Frontenac Falls at Camp Barton

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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: Located within Camp Barton, a private Boy Scout camp on the west side of Cayuga Lake, just north of Taughannock Falls State Park in Trumansburg, Seneca County, New York.

MapsGoogle MapBing MapMulti-map (topo); Interactive.

GPS: Frontenac Falls: (N 42.55472 / W 76.63242)
Upper Falls: (N 42.55338 / W 76.63343)
Ranger Station: (N 42.55818 / W 76.62759)

Directions: From Ithaca, follow route 89 North along the west shore of Cayuga Lake. About a mile after passing Taughannock Falls State Park, there will be a road on the left called Frontenac Point Road. Take the road to the end. Pull into the Ranger Station.

From 5/20 and points north – go until you intersect route 89 South. Take Route 89 south for about 23 miles until you reach Frontenac Road. Turn left at the large brown sign for Camp Barton. Go down the hill, to the right, and the camp will be on your right. Pull into the Ranger Station.

Or use Google Directions.

Parking: Adequate, located at the visitor parking lot by the ranger station.

Information / Accessibility / Accommodations

Note
The official position of the Boy Scouts of America is to allow visitors to view the falls if they sign in and out of the Ranger Station (camp office) at the camp when they are visiting. Camp Barton reserves the right to deny entrance depending upon what is going on during summer camp, usually held from June 15- August 15.

Call ahead of time to arrange proper permission to visit the falls.

Latest Trumansburg, New York, weather conditions and forecast

Number of falls: 2. One on Camp Barton property and a second one on a private plot west of the camp (not accessible).

Size/Types: Frontenac Falls is a 95 ft high cascade. The upper falls is just as big, in two tiers with a 45 degree twist.

Best time to visit: Spring and fall. Camp may be in session during the summer.

Flow: Variable, but rarely dries up.

Waterway: Trumansburg Creek, which empties into Cayuga Lake.

Time: 45 minutes.

Seasons/Hours: Daytime hours, during the off-season. Based on permission from the camp ranger. The camp is available for troop and scout family camping and meetings. Details are available here.

Admission: Free, based on permission.

Handicap accessibility: No.

Pets: Not allowed.

Camping: Scouts only, by reservation or summer camp. Details are available here.

Accommodations: Outhouses; first aid is available at the ranger station.

Contact Information

Description

Frontenac Falls is less than a mile north of Taughannock Falls State Park, but since the Trumansburg Creek drainage basin is not as massive as Taughannock Creek’s, the gorge at Frontenac is not nearly as long. The falls has a different character – being a randomly stepped cascade instead of one large plunge like its neighbor – most likely due to two factors: the smaller drainage and the difference in rock. Frontenac Falls is only about 1/3 of a mile from Cayuga Lake, while nearby Taughannock Falls is over a mile away. Taughannock Falls was once carving its way through this rock and probably once looked like Frontenac. Perhaps thousands of years from now Frontenac will take on Taughannock’s grandeur. Although not as spectacular as its cousin to the south, Frontenac Falls is an amazing gem that is worth visiting.

Rising to 95 feet, the falls lies in a beautiful amphitheater with peaceful woodlands topping the gorge. Before the waterfall, the creek bed opens up to a nice mix of smooth pebbles that allow you to walk with ease in front of the falls. The cliffs around the Frontenac Falls rise over 200 ft high, over twice the size of the waterfall, making you feel like you are enclosed within a massive canyon. The falls itself is a frothy A-shaped cascade with random drops over chiseled limestone. The surrounding moss-covered rock adds a splash of color. If ever made into a public park, Frontenac could easily become a favorite of many.

Frontenac Falls

Frontenac Falls Videos

None yet.

Hiking / Walking Trails

Difficulty: Easy.

Markings: None.

Distance: 2/3 mile there and back.

There is a 1/3 mile trail that is well defined through the woods that crosses the creek once on the way to the waterfall. Once at the waterfall, expect to do some creek walking to get to the base. With gorge walls of loose shale and limestone, rock falls are common, and extreme caution must be exercised when walking in the gorge. Since this is private property, we ask that you respect the land and the owners by seeking permission before you visit, follow all the rules and do not interfere with normal operations. Stick to the trails and do not cause any trouble that may lead the owners to close access for others.

Map: Interactive.

Frontenac Falls 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 Frontenac Falls – Camp Barton in a larger map

History

Frontenac Falls is apparently named for Louis de Buade de Frontenac, a governor of New France in the late 1600’s who made incursions into the area to fight with the Iroquois, specifically the Onondagas. Frontenac Island on Cayuga Lake also bears his name, which may be the result of French Jesuit priests who lived in Indian villages in the area and may have named places after the governor.

The waterfalls reside on Frontenac Point, which was an early trading stop for both Native Americans and white settlers in the area who found water routes much easier than trekking over land.

The falls and surrounding 300 acres remained in private hands until it became Camp Barton – once located at present day Taughannock Falls State Park. In 1927, the scout camp moved to its present location and has remained here ever since.

There has been speculation that the state may try to make Frontenac Falls into a state park in the near future. If and when that happens remains to be seen, but the acquisition seems to be a priority.

Interesting Stuff

Taughannock Gorge

The gorge to the south is three times bigger with the largest waterfall in the Northeast. Visit the State Parks if you haven’t already.

Photography Tips

Flow

  • The creek can dry in late summer and through dry autumns.  First drive to the overlook at Taughannock State Park and check the falls there. If those are dry, Frontenac is surely dry.

Shoot wide

  • Bring a wide angle lens.This falls is huge and you may not be able to back up enough to get it all in.

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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