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The Hidden Waterfall at Taughannock Park

By: Len Dawson

Most people who live in Central New York have seen Taughannock Falls, but there is another waterfall at Taughannock Park, and if you haven’t seen it yet, then you’re in for a treat.

Hidden Taughannock Falls

Falls as seen from the railroad bridge

This second waterfall is best seen from an abandoned, but easily accessible railroad bridge that spans the gorge above the 212 foot main falls.      

Looking downstream from the bridge, you’ll have a nice view of the gorge above the main falls and of Cayuga Lake in the distance. Looking upstream from the bridge, you’ll see Taughannock Creek cascading down the other waterfall to pass under the bridge. When the water level in the creek is high, it’s an impressive sight.

There was once a train station near the bridge that was listed as “Taughannock Falls” on the old Lehigh Valley Railroad schedules1. Starting in 1896, a train called the Black Diamond Express crossed the bridge on its New York City to Buffalo route2. The black, diamond-shaped symbol represented the anthracite coal hauled by Lehigh Valley freight trains. The express, advertised in New York City newspapers as the “Handsomest Train in the World,” boasted fine dining in mahogany-paneled cars, and afternoon tea service3. A favorite choice of newlyweds going to Niagara Falls, it was affectionately known as the “Honeymoon Special,” and there is evidence to suggest that it stopped on the bridge so passengers could enjoy the view of the gorge and the upper falls.  

Since Taughannock Creek is nearly dry in the summer, the best time to view the waterfalls is during the late winter snow melt, or a day or two after a hard rain in the spring or fall, and be sure to wear shoes appropriate for walking a forest trail.  

Looking east toward Taughannock Falls
Looking east from the railroad bridge toward the main falls

The park is located at 2221 Taughannock Park Road, Trumansburg, NY 14886.

To get to Taughannock Falls State Park, take Route 89 along the west side of Cayuga Lake. You can park in the small lot across from the entrance to Taughannock Park and walk up the gorge, but most people prefer to view the falls from the overlook. To get to the overlook, take Taughannock Park Road, which is just north of the park entrance, and watch for the large paved parking lot a short drive up the hill on the left.  

To see the upper waterfall, proceed up the hill from the overlook to the end of Taughannock Park Road, turning left at the “T” onto Jacksonville Road and crossing the bridge. Pull into the small gravel parking area on the left immediately after crossing the bridge then follow the short path through the woods to the railroad trestle, which has been paved for pedestrian traffic. 

If the fresh air makes you hungry for a great hamburger, stop at nearby Glenwood Pines Restaurant to sample one of their famous Pinesburgers in their dining room overlooking Cayuga Lake. They grind their own burger on-site daily and it’s served on French bread with 1000 Island dressing. The Glenwood Pines restaurant is located a few miles south of the park on route 89, at 1213 Taughannock Boulevard.

 

Notes:

  1. Central New York Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, Inc.,
  2. “Rails North: Lehigh Valley Railroad”, (Marcellus, New York, 1971), Pg. 8
  3. Ibid., Pg 18
  4. Ibid., Pg 3


Page Photos by Len Dawson
Header Photos by F. J. Koger III
Illustrated layout by Susan Conklin