Cascadilla Gorge: Ithaca's Most Traveled Gorge

This 3/4 -mile trail follows Cascadilla Creek past six waterfalls.

Cascadilla Gorge: Ithaca's Most Traveled Gorge

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Cornell Botanic Gardens

Tour Information

Welcome to Cascadilla Gorge—a "gorges" display of rock, water, plants, and animals. From here you can discover how water has shaped this gorge environment and what it takes to maintain trails within this unique landscape.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

In addition to traversing steep stairs in this "lower" section of Cascadilla Gorge, the trail continues on the other side of College Avenue and follows Cascadilla Creek along a much flatter grade to a scenic footbridge and waterfall. This t... Read more
Notice the “stair-step” shape of this waterfall. The gorge bedrock consists of two types of sedimentary rocks: shale and sandstone. The flakier and softer shale is more extensively eroded away by the water of Cascadilla Creek compared t... Read more
  These scenic waterfalls look inviting during warm weather, but are dangerous even when little water flows over them. For your safety, please remain in the trail. Swimming is not permitted in the gorge.     
There are two distinct plant habitats in this relatively small gorge. The slope next to you does not receive direct sunlight because it faces north. Plants that prefer shade and moist soil such as ferns, mosses, purple flowering raspberry, ... Read more
Look above to the rim on the opposite side of the gorge for the Adirondack-style gazebo precariously perched on a pinnacle of bedrock. This pinnacle was formed as a result of “architectural jointing,” meaning the rock was eroded along t... Read more
This bridge was built during the construction of the gorge’s original stone staircases and paths between 1927 and 1931. Cascadilla Gorge was donated to the care of Cornell University by local philanthropist Robert H. Treman in 1909 for ed... Read more
Maintaining trails, railings, and other structures requires constant upkeep by Cornell Botanic Gardens staff. During heavy rain events, water often floods the trails, damaging stonework. Beginning in 2008, the gorge was closed for seven yea... Read more
Notice the alternating layers of blocky sandstone and thinner, flaky layers of shale of the gorge walls. These sedimentary rocks were formed during the Devonian Period, 410 – 360 million years ago, when a shallow, inland ocean covered muc... Read more
This side of the gorge is facing south and receives direct sunlight. Plants that prefer these sunbaked and drier areas include fragrant sumac, blackberry bushes, oaks, hickories, and forget-me-nots. Scroll the images above to help you ident... Read more
The gate here was built to close the gorge during winter months, when it is not safe to hike in the gorge due to ice-covered trails. As wonderful and beautiful as our gorges and natural areas are, exploring them isn’t risk free. You can h... Read more
Cascadilla Creek has been eroding this gorge since the retreat of the most recent glacier over 15,000 years ago. As the glacier advanced, it transformed shallow river valleys into deep and narrow lakes, today known as the Finger Lakes. The ... Read more
From here, Cascadilla Creek flows through the City of Ithaca for ¾-mile to reach Cayuga Lake. The name “Cayuga” acknowledges the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' (the Cayuga Nation) one of the six members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, who tradi... Read more


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