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Complete Guide To Visiting Buttermilk Falls State Park NY

Complete Guide To Visiting Buttermilk Falls State Park NY

Frothing waterfalls, jagged gorges and natural beauty in abundance are the highlights of a gorge trail day hike at Buttermilk Falls State Park in the popular Finger Lakes region of New York.

Buttermilk Falls State Park is much smaller than nearby Robert H Treman State Park and its signature hike, the Buttermilk Falls Gorge and Rim loop trail is a fraction of the distance compared to the Robert Treman 5 mile loop.

That means less time hiking and more time admiring the scenic Buttermilk Creek.

In our detailed guide, we will show you:

  • Where to find Buttermilk Falls State Park
  • Entrance fee and parking at information
  • 10 best things to do at Buttermilk Falls
  • Buttermilk Falls State Park hiking trails
  • Best time of year and day to visit
  • Where to eat and stay nearby
  • Tips for your visit

By the end of this guide, you will know exactly what to expect when visiting Buttermilk Falls State Park in upstate NY.

Now, let’s hike the Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail!

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Table of Contents show

Our Buttermilk Falls State Park Experience

People posing for a photo along the Gorge trail at Buttermilk Falls State Park
Mark and Kristen hiking Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail

Why trust us to help with planning your visit to Buttermilk Falls?

Well, for starters Kristen is a Finger Lakes native, growing up in a small town near Ithaca. We also temporarily lived in the region when Mark first moved to the US in 2019 so we have hiked Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail several times.

Having traveled the US extensively, we think the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is one of the most striking places to visit in America.

This region offers a myriad of gorgeous topography and a fabulous wine scene not to mention it’s one of the best places in the US to experience vibrant colors of the fall foliage.

While we no longer live in the area, Kristen’s family still lives in upstate New York and we always return to this beautiful area several times a year.

Our Buttermilk Falls travel guide features photos from a September 2020 and April 2023 visit so you can compare both spring and fall season.

What Can You Expect From This Guide?

This comprehensive first time visitor guide covers everything you need to plan the perfect visit to Buttermilk Falls State Park in upstate New York.

You will find information about parking and entrance fees, a walk through of the entire Rim and Gorge Trail loop, camping information as well as nearby hotel and restaurant options.

Our main focus is to provide you with hiking and photography insights along the spectacular Gorge Trail at Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca NY.

We want you to be fully prepared so you can make the most of your visit to Buttermilk Falls State Park Gorge.

Love NY State Parks? Don’t miss our guide to the best New York State Parks featuring tips only a local would know!

Buttermilk Falls State Park Factfile

  • State Park: Buttermilk Falls
  • City: Ithaca
  • State: New York
  • Address: 112 E Buttermilk Falls Rd
  • Telephone: (607) 273-3440
  • Campgrounds: 25
  • Cabins: 18
  • Area: 811 Acres
  • Things To Do: Hiking, swimming, waterfalls, photography, camping
  • Major Waterfall: Buttermilk Falls (165 ft high cascade)
  • Open: All year (gorge trail closed in winter)
  • Annual Visitors: ~200,000

The park’s namesake Buttermilk Falls is a 165 ft high cascade waterfall with multiple tiers, bursting out of a wooded hill like a waterslide made of rock.

However, the most captivating area of this family friendly park lies further upstream, where sharply twisting ravines have eroded due to the perpetual flow of water plummeting towards Cayuga Lake.

Where Is Buttermilk Falls State Park?

Buttermilk Falls State Park is ideally situated just 3 miles from central Ithaca, NY.

Ithaca is the perfect base for exploring Buttermilk Falls, as well as Robert H Treman, Taughannock Falls and even Watkins Glen State Parks as part of a wider Finger Lakes road trip.

From downtown Ithaca, simply follow NY-13A South for around 10 minutes until you see signs for Buttermilk Falls State Park.

The park entrance is straight ahead as you turn off NY-13A S.

Buttermilk Falls Google Maps Location.

Driving Distances And Airports

Let’s take a quick look at driving distances and times to Buttermilk Falls State Park from nearby major cities as well as the closest airports to Buttermilk Park for you to consider if visiting from further afield.

Buttermilk Falls distance from nearby major cities:

  • Binghamton, NY – 52 miles (1h 5m)
  • Syracuse, NY – 58 miles (1h 5 m)
  • Rochester, NY – 90.5 miles (1h 45 m)
  • Scranton, PA – 110 miles (2h 0m)
  • Buffalo, NY – 160 miles (2 h 55m)
  • Albany, NY – 160 miles (3h 10 m)

Waterfalls and wineries draw visitors to New York’s Finger Lakes, particularly in summer and fall.

Search for your flights using the best search engine, Skyscanner. We love this platform because it compares prices on all flight platforms to find you the best deal.

The same goes for renting a car when you get to a New York airport. Get a benchmark price using Rental Cars or Discover Cars and then see if you can beat it.

If you are flying into the Finger Lakes region, you might like to read our expert tips on how to find cheap flights to secure the best deals.

Here are the closest airports near Buttermilk Falls State Park:

  • Ithaca Tompkins International Airport (ITH) – 7miles (15m)
  • Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR) – 67 miles (1h 20m)
  • Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) – 97 miles (1h 50m)

Heading to the Finger Lakes? Don’t miss our guide featuring the best things to do in the NY Finger Lakes including popular places to visit!

Buttermilk Falls Entrance Fee And Parking

Woman getting into her SUV at the Buttermilk Falls main parking lot
Main gravel parking lot for Buttermilk Falls State Park

Visitors do not pay an entrance fee to gain entry into Buttermilk Falls State Park.

In addition, you do not need a reservation to enter Buttermilk Falls State Park. It is free to enter from dawn to dusk during open season for as long as you desire.

But while Buttermilk Falls State Park is free to enter, you will pay US$ 9 for parking your vehicle (from 1 April through 30 November 6:00am – 6:30pm).

Payment is not taken at the gate but at a machine where you can pay cash or card.

Let’s take a look at official parking areas and our tips on how you can beat the crowds when parking.

Buttermilk Falls Lower Entrance Parking (And Overflow)

Overflow parking lot at Buttermilk Falls State Park near Ithaca New York
Overflow parking lot at Buttermilk Falls State Park

Parking at Finger Lakes State Parks can be challenging on weekends between spring and fall, particularly on holiday weekends. Plan accordingly and arrive early if possible to avoid the chaos.

When we visited Buttermilk State Falls on Labor Day, there was a line of at least 10 cars waiting on a one-in one-out basis. We almost gave up but it turns out you can use an overflow parking lot 1 minute drive away.

So, if you ever find yourself in a long line to enter, turn around and head back to NY-13A, turn left (away from Ithaca) and drive for 15-20 seconds, take the very first left turn and you’ll find the overflow car park on your right.

Once you’ve paid at the ticket machine, all you need to do is walk across the road and down a short path to the park entrance.

The main car park (and overflow) are situated at the lowest elevation of Buttermilk Falls State Park, which means you will ascend first before looping around and descending back to the entrance.

Buttermilk Falls Upper Entrance Parking

Green pay to park machine inside a New York State Park
Green paid parking meter seen in most NY State Parks

Your other alternative is to park at the upper entrance parking lot, which locals tend to use. You will then begin the Gorge or Rim hike at the highest elevation, descend first and loop back with an ascent to Upper entrance.

There is a further hike beginning at upper entrance to Lake Treman on Bear Trail. The parking lot is much smaller but could be a good option on a busy day.

To reach upper entrance from Ithaca, instead of driving NY-13A S, take Spencer Road to Stone Quarry Road and W King Road.


Buttermilk Falls Waterfall

Ithaca NY State Park Buttermilk Falls Main Entrance waterfall running dry
The beautiful Buttermilk Falls waterfall (with low water levels in September)

When you first enter the State Park you can’t miss 165ft high Buttermilk Falls flanked heavily on both sides by dense and overgrown trees. 

The name Buttermilk was derived from the water’s creamy and foaming appearance as it cascades down the huge wide open angled slab of rock into a refreshing pool, perfect for jumping in on a hot day.

It’s difficult to see from the bottom, but the falls are multi layered and twist around the gorge as it disappears from view.

If you visit in fall after a summer drought like we did, you won’t find more than a trickle running down Buttermilk Falls’ giant tiered rock face.

But in spring and early summer, Buttermilk Falls is much more lively and impressive as you can see from our April photo below.

Front on view of Buttermilk Falls in April
A much more powerful Buttermilk Falls in April

Enjoy waterfalls? Don’t miss our popular guide to the best waterfalls in Upstate New York.

10 Best Things To Do At Buttermilk Falls State Park

If you are looking for things to do at Buttermilk Falls, this state park has something for the entire family. This is a very popular spot for swimming because of the beautiful natural pool.

Here are 10 things you can do at Buttermilk Falls State Park:

  1. Have a BBQ
  2. Go camping
  3. Rent a pavilion
  4. Try your luck fishing
  5. Hike any of the 7 trails
  6. Hunt for deer in bow season
  7. Enjoy a game in the play field
  8. Let the kids run on the playground
  9. Take a dip in the natural swimming pool
  10. Learn on the Buttermilk Falls Gorge Tour

You can find more information about a Buttermilk Falls hunting permit here.

Buttermilk Falls State Park Trails

Hiking is one of main attractions at Buttermilk Falls State Park and there are a total of seven Buttermilk Falls hiking trails.

The most popular hike at Buttermilk Falls is the the Gorge Trail which is 0.65 miles one way. This Gorge Trail is often combined with the Rim Trail (0.82 miles) to make a 1.47 mile loop.

Here are the seven Buttermilk Falls hikes (distances are one way):

  1. Bear Trail (BT) – 0.67 miles
  2. Finger Lakes Trail Spur (FLTS) – 1.15 miles
  3. Gorge Trail (GT) – 0.65 miles
  4. Larch Meadow Trail (LM) – 1.02 miles
  5. Lake Treman Trail (LT) – 1.29 miles
  6. Owl Creek Trail (OC) – 0.80 miles
  7. Rim Trail (RT) – 0.82 miles

If you have already hiked the Rim and Gorge Trail Loop, you should try hiking some of the other Buttermilk Falls trails.

Use this Buttermilk Falls State Park trail map here to find new trails.

Hiking Tip: Many people hike up the Gorge Trail and then follow the same trail back through the park, but it can be extremely congested in summer. Use the other trails to escape the crowds.

Buttermilk Falls State Park Gorge And Rim Trail Loop Hike

Let’s walk through a hike taking Rim trail and gaining elevation to the top, before looping round and hiking down Gorge trail back to the entrance.

The Rim Trail begins around 50 meters from Buttermilk Falls in the main parking lot and the Gorge Trail ends on the opposite side of Buttermilk Falls.

Buttermilk Falls Gorge and Rim Trail Loop distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip

Hiking difficulty rating: Moderate

You can check out the recent comments on AllTrails to see what hikers have recently said about Gorge and Rim Trail Loop hiking conditions.

Difficulty is listed as moderate because portions of the Rim Trail are steep and you will encounter numerous stairs along the Gorge Trail.

The turning point from Gorge and Rim Trail Loop will be at the Upper Entrance where you can continue along Bear Trail to Lake Treman.

By including Bear Trail and the Lake Treman loop you will add a further 2.63 miles to your total distance.

We hiked this additional route last time we visited Buttermilk so we will show you how to complete the loop later in this guide.

Without further ado, let’s climb through Buttermilk Gorge…

1. Grind Out The Steep Rim Trail Ascent

Entrance to the Rim trail at Buttermilk Falls State Park
Entrance to Rim Trail at Buttermilk Falls State Park

Begin your hike up Rim trail in the main parking lot not far from the block of restrooms.

We are going to upfront with you here, hiking up Rim trail is surprisingly grueling and not a huge amount of fun. It’s only a short hike in total but you have to gain 600 feet in 3/4 mile.

Stick with it though, returning on Gorge trail is worth the initial effort.

It was hot and humid the afternoon we scrambled up Rim Trail at Buttermilk Falls in September and we were a bit gutted the swimming pool had closed for the season.

You will walk along muddy dirt paths through sun blocking canopy as you gain elevation and follow the creekside. Be careful of tree roots and large stones sticking out of the ground.

Rim trail climbing quite steeply and through lovely forested land
The wooded section of the Buttermilk Falls Rim Trail ascent

Much of the Rim Trail looks similar to our photo above so we will focus on the best parts of the Gorge Trail which is truly the highlight of this park.

The trail starts steeper and gradually flattens out as you get higher. There are a few areas you can see down into the gorge but you can’t really take any good photographs from the Rim trail.

Poor angles, dim light and overgrown vegetation prevent clean views. There is also a bridge you can cross in Gorge Trail to cut the hike short, but you will miss the best section of Gorge Trail.

2. Arrive At Upper Gorge Trail Entrance

Entrance to the upper section of Buttermilk Falls State Park
A section of the Rim Trail near upper Gorge will pass by the main road

Eventually you will reach a twisting road corkscrewing its way through the forest. Upper entrance is directly across the road but you will cross the bridge over Buttermilk Creek to your right instead.

Bear Trail to Treman Lake is to your left, but we will take the right onto Gorge Trail for the purpose of this walkthrough.

The upper parking lot driveway can also be seen in this photo so if you want to descent into the Gorge, use this parking lot when visiting Buttermilk.

Be careful as you make your way down the stone staircase especially after rain because the steps can become a bit slippery.

2. Top Half Of The Stunning Gorge Trail Descent

Bridge marking the turnaround point to access gorge trail from rim trail at buttermilk falls state park Ithaca ny
The beautiful stone bridge at Buttermilk Falls State Park

It’s time reap the rewards for thrashing out the steep Rim trail climb.

As you descend the first few steps you will notice the stone bridge you just crossed is extremely attractive, but it’s about to get a whole lot better.

Stone staircase next to gorge in Ithaca ny
A stone staircase cascading down to the Gorge Trail

The top section of the Gorge Trail begins with the creek narrowing and features sharp shelf-like edges combined with smooth and soft bowl shaped pools.

Although the water flow is lighter in fall, it allows greater depth of detail throughout the eroded sandstone rocks to be appreciated.

Several small cascading waterfalls in Buttermilk Gorge
Stunning waterfall cascades at Buttermilk Gorge

When you visit in the spring, the water levels will be much higher making the beautiful pools filled to the brim.

The gorge is incredibly scenic and ornate stone staircases add a lost world element to the environment, making it perfect for photographers.

Stunning waterfall and pools on gorge trail in buttermilk falls state park Ithaca ny finger lakes
Multiple pools along the Gorge Trail at Buttermilk Falls

This second photo was taken in September when the water levels are lower, but it means you have the chance to admire the various striking features of the gorge.

3. Admire The Small Waterfalls + Plunge Pools

Before long you will reach the most beautiful part of Buttermilk Creek. Water snakes intricately through the gorge, carving through dark rock and plunging gently from shelf to shelf.

Look at how the deep green foliage of early fall contrasts wonderfully against the dark and sharp rock formations.

Epic gorge and waterfalls with plunge pools on gorge trail at buttermilk falls state park Ithaca ny finger lakes
Our favorite section along the Gorge Trail

Small but surprisingly deep pools are easily accessible from the main Gorge hiking trail.

Several signs warn against swimming and we recommend you save your swimming for the life guarded natural pool located near the main Buttermilk Falls (open in July-August).

The no swimming signs are in place for a reason to protect us and the environment. Please keep in mind there have been numerous casualties at Buttermilk Falls State Park.

Always stay on the path because while it might not look like it, water levels can be extremely dangerous inside the park.

4. Bottom Half Of The Gorge Trail Descent

Pulpit Rock and Gorge Trail at Buttermilk Falls State Park
The stunning stone walkway through Buttermilk Falls State Park

The bottom section of Gorge trail takes you past intriguing rock formations such as Pulpit Rock, which do make you wonder how they survived.

In truth, the bottom half is less dramatically and visually stunning so plan to spend more time at the upper section.

But with that said, the lower section of the Gorge trail is often quieter for this reason so it might be a good place to slow down and enjoy the views thoroughly.

Picturesque gorge and waterfall near Ithaca ny finger lakes
Several small pools along the Gorge Trail

Although this part of the gorge is slightly less dramatic, we don’t want to do the rest of the trail an injustice. There are still lovely wispy waterfalls and ledges to enjoy as you descend the final sections.

Notice how much more smooth and rounded the creek is here when compared to higher up?

Waterfall running almost dry in state park near Ithaca ny finger lakes into a green plunge pool
A large pool filled by a small wispy waterfall

You will pass yet more waterfalls plunging softly into emerald green pools below.

In spring and early summer, these portions are far more interesting as deeper and more powerful falls crash through the creek.

5. Pass By The Wooden Bridge

Woman standing on the wooden bridge in Buttermilk Falls
Kristen posing for a photo on the wooden bridge

After continuing along the Gorge Trail, you will come to a beautiful stone bridge crossing over Buttermilk Creek.

This bridge will lead you back to the Rim Trail or you can use it as a shortcut to get to the Gorge when starting on the Rim Trail. If the Gorge is crowded, this shortcut will help you reach the best part of the Gorge quickly.

You may see people wading in the water through this section, but please save your swimming for the natural fed pool located near Buttermilk Falls.

6. Follow The Winding Moss Covered Path

Woman walking along a stone walkway in a New York State Park

The remaining section of the Gorge Trail will follow Buttermilk Creek passing by both small and medium sized waterfalls as you make your way back to the main entrance of the park.

Take note of the moss covered shale and lush forest canopy when continuing along the path.

When we visited Buttermilk Park in April, it was raining in the parking lot but once we reached the trees along the Gorge Trail, we were protected from the rain.

Two cascading waterfalls along Buttermilk Gorge
Two small waterfalls along the Gorge Trail

This is truly a magical gorge and it’s easily to get snap happy when taking photos. Everywhere you look, you will find a great photo location.

Hiking Tip: Wear a good hiking shoe or boot in the Gorge because water often pools along the trail, especially in spring and fall.

7. Top Of Buttermilk Falls

Top view of Buttermilk Falls near Ithaca, NY
View from the top of Buttermilk Falls along the Gorge Trail

As you continue walking down Gorge trail, you will get the chance to see the falls from a different perspective at the Falls Overlook.

The trail finally ends with an overlook half way up Buttermilk Falls for you to appreciate its full size and angled slope from close up.

Falls Overlook with woman in background
Kristen looking out from Falls Overlook

8. Finish Hiking Down The Dirt Path

After you pass by the top of Buttermilk Falls and the Falls Overlook, the trail veers out from Buttermilk Creek and becomes a steep dirt path.

Wooden trail leading up to Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail
Wooden section of the Gorge Trail

You won’t be able to see much from this section of the trail, but take your time and watch your footing as this section can be tricky.

Want more waterfall inspiration? Don’t miss our popular guide featuring motivational waterfall quotes.

Bear Trail To Lake Treman Trail

For those who want to hike a bit further, try continuing along Bear Trail for 0.67 miles to Lake Treman Trail. Look for the red trail markers as Bear Trail connects along the upper section of Buttermilk Falls State Park.

Bear Trail is an easy going flat trail with minimal elevation gain. There isn’t much to see while you hike because you will be hiking through trees and next to a small section of Buttermilk Creek.

Hidden waterfall at Buttermilk Falls State Park
Lesser known waterfall by Lake Treman

However, you will pass by another large waterfall when hiking to Lake Treman which is next to a large grassy area with numerous picnic tables.

From here, you will reach Lake Treman which will be an 1.29 mile loop. On the far side of the lake, you can also connect to the Finger Lakes Trail Spur for 1.15 miles.

Photography At Buttermilk Falls State Park

Buttermilk Falls State Park Photography Fall colors foliage yellows
The stunning pools of water along the Gorge Trail

Buttermilk Falls is a fantastic environment to shoot nature photography.

The perfect time to arrive would be early on an overcast October weekday for brilliant Autumnal colors, no crowds and ideal light. But not everyone can be so selective so arriving early is our best advice.

Smartphones are more than capable for social media platforms but if you want to take home some extra special images you’ll need to remember a few things:

  • Use a mirrorless or DSLR camera and a lens with focal length between 12 – 24 for wider shots as well as a tripod.
  • There are a few places you could set your camera on a wall very gently if you forget your tripod. Put a spare hoodie or jacket between the wall and your camera.
  • You need stability to create the silky water appearance by shooting from anywhere around 0.3 seconds to 3 seconds using shutter speed priority mode.
  • Start at 1 second exposure and then make more images at faster and slower shutter speed until you are happy with how the water looks.
  • Visit early in the day before intense daylight but if it is bright, use an ND filter to stop down the light.
  • The top half of Gorge Trail is by far the best photography location at Buttermilk Falls State Park.
  • If you’re a beginner, shoot in RAW & JPEG. You can use your jpeg now but once you have more experience you will be grateful for the RAW file you can go back to and edit.

Interested in photography? Don’t miss our Photography Guides from around the world.

What Facilities Are Available At Buttermilk Falls State Park?

Kristen stood next to a life guard seat in front of a swimming pool at the bottom of a waterfall
Kristen standing by the natural swimming pool at Buttermilk Falls State park

The main entrance of the park has restrooms, playgrounds and playing fields for the kids. You can find plenty of green space for relaxing and picnics.

There are no restaurants or cafes at the park, but there are a number of grills and picnic tables so you can bring your own barbecue grub along.

Are Dogs Allowed At Buttermilk Falls State Park?

Yes, dogs are allowed on the trails at Buttermilk Falls State Park, but must be kept on leashes no longer than 6 feet.

Is Swimming Allowed At Buttermilk Falls State Park?

Yes, there is a natural stream-fed swimming pool at the base of Buttermilk Falls (main entrance). Swimming is only permitted between for a short period between July and August.

Adverse weather often means swimming is closed to the public so it’s a good idea to check ahead of your visit.

Please do not swim in the pools located along the Gorge Trail and save your swimming for this area.

Best Time To Visit Buttermilk Falls State Park

As we’ve mentioned many times, Buttermilk Falls State Park will be extremely busy on weekends between April and October, particularly during holidays.

From experience, we recommend staying clear on these days unless it’s the only time you can make your visit.

Best Time Of Year

Side view of Buttermilk Falls in April
Side profile of Buttermilk Falls in April

The last week of September and first week of October are the two best weeks of the year to hike Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail. This time of year brings vibrant fall foliage and the gorge truly comes alive with color.

We don’t recommend visiting Buttermilk Falls in winter or spring when the Gorge Trail is closed. It is by far the best thing to do here, so it would be a shame if you missed out.

Summer is hot and busy at Buttermilk Falls. You also won’t get fall colors, but you will see lush emerald green leaves lighting up the gorge which are also very attractive.

In April, the Gorge Trail will reopen after the spring scaling season. This is the best time of year to see heavily flowing waterfalls and experience comfortable hiking conditions.

If you are visiting the Finger Lakes in winter and want to hike a Gorge Trail, head to Taughannock Falls State Park and hike to the impressive waterfall which will likely be frozen.

Best Time Of Day

Two people walking along a Gorge Trail in the Finger Lakes
Mark and Kristen hiking Gorge Trail early in the day

Early morning is by far the best time of day to hike Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail. You will beat the crowds and be able to take photos with no people around.

Aim to arrive at 6:00am and be the first car in the lot at the main entrance so you can be the first person on the trails.

Late afternoon is the best alternative as most people are leaving for dinner or to beat a dark drive home.

When To Avoid

Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail is extremely busy on weekends between April and October, particularly holiday weekends.

We recommend avoiding the rush between 11:00am – 2:00pm.

Not only will your photos have loads of people, but you will also have to deal with waiting around as others block the tunnels or bridges.

The only way to enjoy your Buttermilk Falls State Park experience is to visit when it isn’t packed full.

Where To Eat Near Buttermilk Falls State Park

Yellow mug from the Yellow Deli sitting on a  table in front of a fireplace
Mug from the Yellow Deli sitting on a table

The popular college town of Ithaca is right on your doorstep at Buttermilk Falls.

Below we have listed some of the best local restaurants but don’t forget you are in the famous Finger Lakes wine region and there are plenty of winery options nearby.

If none of those options work or you need a quick bite before moving on, you can find plenty of the typical chain restaurants to the Southwest of Ithaca, just over 1 mile away from Buttermilk Falls State Park main entrance.

But try to support the local restaurants when you can!

Hotels Near Buttermilk Falls State Park

Are you planning to visit Robert H Treman, Buttermilk Falls and Taughannock Falls on a Finger Lakes road trip? 

Consider staying South of Ithaca one night for Treman and Buttermilk, before moving North of Ithaca the next day for Taughannock.

Or maybe you would prefer to set up base in the built up downtown area of Ithaca for a long weekend?

There are a number of excellent options for staying in and around Ithaca but remember the more flexible your dates, the better chance you have of saving money.

You can read our complete guide to the best hotels in Ithaca NY on our sister site or take a look at the top rated hotels in the area below.

People sitting on chairs at the Taughannock Inn
Mark and Kristen inside their room at the Taughannock Inn

Southwest Ithaca For Buttermilk Falls And Robert H. Treman State Parks

There are 4 budget friendly hotels ideally located within 1 mile of Buttermilk Falls. These hotel options couldn’t be anymore convenient!

You can get a night for between US$75-150 depending on your date of visit, including breakfast.

Click on the hotel names below to see availability and prices for your dates:

Downtown Ithaca For Central Location And Amenities

Staying centrally in Ithaca works best if you’re staying for 3 or more days because you won’t have to rush around the State Parks. Plus, over that period you will need amenities on your doorstep.

Here are the best hotel options in downtown Ithaca:

Northwest Ithaca For Easier Access To Taughannock Falls

Staying a night closer to Taughannock Falls means you can drive 20 minutes after Buttermilk Falls and beat the crowds more easily than driving up from Ithaca the next morning.

The Inn at Taughannock Falls is the obvious and most convenient accommodation for Taughannock Falls. We stayed here in May April 2023 and it’s located right at the entrance to Taughannock Falls Gorge trail.

This has to be your first choice if your budget can stretch.

Don’t worry if not, there are other options, including a historic bed & breakfast we stayed at in September 2020 called Glass Magnolia in Interlaken just a few miles from Taughannock.

The owners are fantastic and extremely welcoming, plus the homemade breakfast was excellent.

Interested in learning about how to save money on hotels? Don’t miss our popular how to book cheap hotels guide.

Buttermilk Falls State Park Camping

Wispy waterfall in a gorge near Ithaca ny
Several small cascading waterfalls along the Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail

There are 25 tent sites, 18 cabins and 1 pavilion at Buttermilk Falls State Park. The 73 person Pavilion is located at Upper entrance and costs US$ 100 per day to hire.

Buttermilk Falls Campgrounds

Reservations for campsites can be booked up to 9 months in advance and each site can be booked for up to 2 weeks. Campground season is mid April through mid October.

Nightly fees for camping are between US$ 18-28 per night (depending on the month of visit).

Be aware that non NYS residents will pay a further US$ 5.00 / night.

You can book a Buttermilk Falls campsite here.

Buttermilk Falls Cabins

During off season, cabins can be booked on a 2 nightly basis but in peak season (end of June to end of August) cabins can only be booked a 7 night basis.

Cabins are available between end of April and beginning of November.

Weekly fee for cabins is between US$ 238-400 (depending on month).

Calculating nightly cost for cabins is challenging. You will pay 1/4 of the total weekly price per night, but you have to stay for minimum of 2 nights.

So for 2 nights you will pay half the price of a week.

In peak season you have to book for 7 nights but in off season you will pay US$ 119 for a 2 night stay.

Plus, non NYS residents will pay an additional US$ 7 per night / US$ 28 per week.

You can book a Buttermilk Falls cabin here.

Buttermilk Falls State Park Interactive Map

Click into the interactive map, zoom in or out and move around the area to find all recommended restaurants, hotels, points of interest and parking lots.

  • Dark Green – Hotel recommendations in and around Ithaca, NY
  • Light Red – Restaurant recommendations in and around Ithaca, NY
  • Purple – One site tent, RV and cabin accommodations + pavilions
  • Blue – Gorge and Rim Trail plus Bear and Lake Treman Trails
  • Brown – Restroom location at main entrance
  • Maroon – Parking lots at both the upper and lower entrances
  • Orange – All points of interest for hiking, waterfalls and swimming

Buttermilk Falls State Park Photos

We love spending time at Buttermilk Falls and have hundreds of photos! Here are a few of our favorites:

Woman standing in front of fast flowing Buttermilk Falls
Kristen with an umbrella at Buttermilk Falls
Brown wooden signs indicating Gorge Trail, Bear Trail and Rim Trail
Wooden sign for multiple hiking trails
Flooded road near Lake Treman
April road flooding near Lake Treman
Woman in a yellow rain jacket along the Gorge trail at Buttermilk Falls State Park
Kristen taking in the waterfalls along Gorge Trail
Two cascading waterfalls along Buttermilk Gorge
Beautiful cascading waterfalls near Ithaca New York
Man walking next to Buttermilk Creek along the Gorge Trail
Mark walking along the lower section of the Gorge Trail
Informational sign located in the beginning of the park in front of a waterfall
Perspective photo of Buttermilk Falls
Memorial plaque for William J Chapin
Plaque in memory of William J. Chapin
Small cascading waterfalls with moss in the foreground
Tumbling waterfalls at Buttermilk Falls Gorge
Woman walking towards the Buttermilk Falls State Park Gorge Trail
Kristen at the entrance to the Gorge Trail
Stairs and waterfall view at a NY state park
Kristen standing at the top of Buttermilk Falls
Waterfall next to a stone staircase during the spring in upstate NY
Stunning cascades along the Buttermilk Gorge

FAQ’s For Buttermilk Falls

Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, New York.

How Long Of A Hike Is Buttermilk Falls?

The Rim and Gorge Loop Trail at Buttermilk Falls State Park is 1.5 miles in length and should take about 1 hour to hike.

Is Ithaca Falls The Same As Buttermilk Falls?

No, Ithaca Falls is different than Buttermilk Falls. Ithaca Falls is a 150 ft waterfall cascade located in the city of Ithaca and Buttermilk Falls is a 165 ft cascading waterfall in Buttermilk Falls State Park. Ithaca Falls and Buttermilk Falls are about 4.0 miles apart.

How Many Trails Are At Buttermilk Falls?

There are seven trails at Buttermilk Falls State Park. You can hike the Bear Trail, the Finger Lakes Trail Spur, Gorge Trail, Larch Meadow Trail, Lake Treman Trail, Owl Creek Trail and Rim Trail.

More New York State Guides

Want more New York content? Head over to our New York Travel Guides to explore the Finger Lakes, Adirondacks and the best of NYC.

We hope this guide to visiting Buttermilk Falls State Park helps with planning your visit to upstate New York!

Please let us know if you have any questions about planning your visit to Buttermilk Falls State Park or upstate New York in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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