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How To Visit Robert H Treman State Park + Lucifer Falls

How To Visit Robert H Treman State Park + Lucifer Falls

Overflowing with wild beauty, rugged gorges and dramatic waterfalls, Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca, NY is the perfect day out for hiking in the Finger Lakes region.

Lucifer Falls, the 115-foot high showstopper, is just one of 12 waterfalls you will pass as you descend stunning stone staircases into the depths of Enfield Glen Gorge.

Or you can decide to stop for a dip at the beautiful stream-fed swimming pool at the base of 50-foot high Lower Falls which is complete with diving board.

In our detailed guide, we will show you:

  • Where to find Robert H. Treman State Park
  • Entrance fee and parking information
  • 10 best things to do at Robert H. Treman
  • Robert H. Treman 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 at Robert H. Treman State Park NY.

Now, let’s visit Robert. H. Treman State Park! 

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Our Robert H. Treman State Park Experience

Why trust us to help with planning your visit to Robert H. Treman?

Well, for starters Kristen is a Finger Lakes native, growing up in a small town just 85 miles from Ithaca. We also temporarily lived in the region when Mark first moved to the US in 2019 so we have hiked Robert H. Treman Gorge Trail several times.

Having traveled the US extensively, we think the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is one of the most amazing 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.

What Can You Expect From This Guide?

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

You will find information about parking, entrance fees, a walkthrough of the Gorge and Rim Trail loop as well as nearby accommodation and restaurant options.

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

By the end of this article you will know exactly what you can expect when planning a trip to family friendly Robert H Treman State Park.

Robert H. Treman State Park Factfile

  • State Park: Robert H. Treman
  • City: Ithaca
  • State: New York
  • Campgrounds: 72
  • Area: 1,110 acres
  • Activities: Hiking, swimming, waterfalls, photography
  • Major Waterfall: Lucifer Falls (115 ft)
  • Open: All year (only Lower Falls accessible in winter)
  • Annual Visitors: ~200,000 – 250,000

Where Is Robert H. Treman State Park?

Robert H Treman State Park is conveniently located just 5 miles from downtown Ithaca, NY.

Ithaca is the perfect base for exploring Robert H Treman, as well as Buttermilk Falls, Taughannock Falls and even Watkins Glen State Parks over the course of a few days.

From downtown Ithaca, simply follow NY-13A South for around 15 minutes until you see signs for Robert H Treman State Park.

Once you turn onto Enfield Falls Road take the first left to lower entrance or continue a further 3.5 miles to reach Upper entrance.

Robert H Treman Google Maps Location.

Entrance Fee And Parking Information

Parking at New York State Parks can be problematic on busy weekends or public holidays but there’s just about enough capacity here to cover even the busiest days.

Arrive early or later in the day to guarantee parking spaces and remember there are 2 parking lots, one at each end of the park.

Upper entrance is located off Enfield Falls Rd to the west, while the lower entrance is located off Elmira Rd to the east.

Let’s take a quick look into which is the better place for your to park when visiting and how much it costs:

Robert H. Treman State Park Entrance Fee

The Old Mill building at upper entrance Robert H treman state park parking lot
Exterior view of the Old Mill at Robert H. Treman State Park

Most New York State Parks do not charge an entrance fee so if you walk, cycle or get dropped off, you don’t have to pay anything to enjoy the stunning gorges and waterfalls.

However, 99% of visitors are going to be using a vehicle to visit and you will have to pay to park.

Between 1 April and 30 November from 6:00am to 6:30pm every day, you will pay US$ 9 per vehicle at Robert H. Treman State Park.

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

Robert H. Treman State Park Upper Entrance (West)

Upper entrance parking lot at Robert H treman state park New York in the finger lakes region
Parking lot at the upper entrance of Robert Treman

Parking at upper entrance allows you to begin the Gorge or Rim trail hike from the highest elevation at Robert H Treman State Park.

Remember that you will have to ascend the return leg of your hike to reach the parking lot, so if you prefer to get the hard work out the way first, consider parking at lower entrance instead.

There are far fewer parking spaces at upper entrance compared to lower entrance, which means the parking lot will fill quickly in summer or on holiday weekends.

We visited on Labor Day weekend and it was packed but we were able to grab the only available space when we arrived at lunchtime.

This parking lot is home to Enfield Falls Mill (the Old Mill), a turbine powered mill used for grinding cereal grain into flour and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are bathrooms on the ground floor of the Old Mill and a pleasant waterfall right behind the building.

Upper entrance is much closer to the most scenic parts of the Robert H Treman State Park Gorge Trail. Photographers should park here to beat the crowds and light of day.

Robert H. Treman State Park Lower Entrance (East)

upper entrance overflow parking lot with many cars
Overflow parking lot at the upper entrance with additional spots

Parking at the lower entrance means you will begin your hike up Gorge and Rim Trail from the lowest elevation.

The lower entrance is more popular for families because the picnic area and swimming hole are less than a 5 minutes walk from the parking lot.

This parking area is much larger and can accommodate far more vehicles.

Campgrounds, cabins and pavilions are all accessible via the lower entrance to the park. Once you reach the parking lot, continue over a bridge and you will find the lodging area.

There are bathrooms and a changing room for swimmers to use, plus plenty of green space to set up for picnics.

10 Best Things To Do At Robert H. Treman State Park

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

Here are 10 things you can do at Robert H. Treman State Park:

  1. Have a picnic
  2. Go camping
  3. Visit the Old Mill
  4. Try your luck fishing
  5. Hike any of the 5 trails
  6. Hunt for deer in bow season
  7. Play game on the softball field
  8. Let the kids run around the playground
  9. Enjoy a dip in the natural swimming pool
  10. Take a gorge tour or educational program

You can find more information about a Robert H. Treman hunting permit here.

Robert H. Treman State Park Waterfalls

There are 12 waterfalls at Robert H. Treman State Park including 2 large waterfalls and 10 smaller waterfalls.

Lucifer Falls is the 115 feet high star attraction at Robert H Treman State Park. Of the 12 waterfalls inside the park, Lucifer Falls is the most striking and unique.

The waterfalls at Robert H.Treman are supplied by Enfield Creek which is a tributary to the Cayuga Lake inlet. Water in the falls is generally constant with a good flow, unless when you visit after a drought like we did.

Lucifer Falls At Robert H. Treman

Lucifer Falls at Robert H. Treman State Park with very little water
Stunning view of Lucifer Falls from the overlook along Rim Trail

Cold water plummets down an enormous slab of rock with wide open shelf-like ledges, which means when the falls are running heavy in Spring and early Summer, there is a mighty cascade.

We visited in late summer after a drought and unfortunately Lucifer Falls were running fairly dry but just about enough flow to create a wispy waterfall.

The two best places to see Lucifer Falls are close to the top of Gorge Trail and at the top of the steep steps section of Rim Trail. Both are close to upper entrance parking lot but on different trails.

Views of the waterfall from Gorge trail are close up and from a side perspective, while the view from Rim trail is much farther out and offers a front on perspective.

Try to experience both viewpoints if possible so you can fully appreciate the grandeur of Lucifer Falls.

Lower Falls At Robert H. Treman

Visitors in the swimming pool at Robert H Treman
Visitors enjoying the swimming pool near Lower Falls

Lower Falls (or Enfield Falls) is a 50 ft tall cascade found at the base of the popular swimming hole at Robert H. Treman State Park.

This lower section is damned and is very similar nearby Buttermilk Falls State Park because you can swim at the base of both waterfalls.

Swimming is easily one of the most popular activities at Robert H. Treman in summertime, especially on holiday weekends.

Enjoy waterfalls? Don’t miss our popular guide to the beautiful upstate New York waterfalls.

Robert H. Treman State Park Trails

In addition to swimming and waterfalls, hiking is one of main attractions at Robert H. Treman State Park and there are a total of five Robert Treman hiking trails.

The most popular hike at Robert H. Treman is the Gorge Trail which is 2.12 miles one way. This Gorge Trail is often combined with the Rim Trail (2.09 miles) to make a 4.21 mile loop.

Here are the five Robert H Treman hikes (distances are one way):

  1. CCC Memorial Trail (CCC) – 0.49 miles
  2. Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) – 5.15 miles
  3. Gorge Trail (GT) – 2.12 miles
  4. Red Pine Trail (RP) – 0.79 miles
  5. Rim Trail (RT) – 2.09 miles

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

Use this Robert H. Treman State Park trail map here to find new trails.

Robert H Treman State Park Gorge And Rim Trail Hike

This is a walkthrough of both Gorge and Rim trails beginning at upper entrance, taking Gorge trail down in elevation to the lower entrance before looping round and gaining elevation on Rim trail.

Robert H. Treman Gorge and Rim Trail Loop distance: 4.21 miles roundtrip

Hiking difficulty rating: Moderate

Difficulty is listed as moderate because portions of the Rim trail are steep and there are many stairs.

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

1. The Beginning Of The Gorge Trail

Stone bridge passing over a river in upstate new york
A beautiful stone footbridge at Robert H Treman

Begin at the Old Mill near the upper entrance, we urge you to use the bathroom because you won’t be able to use another until you reach the lower entrance.

After you have finished your business, walk to the far end of the parking lot and cross the small stone bridge.

Here you will see the Rim Trail forks to the right and gains elevation. We visited when the Gorge Trail was sectioned off as a one way hike during covid so instead of taking this right, we had to turn left.

This led us to follow a dirt path and cross another beautiful stone bridge. The Gorge Trail is no longer sectioned off as a one way trail so your hike may look a little bit different.

River gorge running dry near Ithaca New York finger lakes
The section of the Gorge Trail at Robert H Treman

Within a matter of minutes you will arrive at the most dramatically stunning part of the entire State Park. The gorge here has a feel of Watkins Glen, like its jumped right out of a fantasy novel.

But it doesn’t last long so enjoy this area thoroughly before moving on.

Interesting river bed formation running dry with stone bridge crossing at a New York state park
Visitors along a stone walkway at Robert H Treman State Park

At the end of this short scenic section of the trail you will find another gorgeous arced stone bridge. This is instagram central, so unless you arrive early you might have to wait a while to get a clean photo.

Waterfall along the beautiful Gorge Trail
A smaller waterfall along the Gorge Trail

Follow the wonderful twisting stone staircase as it hugs the sheer cliff edge and you descend into open canyons.

The first small waterfall you reach is around 12-15 feet high and sits in the corner of a square shaped pool.

2. Stunning 115 ft Lucifer Falls

Lucifer Falls from gorge trail t Robert H treman state park Ithaca ny side view at midday
Side profile of Lucifer Falls

Follow the flowing water around a few more corners with wide open stunning views through the canyon before stumbling across the top of Lucifer Falls.

The side angled viewing platform from the stone staircase close to the top of the waterfall is the best you will get until later on Rim Trail.

Short loop taking bridge from gorge trail back to lower entrance
A wooden bridge back to Rim Trail for a shorter loop

You will follow a stone dirt path alongside Enfield Creek once the stone staircase ends at the bottom of Lucifer Falls.

Before long you have an option to cross a wooden bridge and join Rim Trail which takes you back to upper entrance.

This is the Short Loop and is perfect for those who only want to see the best bits of the park. After here, the views are far less impressive and hiking is more challenging.

Woman walking down a wooden staircase along the Rim trail
Kristen hiking down the stairs along Gorge Trail

The trail veers away from the gorge and takes you through green forest before rejoining the creek. Enjoy the fresh clean air and sounds of nature as the real hiking begins.

Waterfall and stone staircase at Robert H Treman gorge trail Ithaca NY
A gorgeous stone staircase next to a small waterfall

One of the next major waterfalls is only 5 or 6 feet high but the ornate looking stone staircase right next to it makes for a visually pleasing photograph.

Stone staircase surrounded by stunning green trees in the finger lakes region
The trail loops around into the forest

A little further you will reach your next Chronicles of Narnia looking winding stone staircase ascending into lush vegetation. The Gorge Trail really is a fantastic and scenic hike.

2. Rim Trail At Lower Entrance

Metal gate at the lower entrance of robert h treman state park near the swimming pool
The trail to Lower Falls at Robert H Treman

Turn right as you leave Gorge Trail, following the path until you enter the gate to Lower Falls. Bathrooms are to the left when you exit Gorge Trail.

Lower falls at Robert H treman state park swimming hole with lifeguard and diving board
The swimming pool at Robert H. Treman State Park

You will find the swim changing rooms after a minute or two. If you’re taking a dip or a dive, now is the time to switch out of hiking gear and into swimsuits.

Lower Falls is an attractive 40-50 feet high waterfall which opens up into a deep bowl-like pool. Diving into a pool at the bottom of a waterfall is pretty awesome, right?!

Pathway with fenced gates up at each side of the trail
A fenced section of the Rim Trail

We’ll be completely honest, ascending Rim trail isn’t the most exciting hike.

It’s a bit of a slog and there isn’t a huge amount to see. You will pass by the park’s log cabins accommodation, climb and disappear into forest.

You have around 500 feet to gain and parts of the trail can feel steep. Be aware of stones and tree roots sticking up as you hike.

Steep steps section of Rim trail
A stone staircase along Rim Trail

The next real landmark worthy of discussing is the steep steps section of the Rim Trail, which as it says in the name is pretty damn steep.

3. Lucifer Falls Overlook From Rim Trail

You’ll climb the intricate stone slabs like a switchback trail, heart racing and heavy breathing until you reach a wonderful lookout point from which you can see trees in the gorge for miles.

But this will be your reward….

Robert H Treman State Park with low water in Lucifer Falls
Viewpoint of Lucifer Falls from Rim Trail Overlook

The best view of Lucifer Falls once you finally summit the steep stone stairs. It’s worth the effort. Grab your selfies, set up your camera and tripod or just enjoy the views.

You only have a short distance back to the parking lot from here and you’ve completed the surprisingly demanding Gorge and Rim loop hike at Robert H Treman State Park.

Small waterfall in car park of state park near ithaca ny
A cascading waterfall at Robert H. Treman

Don’t miss the quaint Old Mill waterfall right behind the historic building on your way out of the park.

What Facilities Are Available At Robert H. Treman State Park?

You will find bathrooms at lower and upper entrances but nowhere else in the park. Lower entrance swim changing block closes 2:30pm – 3:30pm for cleaning.

There are no restaurants or cafes on site so be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.

Swim changing block at state park Ithaca ny
The restrooms located by the Old Mill

Are Dogs Allowed At Robert H. Treman?

Yes, dogs are permitted to walk both Rim and Gorge trail but must be on leashes no longer than 6 feet. Pets are not allowed at the swimming area, playgrounds or boardwalks.

If dogs are taken off the leash or designated paths, you will be asked to leave the park. Proof of rabies inoculation may also be requested by staff.

Is Swimming Allowed At Robert H. Treman State Park?

Yes, there is a designated swimming area complete with diving board at the base of Lower Falls which is near the lower entrance to the park.

However, swimming is only permitted between mid-April and mid-October when a lifeguard will be on duty. You are not permitted to swim without a lifeguard or at any other part of the creek.

Best Time To Visit Robert H. Treman State Park

Waterfall half covered in shade half in sun in Ithaca New York
Plunge pools along the Gorge Trail

The best time to visit any place depends on personal preference. At Robert H Treman you can expect the park to 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

Spring is the best time for heavy running waterfalls and comfortable hiking conditions.

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

Fall is best for colorful foliage and in winter the hiking trails close.

The last week of September and first week of October are the two best weeks of the year to hike Robert H Treman Gorge Trail. This time of year brings vibrant fall foliage the gorge truly comes alive with color so it’s our favorite time to visit.

Around late November every year, the Gorge Trail and Red Pine Trail at Robert H. Treman State park close for the winter season, but the remainder of the park is open with icy conditions possible.

These two trails will reopen after the spring scaling season.

Best Time Of Day

If you want to beat the crowds, arrive as early as possible. This is the same advice we always give, but it’s amazing how much quieter State Parks are if you begin at sunrise.

The busiest period is typically 10:00am – 3:00pm but this is also the best time to swim. On warmer days, you should aim to hike early in the morning and then cool down with an afternoon swim.

Robert H. Treman State Park Camping

There are 70 tent or RV sites, 14 cabins and 3 pavilions at Robert H. Treman State Park.

Robert H. Treman Campsites

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 fee for camping is between US$ 18-28 per night (depending on month of visit).

Be aware that non NYS residents will pay a further US$ 5/night.

You can book a Robert H. Treman campsite here.

Robert H. Treman 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), but booking cabins can be confusing. 

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/night or US$ 28/week.

You can book a Robert H. Treman cabin here.

Robert H. Treman 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 recommendation in and around Ithaca, NY
  • Purple – On site tent, RV and cabin accommodations
  • Blue – Gorge and Tim trails begin and end
  • Brown – Bathroom locations at each entrance
  • Maroon – Parking lots at each entrance
  • Orange – All points of interest for hiking, waterfalls and swimming

Where To Eat Near Robert H. Treman State Park

Nearby Ithaca is definitely the best place to go and eat a nice dinner after your 5 mile hike.

In downtown Ithaca you will find local and unique restaurants as we have listed below but don’t forget you are in Finger Lakes wine country if you’re staying the night.

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 3 miles away from Robert H. Treman State Park.

But try to support the local restaurants when you can!

Robert H. Treman State Park Hotels

Consider your plans when choosing a place to stay. It might be better to stay South of Ithaca one night and North of Ithaca the next if you are planning to visit Robert H Treman, Buttermilk Falls and Taughannock Falls.

It’s worth noting Watkins Glen is a good 35-40 minutes drive from Robert Treman so we have excluded that area from hotel recommendations.

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

Let’s take a look at some of the best hotel options in the Ithaca, NY area:

Southwest Ithaca For Robert H Treman And Buttermilk Falls State Parks

There are 4 budget friendly hotels conveniently located under 3 miles from Robert Treman and under 1 mile from Buttermilk Falls.

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

Click on each of the 4 hotel names 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 Robert H Treman 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. The Inn is stunning and 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 called Glass Magnolia in Interlaken just a few miles from Taughannock.

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

Want to save money on hotels? You might like our guide on how to find great deals on accommodation.

Robert H. Treman State Park FAQ’s

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

How Long Of A Hike Is Robert H. Treman?

The Rim and Gorge Loop Trail at Robert H. Treman State Park is 4.21 miles in length and should take about 2 hours to complete.

Where Do You Park For Robert Treman State Park?

If you want to swim at Robert Treman, you should park at the lower entrance and if you want to hike at Robert Treman, you should park at the upper entrance.

How Many Waterfalls Are At Robert H. Treman State Park?

There are a total of 12 waterfalls at Robert H. Treman with 2 of the most popular waterfalls being Lucifer (115 ft) and Lower Falls (50 ft).

How Many Trails Are At Robert H. Treman?

There are five trails at Robert H Treman State Park. You can hike the CC Memorial Trail, the Finger Lakes Trail, Gorge Trail, Red Pine Trail and Rim Trail.

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 hiking the Robert H Treman Rim and Gorge trail helps with planning your visit to upstate New York!

Please let us know if you have any questions about planning your visit to the Gorge Trail at Robert H. Treman State Park near the Finger Lakes in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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Doug

Sunday 5th of June 2022

Nice walk thru of Robert Treman SP; walked it last week and your descriptions were spot on.

Mark and Kristen Morgan

Tuesday 7th of June 2022

Thank you, Doug - hope you enjoyed the trail and waterfalls.