Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Taughannock Falls State Park

Due to the benevolence of a dear friend, the Rugged Mountain Man and I were recently able to get away – just the two of us – to Ithaca, NY. We discovered Taughannock Falls State Park as a fantastic couples AND family destination. (“Taughannock” is pronounced, “Tuh-GAN-ick.”) Based on how much we liked it (read: were THRILLED with it), we do hope to take the Blossoms back there to experience the amazing geology and waterfalls.

I was most impressed by how short the hikes were. I often tell folks that I like hikes with a difficulty level of 5, with a 9 on aesthetic value. Of course, I’m referring to a scale of 1-10. This state park gets a 9.5 by my rating system!
 (I know it's a funky angle, but the Upper Falls is surprisingly difficult to photograph
since it can only be viewed from the bridge above it.)

Since there were no Blossoms in tow, we just hiked all trails. Hey, we used to be known as Hikemon and Hikewoman, so this was no surprise that we were returning with vigor to our desire to go-go-go out in the Great Outdoors. Plus, God really blessed us with beautiful weather.  We were so thankful for that.

 Upper Gorge, as viewed from above
We combined the North Rim Trail and the South Rim Trail for a hike of approximately 2.5 miles. Then, the Gorge Trail added another 1.5 miles for a total of 4 miles of hiking. We saw the falls and gorges from every angle.  Additionally, we were able to look down into the Upper Gorge, a beautiful canyon entirely inaccessible to people, a fact that I found totally fascinating.  (Most natural beauty I've glimpsed in my life has been places that people can touch, change and access.  I like the fact that it was inaccessible.  It was beauty God put there, just for beauty's sake.) 
 (View from the Rim Trail.)

Let me just give you the rundown on hiking Taughannock Falls State Park with children.
The Gorge Trail is 1.5 miles, round trip and is extremely STROLLER friendly. You get to see the (main) Taughannock Falls from its base and the Lower Falls. The trail boasts astounding beauty with very easy access.

 View of Taughannock Falls from the Gorge Trail
 Standing there, my throat ached with the sheer splendor.  God is big and His Creation reflects His grandeur. 
The North Rim Trail and the South Rim Trail follow the rim around the top of the gorge. You glimpse the Lower Falls, the (main) Taughannock Falls and the Upper Falls from the rims of the gorge. I think we could do these trails with our 2 year old in a pack (her walking part of the way) and the 5, 8 and 10 yr olds hiking. I have no doubt they could handle the steep staircases that begin the trail. However, if you just wanted to see the jaw-dropping view and be done with it, there’s a visitor center in progress and a terrific overlook that you can drive to. See what I mean about super kid friendly?
View of Taughannock Falls from the Overlook on the Rim Trail/parking area 

View of the Lower Falls from the beginning of the Gorge Trail
 Since we do hike fairly often with our crew, we’re pretty aware of what they can handle (when armed with water and lots of granola bars.)

The Rugged Mountain Man and I were enthralled by this state park. 

We later discovered that it's rated amongst the nation's top state parks.  I can totally see why.  We were invigorated by the beauty, fresh air and our time together in God's Creation.