It’s hard to believe that it is mid-May, yet we’ve barely made it out of the 40s during this rainy week. Taughannock is coming alive with vibrant green leaves bursting forth from the trees. The swollen creek and wet trails lend a rainforest feel to the park. During my hour on the trails this morning, I saw not another soul, but had plenty of company from the nature around me.
The lower end of the South Rim and the stairs of the North Rim trails are open for business! Notably absent are steps at the beginning of the South Rim trail from the base parking lot. I hope those are in the works? Regardless, we don’t have to grapple with deciding whether to skirt the trail closure signs in temperate days, now that the trails are fully open.
Today’s high temperature was 57. That’s crazy hot for February, and after a long visit from the polar vortex, no less. All of that snow and ice on the ground started melting quickly, so I headed to Taughannock to see what had changed, and how the NYSDOT’s preparations were holding up at the intersection of Route 89 and Taughannock Creek.
As you can see in the image above, the waterfall itself is alive, with brown water gushing past clinging ice. At the base of the falls, the dome is still intact but a stream down its left side will quickly change that. That, and the next four days. We’re in for highs in the mid 40s and about an inch of rain. Only Friday night do temperates become seasonal once more.
Check out this video. I started at the base and hope you can tell just how powerful the water is, especially as it surfaces and dives below the ice once more. Near the lake, excavators are hard at work making sure water and ice has a clear channel to exit into the lake. Then, at the top of the park at the upper falls, you can see more of the power of water as it cascades down into the upper gorge. It’s truly fantastic.
Tuesday, February 5: check out this video from NYSDOT. Amazing!
Video of Taughannock Creek breaking through the ice pack yesterday. Some real power of nature stuff here. pic.twitter.com/CAHVeOu2XK
Thursday, February 7: The NYSDOT’s hard work paid off. It doesn’t look like water spilled over the banks of Taughannock Creek, though if it had it would have been nicely contained. The waterfall itself is shrouded in fog at the moment. You can’t see a bit of it from the overlook! I did get some video and photos to see how well things are flowing at the very top and bottom, though.
It’s been very cold the past few days. The result at Taughannock is nothing less than spectacular! I went for a run on the rim trail today after confirming with the park office that the base trail was closed. They said they were having issues with ice, and as I approached Route 89 I saw what they meant. The waterfall normally visible from the Route 89 bridge is barely discernible amidst the mound of snow and ice that’s built up from the creek bottom.
I spoke with one of the NYSDOT workers. They were preparing for potential flooding by excavating a channel for water to flow under the southernmost arch of the Route 89 bridge. He said that ice damming has prevented this in the past, sending water up onto the lawn area, over the parking lot and across Route 89. They’re using the excavators to take down trees, punch holes in the existing ice, and provide a channel for water to flow under (instead of over) the road.
Temperatures moderate tomorrow, and Sunday through Tuesday we’ll see highs in the mid-40s. We’ll see how much melting happens before temperatures become more seasonal later in the week. In the meantime, enjoy these sights and sounds from my hike/run around Taughannock today!
Today’s temperatures started in the low teens, so perfect for a trail run, right? The first mile was brutal, but the brutality lessened as I came into the cover of the woods and the gorge. I stood for a moment on the pedestrian bridge at the end of the base trail, taking in the quiet beauty of the gorge around me. Next time you’re there, look closely at the overhanging gorge walls. The rock clinging tenuously to the walls. The icicles slowly descending from their frosty perches. The gorge is slowly but constantly changing, and it is gorgeous.
Are you up for a hike to kick off the new year? Taughannock’s First Day Hike is January 1 at 1 pm. It’s a fantastic, well-attended event sure to bring a smile to the first day of 2019! Meet at the start of the Gorge Trail by NYS Route 89.
As we sat at Liquid State enjoying some takeout Thai last night during the MONSOON, I thought, “Huh, I bet Taughannock is going to be pretty cool in the morning.” I was right. Yesterday’s high temperature was in the low 60s. As the front moved through overnight, torrential rains saturated the already-wet ground. At some point, the temperature became cold enough to make some snow.
The few inches of overnight snow clung festively to the trees and dusted the trail under my feet.
As I was hiking the base trail, my wife Amy enjoyed a rim trail hike with Kathey MacQueen. Kathey took this beautiful picture of the upper falls.
I carefully descended to the stream bed just below the falls to capture the raging water up close. I was more fascinated with the roots clinging to the shoreline.
The bigger show was likely overnight when the water was even higher. Here you can see how high the water was: it’s at least a foot higher than it was this morning.
All along the way I took short snippets of video. Here’s the result: enjoy the sights and sounds of Taughannock. Her stream bed is behaving like fall or spring, yet the woods are filled with winter.
Winter seemed to arrive early this year. We’ve had several weeks of snowfall and enjoyed a White Thanksgiving here in the Finger Lakes. The temperatures moderated over the last few days, though, and a full night of rain melted much of the snow and sent it downstream. Taughannock Creek was swollen with rainwater as I ran on the North Rim and base trails. The base of the waterfall reminded me of Niagara Falls’ Maid of the Mist boat ride. I got a thorough soaking while I shot the first seconds of the clip below. I loved every minute of my morning!
It’s icy and cold in the Finger Lakes again (starting to look like the prior season’s picture above), which means it’s time for the park to close sections of the North and South Rim Trail. Specifically, the south segment from the base parking lot to the junction with Gorge Road, and the north segment’s bottom staircase. The stairs to the lower part of the overlook are closed, too.
If you’re a rim trail hiker, use the road on the bottom half of the south side, and the alternate route signs on the north side will take you on the campground access road to circumvent the stairs.