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Location / Directions / Maps
On the south end of
Bing Maps (Bird's-eye);
Camp Loop Map (PDF);
Official Park Map (PDF);
Park: N 42.41501 / W 76.51930
Buttermilk Falls: N 42.41501 / W 76.51930
Lake Treman: N 42.39941 / W 76.51126
Directions: To the
lower parking area: Once in Ithaca, go Route 13
South for one and a half miles. Buttermilk Falls
State Park will be on your left.
To reach the upper parking area,
take NY 96B south of Ithaca, past Ithaca College, to
King Road. Here, turn right, and follow the signs to
the upper entrance, which is right before the bridge
over Buttermilk Creek on your left.
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
falls: 10. Buttermilk Falls, the main
attraction, is directly accessible and visible from
the parking lot in the lower area. Additionally,
there are 9 or so other waterfalls, accessible by
hiking the gorge trail, which you’ll find by
crossing the bridge over the creek near the main
parking area. Not all of the waterfalls are
accessible to photography as the steepness and
available angles in the gorge make it difficult.
Cascades, staircases, segmented falls, and plunges.
The main falls, or Buttermilk Falls, is 165 ft high,
tumbling in a wide, frothy cascade. It is divided
into two equally high segments (the 'first' and
'second' fall), with a twist around the gorge
in-between. There are numerous cascades and plunges
along the rest of the trail, varying from 5 to 35 ft
to visit: Spring, early summer, fall. The
park’s trails are closed after November, but
Buttermilk Falls is still accessible from the lower
parking lot area.
Variable, depending on rainfall. May be a trickle in
Buttermilk Creek, which begins in the Danby State
Forest 3 miles south, runs north through the park,
and then empties into the Cayuga Inlet, which leads
to Cayuga Lake.
10 minutes for Buttermilk Falls and the swimming
area. 1 hour for the gorge trail. 2-3 hours for the
gorge and rim trails.
open all year. Camping season from May to October.
Swimming is open from the last weekend in June
through Labor Day weekend. Call (607) 273-5761 for a
more precise swimming schedule. All trails close
Multiple parking lots can handle up to 100 cars.
entry fee of $7 collected 10am-6pm daily from June
19-September 6th and weekends only from May 1-June
18th and September 11-October 18th.
accessibility: Yes (for the parking area,
swimming pool and adjacent facilities. The trails
Allowed on leash with proof of inoculation. Not
allowed in the swimming area or on the gorge trail.
For their safety and the safety of others, we
recommend you do not take your pet on the gorge
Swimming, life guards, snack bar, nature trails,
picnic tables, grills, playing fields, pavilions,
playground, restrooms, showers, camp sites, cabin
rentals, fishing, hunting.
Local Activities and Events
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current happenings around Ithaca.
Area Attractions / Places to Stay
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Cascadilla Gorge - Ithaca, NY
Ithaca Falls - Ithaca, NY
Robert H. Treman State Park (Lucifer Falls) - Ithaca, NY
Taughannock Falls - Trumansburg, NY
Ludlowville Falls - Lansing, NY
Bed & Breakfast
Federal House B&B - Lansing, NY
Cayuga Lake Country Inn - Lansing, NY
Touch of Country B & B - Ithaca, NY
Amazing Grace B & B - Ithaca, NY
Besemer Station Inn - Ithaca, NY
Bountiful Blessings B & B - Freeville, NY
Brookton Hollow Farm B&B - Brooktondale, NY
Carriage House Bed & Breakfast - Newfield, NY
Coddington Guest House - Ithaca, NY
Edgewood Guest House - Ithaca, NY
Columbia - Ithaca, NY
William Henry Miller Inn - Ithaca, NY
Noble House Farm Bed & Breakfast - Newfield, NY
Rogue's Harbor B&B - Lansing, NY
Reunion House - Trumansburg, NY
Finger Lakes Cabins at Mill Creek - Hector, NY
Tourelle Resort & August Moon Spa - Ithaca, NY
Grayhaven Motel - Ithaca, NY
Book a Campsite at this Park
Robert H. Treman State Park - Ithaca, NY
Pine Creek Campground - Newfield, NY
Wineries / Breweries
Long Point Winery
- Aurora, NY
King Ferry Winery - King Ferry, NY
Mile Creek Vineyard-Winery - Ithaca, NY
Hard Cider - Trumansburg, NY
Beer Company - Ithaca, NY
More wineries are listed on the
Cayuga Lake page.
Restaurants / Cafes
Mano's Diner - Ithaca, NY
Lucatelli's Ristorante - Ithaca, NY
Thai Cuisine Restaurant - Ithaca, NY
Rogan's Corner - Ithaca, NY
Over Ithaca - Ithaca, NY
Purity Ice Cream - Ithaca, NY
Ice Cream joints...
Sciencenter - Ithaca, NY
Museum of the Earth at PRI - Ithaca, NY
Tompkins County History Center - Ithaca, NY
Johnson Museum of Art - Ithaca, NY
Center Ithaca - Ithaca, NY
Ithaca Mall - Ithaca, NY
Hangar Theatre - Ithaca, NY
Kitchen Theatre Company - Ithaca, NY
State Theater - Ithaca, NY
Cinemaopolis - Ithaca, NY
Who to Contact
Buttermilk Falls State Park
c/o Robert H. Treman State Park
105 Enfield Falls Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: (607) 273-5761 (summer)
Phone: (607) 273-3440
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Buttermilk Falls State Park takes its name from its
centerpiece, the classical 165 ft foaming cascade, enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year. The water
mixes, twists and turns over the rock, looking indeed like
creamy buttermilk as it reaches the bottom. Buttermilk
Creek drops a total of over 650 feet through this valley toward
Lake, tumbling over ten distinct waterfalls along the
Buttermilk Falls State Park could easily be divided into two
sections, upper and lower, each
offering the visitor a uniquely beautiful experience. The
lower park offers superb waterfall viewing and a great
chance to swim in the wake of the colossal falls for which
the park is named. A downstream dam deepens the plunge basin
below the Falls, giving visitors this exceptionally cool and
refreshing pool to relax and play in. This is the main draw of the
park and it can get quite crowded on hot summer days.
The lower portion of the gorge is reminiscent of intimate and saturated
Finger Lakes gorges like Watkins Glen State Park.
The waterfalls of Buttermilk Creek are typical of the area –
multiple layers of loose shale and porous limestone, which
has been cut by the erosive powers of the creek, sculpting a
spectrum of cliffs and leaving numerous waterfalls of
various shapes and sizes along the way. Here you will see
pillars protruding from the glen, made of stone formed in
the late Devonian age. Pulpit Rock, one of the more striking
formations, oversees the roaring Pulpit Falls. Upstream
Pinnacle Rock hogs all the attention. This 42 foot high
spire, created by erosion and the expansion of a massive fault in
the rock wall of the gorge, stands mysteriously alone in the creek bed.
Potholes, carved by sand and pebbles caught in circulating creek
currents can be found throughout Buttermilk creek, giving the glen more
character and color, with their deep bluish tint.
The upper park levels off as you reach Lake Treman. Numerous
meadows provide for excellent vistas and plenty of
opportunities for viewing wildlife. A campground gives
visitors a chance for an extended stay. The 60 campsites present
in the park offer no utilities, but are comfortably close to
the park's happenings while providing privacy and
tranquility in the wooded and hilly setting of the upper
park. There are also 7 cabins available for rent in the
During the early 1700s,
Indians lived in the village of Coreorgonel near Ithaca.
They were remnants of a large nation in the Virginia/North
Carolina region. Driven from their homeland by colonists,
they settled with the Cayugas as part of the Iroquois
Confederacy and established a home near Buttermilk Falls.
There were over twenty log cabins, with farm fields and
orchards, which were abandoned and then burned to the ground
by Continental soldiers during the Revolutionary War. The
remaining tribe members fled towards Canada and have since
Numerous mills existed along the creek during the 1850s. A
dam was built above Buttermilk Falls and supplied
water to the City of Ithaca until the early 1900s. A large
grist mill operated in the upper section of the park. Like
nearby Robert Treman State Park, the initial grant of land
for the park came from Robert and Laura Treman. Since 1924,
the original 154 acres have grown to the present size of 751
Hiking / Trails / Exploration
Easy, moderate, or difficult.
Our recommended walk covers about 1.5 miles,
Standard brown and yellow state park
The lower (and biggest) waterfall is located directly
adjacent to the parking lot. It has paved trails and can be
accessed by anyone.
To access the Gorge Trail, enter the lower entrance
to the park and cross the bridge to the steep gorge trail on
the right-hand side of the waterfall. The gorge trail has
numerous stairs and quickly rises in elevation from the parking
area. It winds around the numerous waterfalls and passes the Pinnacle Rock, eventually reaching the upper
park entrance ¾ of a mile down the trail.
From there, the gorge trail either continues across the road
to the Bear Trail, which follows Buttermilk Creek and
eventually leads to Lake Treman (¾ mile from the junction
with the road) or crosses the creek onto the Rim Trail
which loops around the top of the gorge and leads back to the lower
The Larch Meadow Trail is a self-guided loop of about one
mile. It begins near the ball fields at the lower park. A
trail guide is available at the park office.
Finger Lakes spur trail also ties into the upper reaches
of the Lake Treman trail in the north of the park.
Park Map (pdf),
Camp Loop Map (pdf)
Larch Meadows —
This wetland is a great location for watching wildlife,
birds in particular. It is hidden in the lower park, behind
the ball fields. A nature trail will take you through it.
Get a trail guide at the park office.
Potholes — These deep impressions in the creek bed
indicate locations of past waterfalls. This is where plunge
pools used to be. Water from past waterfalls swirled rocks and
sand in the creek bed and carved pits into the bedrock.
Since then, the rock behind those waterfalls eroded, pushing the
drops further upstream and leaving the potholes behind.
Currents continue to mix trapped sand and rocks to
continually deepen these holes.
Owl Creek Gorge —
Northeast of Buttermilk Creek, past the
camping area, is this second gorge. It drops nearly 500 feet
in less than a mile. The flow is highly variable and the
opportunities for waterfalls may be slim. It is unknown to us at
this time the accessibility of this area of the park.
largest and most accessible waterfalls are often times very
crowded during nice weather. So photographing them
in their natural state can be rather difficult. There are
often swimming buoys at the bottom of
Buttermilk Falls that will
get in the way of photography. Often times, the water flow
will be very low and difficult to see. For a better photo opportunity, hike partially up the gorge trail and take pictures
of the second tier of Buttermilk Falls (it is usually hidden
from the point of view of the parking lot).
The further reaches
of the gorge are forested, damp
and well-shaded, making
photography a bit easier. You'll find that less people venture
this far up the gorge trail, and that means more natural
scenery for you. Some waterfalls are so far down in the
ravine that photography is not possible.
for more waterfall photography tips.
Links of Interest
Book a Campsite at this Park
Samponi Tribe History
Finger Lakes Memories
Park Virtual Tour