca’s cable access channel 13 at the schedule below or right here online.

View over Ithaca Falls and the city of Ithaca

Looking over Ithaca Falls and the city

Watch the show right here without leaving this page:

This episode, “Fillmore Glen State Park,” will premier on Ithaca’s channel 13 this evening at 9:00 p.m. It will be shown again according to the following schedule.

Walk in the Park, the TV show, airs weekly on Ithaca, NY’s public access cable TV channel 13:

Thursday,  9:00 p.m.

Saturday, 10:30 a.m.

Sunday,    10:30 a.m.

Tuesday,    8:00 p.m.

It also is shown at other times as the station manager chooses.

Walk in the Park, TV show, Episode 14

Our newest episode is now on Ithaca public access TV cable channel 13, recorded August 1, and is available here online. See the cablecast schedule here.

Taughannock Falls State Park gorge and Cayuga Lake

Taughannock Gorge on its way to Cayuga Lake. Photo by Bill Hecht

Host Tony Ingraham takes us from airplane views of Taughannock Falls, to an old growth forest, to Cayuga Inlet lighthouses, music on the Cornell Arts Quadrangle, to potholes, trees, and reflections in Buttermilk Glen, and finally to Glassmine Falls, over 800 feet high, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Smith Woods Old Growth

Smith Woods Trumansburg NY old growth forest ecology environmental education

An old hemlock tree in Smith Woods

On the edge of the Village of Trumansburg, NY near Cayuga Lake and Ithaca, Smith Woods is a 32 acre woodland with “old growth” trees, some that pre-date European settlement. Cayuga Nature Center took over the preserve from a local trust organization that had protected this small forest from destruction for a century. Smith Woods is a valuable local resource for environmental education and forest ecological studies.

Watch this 3 1/2 minute video for more about Smith Woods.

From a press release from FingerLakes1.com, 4/24/2009:

“Smith Woods is a magnificent, diverse tract of old growth forest located across from the fairgrounds, just south of the village of Trumansburg. Some of the trees are more than 200 years old, with a recently fallen hemlock dating back to 1663.

“The earliest records (1817) indicate that the tract was owned by Nicoll Halsey, a U.S. congressman who built a grist mill along Taughannock Creek. Mr. Halsey cleared lots of land south of Trumansburg, but for some reason, Smith Woods was left mostly intact. Halsey eventually sold the land to the local bank for debt repayment. After a few years, it was purchased by Henry Smith, a wallpaper manufacturer from New York City who vacationed in the area. When Smith died, he passed the tract on to his son, Arthur. A. Smith, who did not wish to vacation in the area but was a conservationist. He established a trust and sold the land to it for $1.00… [in]…1909.

“For …100 years, the woods [were] managed by community members serving as trustees of the trust. However, the Smith Woods board was not associated with an institution, so the property was not fully used for “educational and recreational purposes” as established in the charter. In 2005 the Smith Woods board began searching for a partner to help with the management of the property. [In 2009], the Cayuga Nature Center enthusiastically embraced the opportunity as the missions of both entities are nearly identical. A loop trail was established, school groups, scouts and community groups began using the woods for educational purposes, and invasive species were removed.”


Posing at Frowning Cliff

Compare these two photos of Frowning Cliff and Glen Arcadia in Watkins Glen, taken at similar times in the 1800s, long before the state park was established (1906).

Frowning Cliff in Watkins Glen historic

A man stands by Frowning Cliff with people on footbridges in the background in Glen Arcadia in the 1800s. Image courtesy of Bill Hecht.

Man at Frowning Cliff. Watkins Glen, historic

A man exhibits some mild machismo standing outside a railing similar to the one in the picture above, in the nearly the same location. Image courtesy of Bill Hecht

In the image below, you can see a wooden bridge, stairs, and railing in “Shadow Gorge,” just upstream from Rainbow Falls and downstream from Frowning Cliff. The current trail is on the opposite side of the gorge, cut into the cliff more than 100 years ago.

Shadow Gorge in Watkins Glen, historic

A huge hemlock tree has fallen across Shadow Gorge. Notice the other much larger tree standing at the upper right. These were undoubtedly old-growth timber at the time, very little of which survives today. Image courtesy of Bill Hecht.

Thanks again to Bill Hecht for these amazing old photos from stereographs!

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.


Great Days for Hiking!

Lately, the cool, sunny fall weather in the Finger Lakes has been perfect for hiking. There are still plenty of trees with residual fall colors glowing in the bright sun against the blue sky. I took this picture on the Finger Lakes Trail in Danby State Forest on Friday.


Fall colors along the Finger Lakes Trail in Danby State Forest

Fall colors along the Finger Lakes Trail in Danby State Forest

 Can you find the white paint trail marker on one of the trees here? Trail markers are more important for following the trail when the footpath is covered with leaves or snow. And it’s best to have a map. You can get trail maps from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. Here’s a selection from their interactive trail map on their website.

Trail map for the Finger Lakes Trail south of Ithaca, New York
A selection from the interactive map of the Finger Lakes Trail showing its general route through the Danby State Forest south of Ithaca, NY. Click on this map to go the actual interactive map on the FLTC website.
If you’d like to put yourself into the moving sights and sounds of the trail for half a minute, start this little video from yesterday’s hike.