First Day Hike at Taughannock Falls

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.

Sights and Sounds of Taughannock in Transition

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.

Towering trees over a snowy trail

The few inches of overnight snow clung festively to the trees and dusted the trail under my feet.

Photo Credit: Kathey MacQueen

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.

From the stream bed near the main waterfall

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.

Beautiful Taughannock.

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.

Melting Snow and Falling Water

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!

A Sure Sign of Winter: Trail Closures

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.

Happy winter hiking!

Cooler Temperatures at Taughannock

Yesterday’s cold front took summertime temperatures away from the Finger Lakes region, at least for the foreseeable future! The cooler temperatures this morning provided the perfect crisp backdrop for a leisurely walk around the rim trail.

Looking toward the lake from the north rim, you can almost imaging the vibrant colors that’ll soon be out in full force. The yellows and oranges are starting to pop through the canopies, overlooking a fully and happy Taughannock Creek.

I enjoyed seeing people fishing just beyond the Route 89 bridge, too. It must be a fantastic time of year for fish to explore upstream from the junction with Cayuga Lake.

Taughannock, Post-Florence

Hurricane Florence wreaked havoc as it came ashore over the weekend, dropping tons of water as it arced slowly toward New York State. When the National Weather Service warned of potential flooding overnight as remnants of the storm passed over the area, I made plans. My morning run would definitely be at Taughannock, camera in hand.

The overnight rains were not as heavy as forecasted, and by the time 7:30 rolled around, no more rain was falling. As I pulled into the parking lot under gray skies, I noticed I was all alone. No other hikers were there yet, at least at the top trailhead.

From the upper falls bridge

As I began my run I heard the thunder of water over the upper falls. Definitely not as much flow as I’ve seen in the past, but beautiful and powerful nonetheless.

Vibrant color, trailside

I enjoyed a somewhat leisurely run around the rim and base trails, focusing more on looking around me than looking at the pace on my watch. When I’d reached the base of the falls I sat on the bridge and took the opening video of this compilation.

After I’d completed the base trail round-trip and started back up the South Rim, the sun peeked through the clouds to the east, lighting up the gorge walls to my right. It was the perfect way to start off the day!

Change is on the Horizon at Taughannock Falls

After spending several weeks in the dry (read: non-humid) climate of central Oregon, I returned to my Taughannock trails over the weekend. While running the trails, the humid air had me soaked in just minutes. I was not alone, either. Throngs of visitors packed the base trail and the overlook and the rim trail were more heavily trafficked than normal.

Heat and humidity notwithstanding, change is on the horizon. The days are getting shorter. Nights are getting cooler. The humidity will break (I keep telling myself this). As I write this, school is about to start up again in Trumansburg. Kids and parents alike will begin the sprint to Halloween, Thanksgiving and the holidays beyond.

I was not bothered in the least by the crowds this weekend. In fact, I loved them. I loved seeing people see this waterfall for the first time, or for the hundredth time. I loved the smell of food cooking over campground fires. I loved seeing people lounging in hammocks next to their elaborate tents. I know that everything will change at Taughannock in the coming months. Water volume will ebb and flow. Visitors and campers will return to their hometowns as summer vacations end. The trails will become relatively empty. And yes, snow and ice will envelop the park after colorful leaves impress us with their vibrancy.

Autumn, winter, spring and summer.

The cycle repeats itself.

A Chocolate Waterfall?

Everything turns lush and green when it rains in the Finger Lakes. When it rains too much, however, a touch of brown is added to that greenery. Well, “a touch” is a bit too subtle. When Taughannock flows heavily amid weather service warnings of localized flooding, I’m reminded of Willy Wonka’s chocolate waterfall. A very, very powerful chocolate waterfall.

If you saw Taughannock at its driest this year in early summer, you’ll be shocked at the amazing photos and videos that my friend Laura captured at the park this morning. She and her husband Scott are also frequent runners in the park and I’m so grateful they shared these amazing views!

Click through to Laura’s post for more photos and some fantastic video!