Rainbow Falls State Park

I know I am playing catch-up from summer activities but that is what happens when you have an infant. Last month when my brother and sister-in-law met Zach (see:Zachary: 2 Months for more) we decided to go on a family hike. Rainbow Falls State Park is about thirty to forty five minutes from where we live.

When we got through the main gate and parked we started sunscreen, bug spray, leashed both dogs and put Zach in the carrier. We walked towards the falls ready for a hike. But there was no hiking along the river or by the five foot fall. Instead Matt and Stina followed a short path to the river bank and across a few rocks to get a closer view. We saw several families swimming and eating lunch at the waterfront.

Confused by the lack of trails, we went back to the gate and were told to drive to the other side of the river. So, we packed everyone back in the car and found parallel parking across the highway from a small trail-head entrance.

The hiking paths were all different distance loops connecting to each other. We took one and figured we would on the way decide if we wanted to keep going or not. The trail was quiet and beautiful with speckled sunlight coming through the pines and the ground was covered in ferns and moss. Even in early July the it was muddy in a few places requiring a planks.

We climbed a slight elevation and down as well as hit a few turns along the way. It was not a high exertion trip which was probably good as this was my first real exercise since having Zach. To sum up it was a nice walk but we have similar views from our flat property at home. I would not probably visit this park again, but find a closer hiking trail with longer straighter routes and maybe a waterfall worth exploring.

Still it was great to get outside and spend time with family.

 

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Our First Camping Trip: part one

Although Luke and I have been together for more than 3 years we have never been camping just the two of us. So this summer we are staying local and enjoying some of the amazing sites here in upstate New York.

Luke took off work June 20th-June 24th and we reserved a camping spot at Tauhannock Falls State Park outside of Ithaca. After several trips to Walmart for supplies, we packed up and left after Luke got off work on June 19th. We found our site, ate dinner and set up camp just before it got dark then enjoyed some hot cocoa and looking at the stars.

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Saturday we enjoyed coffee from the percolator and decided what our day of  exploring would look like. With more coffee in to-go cups, we started the morning with a drive up the West side of Cayuga lake, it was a beautiful day as we passed by small towns wineries, cideries, and farms. We picked up some free firewood along the roadside then made a plan to head back down towards Ithaca to explore Alan Tremen State Park.

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By having a campsite at one of the state parks entrance into the other parks for the duration of camping was free. I’d looked into the local waterfalls and gorges we had yet to explore in the area and found Alan Tremen State Park. When we arrived we parked the car and explored the welcome center and historic Old Mill.  Because of the waterways in the 1800’s a large Mill was made here using the water to power to mill’s grinders for production of flour and buckwheat. Luke and I enjoyed exploring the three story workings of this old mill with a back porch view to a beautiful waterfall. We set up a snack lunch along the water in prep for our hike along the gorge trail.

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We got a small way down the gorge trail path before realizing that it was going to dead-end because of repairs and construction. We decided instead to take the North rim trail to where we could see an outlook over Lucifer Falls; although it was not a clear shot it gave us a better ideas of the gorge trail. We walked back to the car deciding this was definitely a place to return to once repairs were done.

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our glimpse of Lucifer Falls

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We then drove back up to Tauhannock State Park and up the hill to a outlook for the Tauhannock Falls. This gave us a almost bird-eye view of the tremendous thundering falls. It is here the the north rim trail of the fall gorge area ends.

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Afterwards we drove back to our campsite to regroup then walked down to the trail for the Tauhannock Falls gorge. Unlike most of the gorge trails in the area this one stays open year round; the pathway is wide and flat so people were bringing strollers and wheelchairs down the path easily. Many people wore swimsuits stopped somewhere along the trail to dip their feet (or more) into the river as we headed upstream towards the falls.

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At the end of the path you turn a corner and there is Tauhannock Falls; crossing a bridge over the roaring river you come to a picture/spot and standing area. The falls are so large that you don’t have to get too close to the edge of the viewing area to get covered in a rain like mist. Fortunately we came near the end of the day so taking picture without mass amounts of people was easy.

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After the walk back to the campsite we were ready to settle in for the night. We finished off our first full day of camping with some pre-made shrimp pasta, games of cribbage, and a campfire with s’mores for dessert.

Stayed tuned for Part Two of our Camping trip

Walkins Glen State Park=Gorge-ous

This past weekend we decided to take advantage of these days of amazing weather and get outdoors. As I mentioned last week (see Racefever and local BBQ) Walkins Glen is well known for it’s racetrack. But it also the base for Seneca Lake and many natural waterfalls, most of which are found in Walkins Glen State Park.

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We have driven through town and past the state park many times but hadn’t taken the time to explore it. For eight bucks we parked our car in the bottom lot and walked toward the entrance to the Gorge Trail.

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Unlike other state parks trails I’ve explored, the beauty and photo worthy views start at the very beginning. Out of the side of the mountain you can see the first of 19 waterfalls flowing down under a walking bridge. To enter the Gorge Trail you climb a set of stairs through the rock wall and across the bridge. The tourist buses actually drive to the south or upper entrance and then guide guests down to the lower entrance, this way the tourist get some of the best views last.

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The following path is a slow incline of several step-ups and sets of stairs. The concrete and stone paths are wet and muddy in places as waterfalls flow from both the left rock path and the right gorge view.

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Only so many words can describe the many breathtaking views. The further up we went the less congested it became until we reached the suspension bridge which crosses the gorge over to the aouth entrance where there is a lodge, restaurant, snack bar, and public swimming pool.

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We chose to finish the Gorge Trail.  As we ascended, we reached a set of rail road tracks set high above the gorge. A historical sign indicated it used to have a steel reinforced beam centered in the Gorge’s waterway but it was destroyed in a 1930’s flood. The bridge is now reinforced on either side of the Gorge instead.  We came to the upper entrance by late afternoon. Taking a break to get water, we looked around. Probably the smallest of entrances, it boasts only a bathroom, snack bar with outdoor picnic tables, and playground.

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When we were ready, we decided to take the Indian trail (one of the two rim trails) back down. I am sure this trail would be beautiful to walk again during the fall foilage. We traced the gorge and water down hill on the right, passing hill sides full of trees on the left.

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We cut back to the Gorge Trail for the last .25 mile and got one last chance to take a few pictures of the beautiful waterfalls without the foot traffic  (the tour /shuttle buses had stopped running).

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In all it was a beautiful afternoon outing and we left right before the sun began to set.

What did you do last weekend?