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.
On this evening’s hike, we were so excited to see a luna moth (Actias luna) clinging to a fence just above the overlook on the North Rim. I’ve never seen this moth before, and it’s one of the largest in North America. From the Wikipedia page, some fun facts:
Here in New York, they produce just 2 generations each year: first in April or May, and then again 9-11 weeks later. Since it’s May 31, this one got it in just under the wire.
After their larval and pupal stages, they live only a week as adults! This makes them a rarity to see.
Adults do not have mouths, and they don’t eat. The exist solely to mate (ahem).
Those fancy tails on their wings are meant to be expanded when they’re attacked by bats. It confuses the bats, and therefore is a survival mechanism. Very, very cool.
I enjoyed a bike ride today end-to-end on the Black Diamond Trail. The surface is so wonderful, and rather suited to my road bike tires. The ride was very smooth, so you definitely don’t need fat bike tires or a mountain bike to enjoy the ride. Wonder what the trail looks like when you’re on a set of wheels? Check out the video below.
The weekend has barely started and there was a solid stream of cars visiting the overlook today at lunchtime. It’s going to be a busy, beautiful weekend at Taughannock! There’s plenty to explore, too. If crowds are not your thing, skip the overlook and head just a few minutes up the north rim trail. The view above awaits you from one of two vantage points. Make the complete rim trail circuit for three miles of beauty!
I ran into Fred Bonn this morning at the overlook. He told me that the base trail would be closed today, and potentially part of tomorrow, for scaling work.
Sure enough, as I made my way around the South Rim, I saw the Finger Lakes Region Scaling Team arriving and setting up halfway down the south side. They were all smiles: I think they LOVE their job! They get to harness up and scale the cliffs in some of the most beautiful places in New York State.
Check out this video of the team at work at Watkins Glen State Park, and also a great post at ithacafingerlakes.com.
I highly recommend piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain. But mostly getting caught in the rain. I enjoyed the last mile of today’s run during a torrential downpour on the Black Diamond Trail and upper North Rim. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way!
I started at the overlook and ran up the North Rim to the start of Black Diamond. It was overcast yet extremely humid. I half-hoped to get my workout in before the rain, and half-hoped I’d get soaked. On my return trip, lightning flashed in the distance and I knew I’d be in for some refreshing rain. A mile from the car, the lightning intensified and thunder rolled so hard I felt it in my chest. I hollered “yeah!” to nobody in particular, since the only companions I had today were a pair of wild turkeys and a few chipmunks traversing the Black Diamond.
The skies let loose as I started descending the rim trail. As I ran, the hard-packed dirt trail yielded to semi-flooded mud, yet still with sure footing. I hollered again as another intrepid runner passed me going the opposite direction on the rim trail. Wild turkeys, chipmunks and runners, indeed!
As I returned to my car, the sound of the retreating storm and the constant din of the falls called me to take a video. So I did. Here’s a brief clip of Taughannock Falls after the thunderstorm quickly rolled through. Not a soul in sight, and rather magical to hear the rolls of thunder retreating eastward over Cayuga Lake.
I started off my morning with a trail run out and back on the Black Diamond Trail. Starting with a warm up from the overlook parking lot gave me a chance to take in the nature around me before a good effort on flatter terrain. Upon returning, the overlook was a beautiful place to catch my breath. The sun drenched the north edge of the gorge, ducks flew through the air, and the only other sounds around me were those of my own relaxed breathing and footfalls.
My good friend Stan Stewart shares my affinity for Taughannock Falls. He writes that it’s one of his favorite places to visit. Just this past week, he saw a group of people setting up for a marriage proposal at the overlook! Check out his post about Taughannock Falls, and a link at the bottom of his page for a photo album of some of the fantastic pictures he’s taken there! He also has a fantastic post from 2017 showing the seasonality of the park, and the dramatic variations of water flow.
The leaves seem to be coming out slowly this year, which means you can still see a lot more of the gorge from the rim trail than usual. At least that’s how it feels! The Black Diamond Trail also seems rather exposed since there’s no rich canopy overhead to provide shade. The feature picture above is from the North Rim, looking down into the gorge and onto the base trail.
Below, you can see a unique view of the lip of Taughannock Falls from ABOVE the waterfall. Looking beyond the lip, you can also make out people standing at the end of the base trail, looking up at Taughannock Falls (click the image for a super-close look). Not the greatest picture I’ve ever taken with a phone (and everything is still a shade of brown in the gorge), but a very cool perspective, indeed.