Note: Most, if not all, of Vanbuskirk Gulf is on private property. Some sections are under conservation easements/preserves, but those too are private and not accessible to the public. Some access may be granted to sections of the Gulf by permit only. I cannot help you with obtaining one.
Location: South of the city of Ithaca; town of Newfield; Tompkins County; New York.
GPS: Former access point–Now POSTED: (N 42.32640 / W 76.55871)
Directions: Piper Rd, Vanbuskirk Rd, and Bower Roads are the main roads encircling the Gulf. My recommendation is to avoid trying to get into this place altogether. It’s not worth the trek to come out, get blocked by POSTED signs, or getting arrested for trespassing.
Parking: For those who obtain permits, you should also receive instructions for parking, which is a hidden dirt area off of Piper Rd.
There are no other parking/access locations, I’m aware of, that are publicly accessible.
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
Number of falls: Multiple waterfalls.
Size/Types: 3-25 ft in height.
Best time to visit: N/A
Waterway: VanBuskirk Gulf starts just southwest of here near Benjamin Hill. It cuts through the hillside here on its way to the valley below at Stratton. There it empties into the Cayuga Inlet. The Inlet travels 8.7 miles north, through the city of Ithaca and into Cayuga Lake.
Seasons/Hours: Not open to the public.
Admission: Access to the Ithaca College Natural Resources Reserve and the Robert “Bob” Robinson Family Preserve are by permit only.
In the past, requesting a permit was through the Ithaca College website and was free. That page, and any details about permits has all been removed.
Handicap Accessibility: No.
While it was a regular hiking place for many, VanBuskirk Gulf, found on the east side of the town of Newfield, is unfortunately no longer accessible.
It features a deep gorge stretching about a mile, filled with tall jagged cliffs and a variety of interesting waterfalls. While much of the land around belongs to homes and farm estates, Ithaca College owns a large (upwards of 40 acres) reserve west of the Gulf and Piper Rd. This “reserve” is for preservation and education of the college’s students. It’s not accessible to the public, nor does it have any access points to VanBuskirk Gulf.
On the east side of Piper Rd, and containing a large portion of VanBuskirk Gulf is the Robert “Bob” Robinson Family Preserve. Again, this leads people to believe the gorge is accessible. The Finger Lakes Land Trust maintains this preserve, in partnership with Ithaca College. The easement of the land, at this time, does not make it publicly accessible. It’s in a pretty complex situation. Currently, access to both preserves and the woods and waterfalls within that area are by permit only.
Vanbuskirk Gulf Interactive Map
The name most likely comes from Aaron Van Buskirk, who came to the area from Pennsylvania. He and wife, Susan Wagner, lived on a farm nearby.
VanBuskirk Falls Media
Who to Contact
No contact information
Ithaca College does not grant access permits.