Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival

Next Saturday, July 14, the Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival comes to Taughannock Falls State Park! The event is from 8a-5:30p. If you’ve never seen dragon boat racing, this is a fantastic opportunity to see it at the park!

Traditionally, the Dragon Boat Festival is known as Duan Wu Jie (Mandarin) or Tuen Ng (Cantonese) which translates almost literary “Day of Right mid-Day”. It also known as Double Fifth Celebration, the Festival is traditionally celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month in the lunar calendar. Because of the modernization and the popularity of dragon boating, the Festival is becoming known as the Dragon Boat Festival.

If you want to become involved outside of the festival, check out the Ithaca Dragon Boat Club!

Photo used with permission from the Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival.

Algae Blooms Return to Taughannock

The park reports on their Facebook Page that their beach closed on July 7 due to a blue-green algae bloom. This was a problem last year as well. Let’s hope it is not a chronic issue this year!

Update: to check on the latest reported status of blooms in Cayuga Lake, check out this link. HT to Shane Eversfield for sharing via the Ithaca Triathlon Club listserv.

Moonrise Hike

Summer hikes are particularly nice in the early morning or late evening, before and after larger groups of visitors come to the park. Last night was one such evening. We hit the trail at 8:15 p.m., after the heat of the day had passed and just before dusk descended. As we crested the South Rim, the full moon rose through the trees to our left, casting wonderful shafts of moonlight across the darkening trail. With nobody else around, the sounds of animals in the woods to our left and water cascading to our right was surreal. We arrived back at our car a short hour after we started, renewed and refreshed just before dusk turned to night.

Taughannock Through a Slow(er) Runner’s Eyes

Today I set out for a run at Taughannock to recover from some fast road work that has left my legs feeling rather tired. I parked at the Jacksonville Road lot, slipped into my trail shoes, and smiled upward at the lightening sky. The morning clouds were burning off nicely, and though we’re experiencing our classic New York State humidity, the temperature was just about right for a light, no-expectations run in the park. A “fartlek”, as they’d say in running circles.

Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training. Fartlek runs are a very simple form of a long distance run. Fartlek training “is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running.”

This wasn’t a long run by any stretch, but the three miles around the rim trail would stretch out my legs quite nicely. As an added bonus, there were no time goals in my mind. I only had a punchlist of things to find for a #RunChatHunt contest on twitter. I needed to photograph some trash I picked up (the park is rather clean, so I thought this’d be a tough one), snap a picture of me running on a non-paved trail (easy!) and get a shot of a trail marker.

I overheard a small group of hikers with dogs at the top of the trail talking about how some of them had never been to Taughannock, and how some had never hiked it from the top. It’s easy to forget about how fantastic the park is when you live here and experience it as often as I do. I love seeing all of the out-of-state license plates in the parking lot. I used today’s run as a way to reconnect with the trail, in a sense.

I ran the short connector trail to Black Diamond where I scored my trashy photos. First up was a large piece of paper that likely once embraced a sandwich. Then, a candy wrapper. I turned around on a short singletrack that led across the bridge to the north rim trail, quickly running into my friend Christina who was out for a run of her own. I told her about fartlek (man, that’s fun to say) and said I’d see her on the other side.

I slowed down when I felt like it. I looked around. I smiled and greeted people as I we passed each other. I had someone take a picture of me at the overlook. It was delightful. I didn’t feel a ton of pressure to start running as soon as I’d finished one of the few staircases on the south rim. I stopped to capture pictures of the gorge from a few of the open vantage points on both sides of the rim.

Smiling at the overlook

I was back at the parking lot sooner than I’d have liked, but I had a day of other things ahead of me. It was time to go home, but not before smiling again at the people driving into the parking lot. After all, it was quite likely that a few were about to experience their first time at Taughannock. And that’s a good thing.

View of Cayuga Lake from the North Rim trail

Beach Swim Area to Open June 16

The park announced on their Facebook page that the swim area will be open as of June 16. It’ll be open daily between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Contact the park if you’re interested in the learn to swim program, or have any other questions about swimming at Taughannock.

Luna Moth Sighting

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.

Biking on the Black Diamond Trail

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.

Memorial Day Weekend at Taughannock Falls

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!

Base Trail Closed for Scaling Work

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

Do You Like Piña Coladas?

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!

Post-run, post-rain

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.