Journey around Cayuga Lake on the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway and visit an area rich with culture, history and interesting spots to spend a few hours, a weekend or a week. Whether you are visiting antique stores, exploring natural wonders, or dining at one of our renowned local restaurants, there are plenty of experiences offered along the Byway.
The Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway offers plenty of beautiful places to explore, whether it is the lakes, the awesome waterfalls and gorges, or the scenic rolling farmlands. You don’t want to miss these destinations as you travel around the Finger Lakes region.
At 215 feet, Taughannock Falls, on the west side of the lake, can claim the highest vertical drop of any falls in the Eastern United States. Dropping into a remarkable natural amphitheater, these spectacular falls also reveal much of the geology of the area. There are two ways to view the falls, either from a lookout a short distance from Rte 89 up Gorge Road or by walking along a ¾ mile trail. The trail begins at the west side of Route 89, and is quite flat and easy to walk. A number of interpretive signs along the way tell the story of the natural surroundings. There is a parking area immediately in front of the lookout and also one where the trail begins.
As the longest, widest and second deepest of the glacier carved Finger Lakes, Cayuga Lake itself is a natural wonder. It is over 38 miles long with a deepest point of 435 feet. Its widest point is almost 3.5 miles (near Aurora), but with an average width of 1 miles, one can almost always see the far shore. Much of the southern end of Cayuga Lake is framed by steep dramatic walls while the shores of the northern end roll more gently toward the lake. View its gorgeous waters while driving or stop at one of the many parks along the way. Parks to stop at include local parks Harris Park in Cayuga, Frontenac Park in Union Springs, Stewart and Cass parks in Ithaca, and Myers Point Park in Lansing, and Taughannock Falls, Cayuga Lake and Long Point state parks.
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
At the north end of Cayuga Lake is a 10,000 acre expanse of grasslands and wetlands providing essential habitat for thousands of migratory birds and wildlife. The diversity is striking; come see the bald eagles, the snow geese, the many shorebirds and waterfowl. The wildlife drive, trails, towers and blinds provide remarkable views. Montezuma is open to visitors daily and year-round, and has a visitor center open April through November.
Gorges and Falls
Taughannock Falls is only one of many gorges and waterfalls dropping into Cayuga Lake. For a closer look, stop at the following sites. Just north of Lansing on the east side of the lake, Ludlowville is a small village with the pretty Ludlowville Falls by a small park. Turn east on Ludlowville Road and park on the left hand side near the park. You must walk to the fence to see the falls. Right in the City of Ithaca, on the south end of the lake, Ithaca Falls is a short drive south along Lake Street (a continuation of 34B) and is visible from the road. Cascadilla Falls, at the junction of Court and Linn Street in Ithaca, is another wonderful falls. You can take the pleasant but steep hike there which connects to Collegetown and Cornell University.
Museum of the Earth
The impressive Museum of the Earth is a natural history museum exploring the history of the Earth and its life, while concentrating on the geology and paleontology of the Northeastern United States. The museum exhibits over 650 specimens from one of the nation’s largest and finest fossil collections, including the skeletons of the Hyde Park Mastodon and Right Whale #2030. Stop there for information about Cayuga Lake and its environment and much more. The museum is located on Route 96, just north of Ithaca, on the west side of the lake. 273-6623, 1259 Trumansburg Road (Rte. 96). www.museumoftheearth.org