Story and photos by Daniella Zelikman
There’s so many gorges and waterfalls in and around Ithaca and after spending many an autumn afternoon exploring them, I’ve developed favorites that I can’t help coming back to. Unsurprisingly, I love going to Taughannock Falls. Plunging down 215 feet off a rocky cliff face, there’s nothing else like it and no matter how many times I see it, it never gets old. So, on another warm, cloudless Saturday afternoon, I visited it to catch up with Rachel, a friend I hadn’t seen in almost two years.
It never ceases to amaze me that less than twenty minutes away from my apartment, there’s something as beautiful as Taughannock Falls. Rachel and I arrive there in high spirits, excited to see each other and our favorite waterfall again.
While the falls are the main attraction, the walk to it is plenty interesting as well. The gorge trail takes you right up to the waterfall and is wide and flat, in places partially paved. It’s perfect for a casual stroll where we can discuss our lives and what we’ve missed in the past few years. The trail follows a river which at this point in the season is partially dried out. We step off the path for a little bit to walk along the rocky riverbed. The experience of walking where the river usually flows is surreal and I’m almost sad when we have to get back on the trail.
September, in my opinion, is the best time to come here. The trail is entirely shaded by tall trees, so even with the warm weather, it’s cool on the walk up to the falls and there’s an endless expanse of greenery to admire.
The waterfall is nothing short of amazing and being able to get so close to it is the best part. The spray kicked up by the falling water is refreshing after our long walk. Rachel and I admire the rushing and roaring splendor for a while before heading back to her car and the second part of our adventure: ice cream.
Further down NY-89 in Interlaken, not too far from Taughannock Falls, is Cayuga Lake Creamery, a small ice cream parlor offering dozens of homemade flavors. There are so many interesting and well-loved flavors to choose from that it’s almost difficult to pick one, but Rachel settles on a scoop of pistachio in a waffle cone and I take two scoops of spiced apple in a cup. We sit on a small deck attached to the creamery and enjoy the view and our ice cream. It’s absolutely delicious and pairs extremely well with an afternoon spent hiking.