Updated: Nov 27, 2021
Is this your first time visiting the Finger Lakes? You're in for a special treat. The hiking in this area is absolutely phenomenal. Whether you're looking for an easy one, or one with a little more of a challenge (and lots of stairs!), the Finger Lakes has something to offer.
If you've been to the Finger Lakes before, you WILL find a hike on this list that you haven't done yet! (Or maybe you didn't do the whole thing). Check it out! How many have you been to?
6. Great Gully – Aurora NY
Pros – This is an easy and beautiful hike through a gorge. The reward at the end of the walk is a beautiful little waterfall where you can swim in the pool, go behind the falls into a little cave, or swing on the rope swing. If you’re daring you can climb the side of the gorge walls to the top and explore further or pose for a picture at the top.
Cons – If you go on a weekend, try to go early otherwise this place is usually PACKED. Please remember to pack in and pack out, otherwise large amounts of trash pile up on the trail throughout the year.
5. Fillmore Glen State Park – Moravia, NY
Pros – Another scenic hike, this trail is moderate and provides views of the gorge, forest, and a cute little dam. When the gorge trail in particular is open, it’s a treat to walk in the water and look at the amazing stone geometry the water has cut over time.
Cons – The gorge trail has been closed for 2 years and while the rim trail is nice (as stated above) nothing compares with actually being in the gorge itself. Hopefully it will open up again in the near future!
4. Buttermilk State Park – Ithaca, NY
Pros – This hike is a top favorite amongst Finger Lakes locals! Along the hike, you get to see all the waterfalls up close and personal and take in the beauty of the gorge. Although the hike can be a little daunting at first, once you get into the gorge the trail is easy to navigate and all the falls are near to each other, providing many opportunities for stunning photos! The natural pool at the bottom of the falls is a great way to cool off after your walk and the grounds provide several picnic tables and a playground for visitors to enjoy. Go with friends or family and pack a bathing suit and picnic for the ultimate summer day.
Cons – Because Gorges are all waterfalls carved into a mountain, you have to go up before you can see anything. Even experienced hikers get winded doing the uphill part of this trail! But the view really is worth it at the end!
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3. Robert H. Treman State Park -Ithaca NY
Pros – This hike is absolutely awesome! You have the gorge portion, then the giant waterfall, and lots of flora and fauna to look at! This hike has by far one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the area and it has a cool name too, Lucifer Falls! Like Buttermilk, there’s access to the natural pool at the bottom of the lower falls so definitely bring your bathing suit if you go during the summer.
Cons – this is another moderate difficulty hike. There are a lot of uphill portions that make this a little tougher than others but well worth the effort!
2. Taughannock Falls State Park – Trumansburg, NY
Pros – A crowd-pleaser, this hike is just under 2 miles roundtrip and features one of the most amazing waterfalls in Upstate NY. Taughannock Falls clocks in at 215 feet tall making it taller than Niagara Falls! Locals love walking through the gorge and playing in the water during the summer time. With the water being too low to swim in, walking through the gorge is an excellent way to see the sights and stay refreshed during the summer. Almost EVERYONE can do this hike, from babies to grandparents. It’s doable for everyone! Not to mention if you don’t feel like walking, that’s ok! There’s an amazing overlook to enjoy just across from the falls.
Cons – Because it is a family friendly hike, this trail is often very packed! It’s recommended that hikers try to do it in the early morning on weekends or on a weekday.
1. Watkins Glen State Park – Watkins Glen, NY
Pros – The trail, the waterfalls, the secret tunnels, we could go on and on about how amazing this hike is! It’s actually more like a nice walk than a hike but it is doable for most people. Because it is in a gorge, you do have to start the trail by going up but you quickly get too distracted by the waterfalls to remember you are going uphill. This hike is family friendly and offers plenty of benches as you go along to sit, relax, and enjoy the beauty around you! If you had to do only one hike in NY, this one would be it! You get to see multiple waterfalls, plants, and animals all in the course of a 3 mile walk.
Cons – The park closes in early fall so be sure to visit over the summer or before October to see the leaves change!