Lucifer Falls

One of the most remarkable places in Ithaca, New York, is Robert H. Treman State Park (sometimes called Enfield Glen by locals in the know). My mom and I spent several very happy hours hiking and swimming in the park’s gorge a few days ago.


This park probably best known for the short hike to Lucifer Falls, a waterfall that cascades 115 feet down a steep rock wall and then careens down the glen in a series of small pools and further waterfalls. To get there, we hiked the upper section of the Rim Trail through the woods, up and down stairs masterfully built by FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) …


… past many scampering chipmunks …

fullsizeoutput_4516.jpeg… tiny berries …


… tree roots breaking through rocks …


… a plaque honoring the park’s original donors …


… and beautiful mountain flowers:




The Rim Trail offers overlooks down over the gorge …


… the falls …

… and the forest that stretches far along the park’s length:


After a three-quarter mile walk, the Rim Trail drops down to the gorge itself, where you can play around near the base of the falls …


… or continue down the Gorge Trail …


… to walk along the water (there’s no swimming here, but that doesn’t stop some people from hopping in anyway).


The walls of the glen are made up of shale and sandstone, all very fragile and continually eroding.


This gorge was formed after a glacier receded 10,000 years ago, and rushing waters have been cutting away at the soft rock walls ever since. The resulting sedimentary rock formations are stunning …


… but you don’t want to try climbing up more than a few feet of this crumbly stuff.


On the way back, the Gorge Trail runs straight along the water and up to Lucifer Falls.

Version 2

The many overlook ledges offer perfect spots for viewing and taking photos.


As you climb up, the whole scene starts to look like something out of Lord of the Rings, with steep staircases that look like they might drop to nowhere …


… long wooded gullies …


… and spectacular bridges:


You can’t help admiring the incredible (and durable) stonework of the CCC.



The walk becomes more and more shaded …


… as the upper Gorge Trail begins to come to an end.



Treman State Park doesn’t just have a gorge hike; it has camping spots and an old mill that you can explore. But the other real highlight of the park is the natural swimming hole! When summer arrives, you can go swimming in one of the most picturesque spots I’ve ever seen:


To get to the lower falls — and the swimming area — from top of the Lucifer Falls trails, you can either hike three miles downhill or drive. We chose the latter to take advantage of the waning daylight. You really want to get into the water while there’s still some sun, because this water is cold! But it’s an amazing swimming experience (that’s my mom there waving at the bottom)…


… complete with a diving board!


I can’t recommend a visit here highly enough — it’s an amazing park. And it’s nestled into an area filled with beautiful farmland …


… including old barns …


… and the Newfield Covered Bridge:

fullsizeoutput_45e5.jpegAs the sign says, this is the oldest covered bridge still in use in New York State:


Restored in the 1950s, this 115-long span presents an impressive view …


… especially when you look at the construction inside (this trusswork is done in the Town Lattice pattern, which was patented in 1820 by an architect from New Haven).


The Newfield Covered Bridge is fun to see (you can also drive through it) — it’s well worth a quick diversion off of the main road.



2 responses to “Lucifer Falls

  1. Pingback: The Tallest Single-Drop Waterfall East of the Rockies | Traveler Tina·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s