Pets allowed
Guided tours
Backcountry camping
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Buttermilk Falls State Park is one of the many state parks near Ithaca with incredible waterfalls, an awesome gorge hike, great swimming, and a bustling campground. The name Buttermilk Falls comes from the frothy cascades that form along the Buttermilk Creek as it flows toward Cayuga Lake within the park.

There are two main entrances to the park. The lower entrance provides access to the popular swimming area, the camping and cabin area, picnic pavilions, and a playground. From the lower parking area hikers can walk the Larch Meadow Loop Trail (1.02 miles), the Rim Trail (0.82 miles one way), or the Gorge Trail (0.65 miles one way). The Rim Trail and the Gorge Trail connect at the upper parking area as well, and they can be combined to create a 1.47-mile loop. Just be prepared for lots of steps along the way! The upper parking area provides access to the Lake Treman Loop Trail (1.29 mile loop) as well as playgrounds and ball fields.

The swimming area is located at the base of Buttermilk Falls, which is the largest waterfall in the park. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months, and swimming is prohibited when there are no lifeguards. This part of the park and the Gorge Trail are very crowded in the summer. It’s totally worth it if you want to swim, but if you are looking for solitude, visit in the spring when the falls will be full but the trails won’t be.

The campground at Buttermilk Falls State Park is basic. The sites are wooded and fairly close together, plus there is a bit of noise from the nearby road. There are also small camping cabins which are also very close together.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee

Open Year-round



Trails are quiet. Lifeguarded swimming.


Busy swimming area. No swimming except in the lifeguard area.


ADA accessible
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Potable water
Picnic tables
Near lake or river
Bird watching


Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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