Originally published at GoFingerLakes.org
Nothing beats a refreshing swim on a hot summer’s day, especially when you are immersed in gorgeous scenery. New York State Parks provide access to safe swimming areas, often within sight of waterfalls, lake views, and other natural features. To boot, amenities such as picnic tables and restrooms facilitate easy outdoor adventures that can last all day! Leave the pool behind and cool off at these favorite natural spots, chosen by the staff at the Finger Lakes Land Trust.
The lakeside portion of this well-known park, known as Taughannock Point, extends nearly a quarter-mile into Cayuga Lake. It is home to a swimming beach, an abundance of picnic areas, and boat slips. Combine all these features with a popular campground and it’s not surprising that the park is bustling all summer long!
With nearly 20 miles of trails, old-growth forests, two pristine lakes, boat rentals, and a sandy swimming beach, there are numerous ways to get outside and enjoy Green Lakes State Park. At the heart of the 1,955-acre park, literally and figuratively, are two meromictic lakes — a unique condition where surface waters and deeper waters do not intermix.
Not every waterfall and gorge trail is located in Ithaca. Approximately twenty miles north, in the quiet village of Moravia, is another beautiful gorge park — Fillmore Glen. It features campgrounds, a swimming area, and of course a deep gorge with stunning waterfalls just like its southerly brethren: Buttermilk Falls, Robert Treman, Taughannock Falls, and Watkins Glen State Parks.
Robert Treman State Park has a swimming area, handsome stonework, and stunning waterfalls, including the dramatic 115-foot Lucifer Falls. Similar to Buttermilk Falls State Park, the swimming area is beneath a beautiful waterfall and is extraordinarily popular during the summer.
Once a naval base, this land was transferred to New York State in the 1960s, and its new life as a recreation park began. Hundreds of buildings were dismantled and much of the park is slowly reverting to woodland and fields. Today, a designated swimming area along Seneca Lake’s shoreline provides public access to the Finger Lakes’ largest lake.
Located just on the southern edge of Ithaca, Buttermilk Falls is a wildly popular spot for tourists and local residents, especially during the height of summer. Upon entering the park, newcomers quickly see why. Across a verdant lawn is a foaming and frothy waterfall with a deep pool and dammed swimming area below. While the base of the falls is chock-full of picnickers and swimmers, hikers can ascend the handsome stonework stairs for an endless supply of stunning waterscapes.
*Note that drought conditions and lifeguard shortages could affect hours of operation. Please check the official web site of each location before visiting.