Fillmore Glen State Park

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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: Route 38, one mile south of Moravia. South of Owasco LakeCayuga County, New York.

Maps – Google Map, Bing Maps, Multi Map (topo); InteractiveCamp Loop Map; Trail Map.

GPS/Locations: Park entrance: (N 42.70013 / W 76.42000)
Swimming dam: (N 42.69857 / W 76.41463)
Cow Shed Falls: (N 42.69780 / W 76.41270)

Directions – Take Rt. 38 through the village of Moravia. About one mile south of the village, there will be a sign for Fillmore Glen State Park on your left. Parking is ample and located right near the information kiosk.

From Cortland and I-81:  From Exit 12 of I-81, follow Rt. 281 north to Rt. 90. Turn west onto 90, and continue about 15 minutes to Rt. 38 in Locke. Turn north onto 38 and follow it a few miles to Fillmore Glen State Park on your right.

From Ithaca and points South and West: Follow Rt. 79 east to Rt.366. Continue east on 366 to its end at Rt. 38 in Freeville. Turn north onto Rt. 38 and drive for another 20 minutes or so to Fillmore Glen State Park on your right.

Parking: Large parking area at the front of the park.

Information / Accessibility / Accommodations

Latest Moravia, New York, weather conditions and forecast

Number of falls: 5 major waterfalls, various smaller cascades.

Size/Types:  Ranging from 5-40’ high. Cascades, punchbowls, plunges and chutes. The Cowsheds falls is about 30’ high. The upper falls at the end of the gorge trail is around 40’.

Best time to visit: Year round. The Park’s gorge trails are closed after November, but the Cowsheds Falls which is accessible ¼ of a mile from the parking lot is accessible year round. In cold weather, it becomes completely frozen over. In the wintertime, snowmobilers and cross-country skiers use the parks unplowed roads.

Flow: Variable, depending on rainfall. May be very low during mid-summer.

Waterway: Dry Creek, a tributary to the Owasco Inlet, with empties into Owasco Lake.

Time: 5 minutes for the Cowshed Falls – 2-3 hours for the rest of the gorge trail.

Seasons/Hours: Park open all year. Camping season from mid-May to mid-October. Gorge Trails close in winter.

Admission: $7 per vehicle (typically collected weekends and holidays from spring-fall, and daily during the peak season).

Handicap accessibility: Yes, the park’s west end is accessible, including the swimming area. The gorge trail is not.

Pets: Allowed on leash and with proof of inoculation. NOT allowed in the swimming area or on the gorge trail. This is for your pet’s safety and for the safety of other people hiking the gorge rim. Please do not bring your pets on the trail.

Swimming: Swimming in the dammed area when the lifeguard is on duty (typically Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day).

Camping: 3 cabins and 60 campsites. Camping is from May to November. Book a campsite.

Accommodations: pavilions; playground; picnic tables; playing fields; bathrooms.

Contact Information

Description

Fillmore Glen is one of the many beautiful gorges in the Finger Lakes region. Out of all the surrounding parks (Buttermilk, Treman, Watkins Glen), Fillmore is the most rustic and closest to its natural state. Fillmore Glen is an oasis of cool, dense woods crowding into a long, narrow gorge. Its hiking trails offer magnificent views, distinctive geological characteristics (similar to Watkins Glen), including five major waterfalls within the glen. Of particular interest is the west end of the park, where a dam creates a refreshing natural pool for visitors to cool off in. Just about anyone can handle the short walk to Cowshed Falls, a 37 ft high waterfall in a secluded section of the gorge.

More adventurous visitors can hike upstream, passing numerous beautiful cascades along the mossy stonework of the gorge trail. With miles of trails within the park, the possibilities for hiking and photographing are astounding. Even in summer, the park doesn’t get as busy as some of the larger Finger Lakes parks and one can always find a secluded spot for some peace and quiet.

Fillmore Glen has 60 campsites, a stream-fed dammed swimming area, and plenty of places for picnicking. In the winter the park is often used for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Fillmore Glen State Park

Fillmore Glen Videos

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Hiking / Walking Trails

Difficulty: Easy, moderate, or difficult depending on how far you go.

Markings: State park signs and trail blazes.

Distance: A hike along the gorge trail is about a mile one way.

Description: The lower (and biggest) waterfall is located directly adjacent to the parking lot in the Cowshed area. It has paved trails and can be accessed by anyone by crossing the stone bridge and walking a couple of minutes to your left toward Cowshed Falls.

The Gorge trail will get you to all the waterfalls outside of the Cowshed area. A full 1 mile hike to the end of the gorge trail will reward you with a view of the upper falls. Although the start of the trail is 150 ft climb up a wooded hill, once above the Cowshed area, the trail becomes a flat stone walkway. It winds around beautifully unique cascades along mossy stonework. Steps will get you above each of the falls and wooden bridges take you across the creek where necessary. In autumn this trail blooms with beautiful colors, and is one of the better hikes possible in that season.

Near the end of the gorge trail, it does become less defined and steep, without the stone walls, walkways and bridges that define the rest of the gorge trail.  It ascends and joins with the South Rim Trail, which will lead back to the descent down the hill and to the parking area.

The North and South Rim Trails follow the gorge rim on their respective sides. These trails offer birds-eye views of some of the waterfalls.

Map: InteractiveCamp Loop MapTrail Map.

Fillmore Glen Interactive Map

Drag the map or click the arrows to move around and use the +/- to zoom in or out. Click on the icons for more information. This map is not accurate. Caution and common sense should be used when hiking.

View Fillmore Glen State Park in a larger map

History

Fillmore Glen stoneworkNamed after the 13th President of the United States, Millard Fillmore (who was born nearby) the glen now bears his name. President Fillmore was born just outside of Moravia, NY and married in a house that is still standing in the village.

The glen was long known for its abundant plant life and botanical diversity, prompting local governments to construct trails and maintain it as a park in the early 1920s. In 1925 the state acquired the land and established it as a State Park.

Fillmore Glen was the site of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in 1934-38, owing many of its stone walls and bridges to the CCC construction crews active during the Great Depression. The CCC is responsible for many State Park construction efforts including the beautiful stone masonry work found in such parks as Fillmore Glen, Watkins Glen and Letchworth.

Interesting Stuff

Millard Fillmore

The park was named after Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874), the 13th President of the United States (1850–1853) who was born in a log cabin in nearby Moravia. A replica of his childhood home is on display near the main parking area by the swimming pond. Yes, it was really that small. The cabin is usually open during peak tourist seasons.

Photography Tips

Capturing the falls

  • By far – the easiest falls to photograph is the lower falls in the Cowsheds area because of the unique overhanging rock formation.  Photographing these falls requires a wide-angle lens to get all the elements included in the picture.
  • Some of the falls along the trail are located on the other side of the gorge, in a very steep area making photographing them without brush in the way impossible. It is NOT advisable to attempt to climb down into the water to get a shot. There is a lot of loose shale that crumbles very easily. You best bet is to visit in late autumn before the trail closes, to capture the falls when the leaves are off the trees.
  • The middle and upper falls are large and in the open, making photographing them and the surrounding gorge rather easy from the sides of the trail. A wide angle lens is a must to get the full breadth of the shot including the sheer rock walls.

Overcast skies

  • Daylight will cast uneven shadows through the canopy and cause sunspots in your shots. It is best to wait for an overcast sky for this one.

Silky water effect

  • To get that smooth cotton-candy look to the falls, you need to use a Neutral Density (ND) filter on your lens. The ND filter will block some of the light from entering the lens without altering the color, and thus allow your shutter to stay open longer. This blurs the water and creates a soft white gloss to the foamy areas of the falls. You can pick up a Neutral Density (ND) filter relatively cheap on Amazon.
  • Cut down on reflections and help reduce the light entering the lens by utilizing a Circular Polarizer filter. Most of the waterfall scenes shown on this website are captured with this type of filter. It reduces glare and helps us obtain more even exposures.You can pick up a Circular Polarizer filter relatively cheap on Amazon.
  • When shooting slow shutter speeds a sturdy Tripod is a must. Don’t settle for a cheap tripod that wobbles in the wind or can be vibrated by water currents. Amazon has a nice selection of quality Tripods.

More tips

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