The Winding Trails and Waterfalls of Robert H. Treman State Park

bridge over the creek in Enfield Glen, gorge trail, Robert H Treman State Park, Ithaca, New York

The winding trails and waterfalls of Robert H. Treman State Park treat visitors to the wild beauty of New York. This park includes twelve scenic waterfalls, six trails with scenic views, and so much more. The scenic highlight of the park is Enfield Glen, but swimming in the stream-fed pool beneath Lower Falls is a very cool option. The social media posts alone will make you want to plan a trip; but let me warn you, they don’t capture the gravitas of this park’s beauty.

The Winding Trails of Robert H. Treman State Park

There are nine miles of winding trails in this 1,110 acre state park that go through woods and rocky gorges. The Rim Trail will offer you views into Enfield Glen’s narrow gorge, sometimes 500 feet below. The spectacular Lucifer Falls can be viewed from the gorge trail and the scenic vistas on the rim trail. There are numerous waterfalls along the trails which can best be seen after heavy rains or in the spring.

What to expect on the trail

The trails are well marked with several areas to relax and enjoy nature. The entire hike changes elevation with several sections of stairs. Check out the photo of the Rim Trail sign below to see the elevations you’ll encounter. (The total elevation change of the Gorge Trail is 1035 feet!) All of the trails can be described as moderately difficult to strenuous; however, we did encounter several young children along the way that made it look like a “walk in the park,”

Note: Hikes are one way distances. For the Gorge and Rim Trail you must double the distance to get back to your original starting point. Trail Map from the state park website: https://parks.ny.gov/documents/parks/RobertHTremanTrailMap.pdf

Rim trail sign, map, Robert H Treman State Park, Ithaca, New York
  • Gorge Trail: 2.12 miles
  • Rim Trail: 2.09 miles
  • Red Pine Trail: 0.79 miles
  • CCC Memorial Trail: 0.49 miles
  • Finger Lakes Trail & North Country Trail: 5.15 miles

The Waterfalls of Robert H. Treman State Park

The two most notable waterfalls of the park are Lower Falls and Lucifer Falls. Other than Devil’s Kitchen, we cannot find a name for the other falls (anywhere!). With over 2,000 waterfalls in New York State, I guess it becomes difficult to name and catalog each one. Check out: The World of Waterfalls in New York

Lucifer Falls

Lucifer Falls is a 155 foot tall, multi-tiered, cascading waterfall. You can view it on the Gorge Trail and from the Rim Trail at scenic vistas (pictured). The elevated section of trail by Lucifer Falls gives visitors an opportunity to glimpse down the wooded gorge for about a mile and a half. The views across the wide open vista on top of the falls are breathtaking.

The cliff staircase by the falls has 222 beautiful stone steps. This staircase is a real work of art and one of the reasons we had to visit this park. If you have the energy, it’s worth the hike!

Lower Falls swimming area, Robert H Treman State Park, Ithaca, New York

Lower Falls

The Lower Falls are popular for their lifeguarded swimming area. This waterfall is also the most accessible if you’re in a crunch for time. It’s located right by the lower parking lot and it’s an easy walk. This is a popular spot to cool off and have some fun. The stream-fed pool at the base of the falls is dammed off to create the perfect place to jump off and swim.

The pool was closed when we visited. It was receiving some much needed repairs after a major storm created quite a bit of flood damage. Our visit was towards the end of the repairs and things were getting ready to re-open. We’ll definitely have to plan another trip to enjoy this adventure. As you can see from the photo, they did a stellar job!

Things to Know About Robert H. Treman State Park

The following quoted excerpts were taken directly from the state park website: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/135/

  • The gorge rock is about 380 million years old. “The rocks in Enfield Glen (the Treman gorge) are shale and sandstone formed in the Late Devonian era. The alternating layers represent repeated shifts in sea level, and make for excellent fossil-hunting.”
  • “The straight lines in the gorge are cracks that geologists refer to as joint lines. Many of the joint lines were formed from natural gas that vented up and out of the rocks many millions of years ago. They overlap throughout the region at near right angles giving the rocks a ‘quarried’ look.”
  • Do the Dragon Flies bite? “No! Gray petaltail dragonflies are common in the park between May and July, but rare throughout New York State. These dragonflies are harmless and unwary of humans and they will sometimes land on hikers who become startled and squat them away in alarm. If a dragonfly lands on you, stay calm and enjoy the interaction with a rare and beautiful specimen of New York wildlife.”
  • “The gorges, waterfalls, and pools at Robert H. Treman State Park and in the surrounding Finger Lakes Region were formed by retreating glaciers 10,000 years ago.” 
  • “Most of Robert H. Treman State Park is Hemlock-northern hardwood forest, a mixed forest in which hemlock is codominant with other tree species including sugar and red maple, yellow and black birch, red oak, white pine, black cherry and basswood. This type of forest can be home to wild turkeys, pileated woodpeckers, and black-throated green warblers.”
  • The Enfield Falls Mill and Miller’s House were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
  • The Old Mill that was built in 1839 was the center of the former hamlet of Enfield Falls. 

Visit Robert H. Treman State Park

  • 105 Enfield Falls Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850
  • NYS Website: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/135/
  • Open year round from dawn to dusk
  • Vehicle Entry Fees collected April 1st- November 30th, 6am-6:30pm
    • Car: $8
    • Non-commercial bus: $35
    • Commercial bus: $75
    • Free for Empire Pass Card holders
  • Camping available by reservation- Tent, RV and Cabin sites Visit: www.reserveamerica.com
  • Shelter & Pavilion rentals available May 1- October 31st, 10am-9pm
  • Additional Amenities: Playing Fields, Fishing, Grills, Hiking, Hunting, Showers
  • Most of the park’s trails are inaccessible in the winter due to dangerous conditions created by snow and ice. Visitors can view Lower Falls year-round.
  • Swimming is allowed in the lifeguarded area only
  • Pet Policy: “A maximum of two pets are allowed in campsites and day use areas unless prohibited by sign or directive. Pets are to be supervised at all times and either be crated or on a leash not more than 6-feet in length. Proof of rabies inoculation shall be produced if requested by staff. Pets are not permitted in playgrounds, buildings, golf courses, boardwalks, pools and spray-grounds or guarded beaches (this does not apply to service animals).”

Family Adventure Rating for Robert H Treman State Park ❤️❤️

Cost– State Parks are always a low cost adventure. If you’re within driving distance you only have minor travel expenses and the entry fee for your vehicle. A family of five can enjoy this park with the cost of some gas (possible tolls), entry fee, and a picnic lunch; creating as low cost a trip as allows for a full day adventure.

Parking & Transportation– Ithaca is a popular area and college town (most notable Cornell University and Ithaca College). If you don’t have your own transportation, Ithaca has it covered. There’s an international airport and coach bus transportation to and from major cities. Once you’ve arrived you have the option for car rentals, bike rentals, and taxi or ride share services. Parking is abundant throughout the area, but areas can fill up fast during peak visiting times.

Location– This location is top notch if you love nature and waterfalls. Ithaca boasts more than 100 waterfalls within ten miles of its downtown! You are also at the tip of the longest finger lake, Cayuga Lake. If you’re yearning for a little civilization, you can find some fun neighborhoods surrounding the colleges.

Day Trip or Overnight– There is so much to do and see in this area, I would suggest making it an overnight adventure. We stayed two days and only made a dent in the long list of places to explore. If you only have time for a day trip, then Robert H Treman State Park is a great choice.

Experience– It is always a good experience to get out and savor nature, especially with people you enjoy. Trips that include the types of scenery, history, and exertion that this state park offers are always memorable. The long trails lead to great conversations and the epic views inspire and motivate everyone to take more of an interest in the outdoors.

Combination– There is an endless collection of waterfalls and outdoor adventure to explore in this area. If you have the time here are some other areas of interest: Taughannock Falls State Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca Children’s Garden, Businessman’s Lunch Falls, Fall Creek Gorge Natural Area, Ithaca Commons and Cornell University Campus. For more ideas check out: www.visitithaca.com

Author: newyorkfamilyadventures

Momager, New Yorker, Travel Blogger, Actress, Martial Artist, Amateur Photographer, Writer, Conservationist

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