The Best Finger Lakes Hiking Trails

The Finger Lakes is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the United States. From dramatic gorges to plunging waterfalls, you’ll find yourself in a hiker’s paradise when visiting the Finger Lakes region!

Cascadilla Gorge Trail
If you’re calling Ithaca home while visiting the Finger Lakes, do not miss the Cascadilla Gorge Trail! Connecting downtown Ithaca to Cornell University, the Cascadilla Gorge Trail is one of the most picture-perfect gorges in the Finger Lakes region. Just 1/3 of a mile long, the trail ascends over 400 feet, where you’ll find yourself hiking trails & staircase, & in awe of 8 magnificent waterfalls. We visited just before sunset & had the park to ourselves.

Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen State Park is the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks. Known for its natural beauty, the Watkin Glens State Park features endless waterfalls & gorges. In less than 2 miles, you’ll hike by more beauty than you thought possible. Make sure to arrive early — we arrived just as the park opened, & we were one of the first groups to set out hiking.

Taughannock Falls State Park
Taughannock Falls plunges 215 feet, past rock cliffs & boulders. The gorge & rim trails offer amazing views from above & below. The park is extremely popular & can become very crowded — even by lunchtime! After hiking, we made our way across the street to Cayuga Lake for a perfect afternoon picnic. 

Buttermilk Falls State Park
Buttermilk Falls State Park is a 4.5 mile loop trail, where you’ll hike through woodlands & alongside a cascading waterfall. The gorge & rim trails offer amazing views of Buttermilk Creek, & if you’re feeling up for a swim, there’s a beautiful natural swimming pool — which is open during Covid!

Robert H Treman State Park
Robert H Treman State Park was our last hike while in the Finger Lakes region. We hiked the rim & gorge trail loop — about 4.5 miles, following the gorge past 12 waterfalls, including the 115 foot Lucifer Falls. Like Buttermilk Fall State Park, there is a natural swimming pool, but unfortunately it was closed during our visit.

Covid: We found almost everyone was respectful of the current Covid restrictions & wore a mask when social distancing wasn’t possible. We also found that most loop trails had been converted into one-way hiking trails, thereby reducing crowds.

Entrance Fees: All parks require an entrance fee of about $8. If you plan on visiting several parks in one day, hold onto your ticket because they remain valid for 24 hours!

What to Pack: Make sure to pack plenty of water & bug spray!

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