Start off the New Year by making a healthy resolution you will love to keep: a breath-taking hike at Taughannock Falls. Join the Finger Lakes State Parks staff for a hike down and back on the Gorge Trail! If you are up for more of a challenge you can continue up to the Overlook on the North Rim trail, across to the Multi-use trails and then make your way back to the parking lot. Plan on being outside for at least 2 hours (more if you hike all 5 miles), please dress for the weather, bring water and wear appropriate footwear. We will meet at the start of the Gorge Trail by NYS Route 89.
Taughannock is colorful and beautiful, even when it’s cloudy with a light mist in the air. I went on a walk this morning on the base trail after stopping at the overlook to capture this post’s cover photo from an iconic angle. It’s a nice time of year to be in the park. It encourages a closer look at nature and quiet contemplation.
I went for a much-needed walk on Taughannock’s base trail Monday morning. As I walked, I considered the forecasted heat of the day, and how the remainder of the week promised to be cooler. It was a wonderful summer here in the Finger Lakes. As with many things, though, there’s a finite beginning and ending.
The water falling over Taughannock’s lip has slowed to a trickle. It will flow more heavily again, though. The leaves providing a rich canopy over many parts of the trail are turning colors and falling to the ground. The trees will be flush with leaves again, though. The air will turn cooler and snow will cover the trail this winter, at least for a time. It’ll be hot again, though. Such is the changing of the seasons!
A fast-moving storm dumped a ton of water on ground that really couldn’t take much more. Flood warnings are up all over the place, so I knew that Taughannock would quickly pick up its volume and give a good show. It didn’t disappoint!
The best part of the show was the upper falls, honestly. To see that volume of water cascading through such a narrow slot under the bridge is quite amazing!
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.