Vien R. Guenther
Hiking at Buttermilk Falls - Finger Lakes Region, New York
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
If you haven't been to the Finger Lakes Region, you are missing something wonderful that nature has to offer. If you are into nature and want to escape the hustle and bustle of New York City, take note of this region. That is, if you haven't been there yet. The state of New York has plenty of state parks, state forests, wildlife areas, landmarks and historic sites. We only had two full days and we opted to see some of the great waterfalls in the Finger Lakes Region - Buttermilk Falls State Park, Taughannock Falls State Park, Watkins Glen State Park and the town of Montour Falls.
The Finger Lakes region is named after the area's eleven long, narrow lakes, which are oriented north to south and stretch from east to west. The map-makers in the early days saw these lakes as human fingers, hence the name. This region is one of the best places to visit in New York State when it comes to nature. Incredible waterfalls abound. The region is also known for its wines and wineries of which many are open for visitors. Considering the native history of the area, museums are plenty, recognizing the Seneca and Iroquois peoples, who lived in the Finger Lakes area even before the arrival of the Europeans. Fishing and other water sports are popular distractions in this tourist playground.
BUTTERMILK FALLS STATE PARK
Buttermilk is an unusual name for a waterfall, but it takes its name from its foamy water as it cascades down from the high ground above. The waterfall at the lower part of the park is impressive enough - you might want to just stay there. But taking the gorge trail is even better.
The Gorge Trail is short but steep in some parts, with lots of steps along the way. A pair of comfortable shoes is good enough, but that day the trail was wet and muddy from recent rains, so we wished we had brought along our hiking boots. Hermann and I had muddy shoes afterwards, but it was worth the hike, as you can see in the pictures.
The trail follows a series of ten waterfalls, each of them different, so you won't be able to resist stopping. We got lucky. According to some people we met from New Jersey, falls were almost completely dry the previous year. This day they were awesome.
It was a cold and gloomy day, but photographers, amateur or not, actually like overcast conditions like this. The autumn colors, although not at their peak, added to the stunning effect of the gorge and the waterfalls. Picture perfect, at least for us.
The trail ends at the parking lot at the top of the falls, but why stop there? We wanted to see the source of the falls, so we followed the trail all the way to Lake Treman. We then turned around and went back down along the Rim Trail on the other side of the creek. You won't see much of the waterfalls on this side, so be sure to take your photos along the Gorge Trail.
It was a beautiful hike, worth doing again if we ever get there again. "What is it like in the spring" I wondered? Since we started early, we still had plenty of time to visit the Taughannock Falls, just a short drive away. It got even better.