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fall foliage by a waterfall in a state park near ithaca new yorkThe Finger Lakes are an area of eleven fairly narrow lakes, in the region of the same name, that roughly run from north to south.

Located within New York State, many of these lakes are contained in or around numerous state parks, which collectively provide countless opportunities for outdoor recreational activities like hiking, swimming, fishing and other water based activities.

A number of these state parks lie within easy driving distance of around an hour from the Ithaca, which of course is the home to Cornell University.

If you are looking to escape the pressures of city or university life for a while, they provide an excellent opportunity to get back to nature.

Here are 5 State Parks near Ithaca you should visit when such circumstances arise.

Map of State Parks Near Ithaca NY

Here is a map of the New York state parks covered in this post:

List of State Parks Near Ithaca

The five state parks near Ithaca outlined below are all within an hour’s drive of the city, making them perfect daytrip and overnight destinations.

1. Buttermilk Falls State Park

Location: 106 E Buttermilk Falls Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850

Just a 10-minute drive from downtown Ithaca, the charmingly named Buttermilk Falls State Park derives its name from the foamy cascade of Buttermilk Creek, which is formed as it flows towards Cayuga Lake down a steep valley.

Divided into two sections, the upper park possesses a small lake that is good for boating activities and fishing. It also has a number of hiking trails that will take you through dense woodlands and towards the gorge and rim, where there are playing fields and scenic picnic areas.

At the lower section of the park there is a campground, as well as a natural pool which is great for swimming in, and more playing fields. Further beyond lies a wetland area called Larch Meadows which also has a nature trail.

The campground here has one pavilion that can house up to 73 people. To stay here the pavilion costs $100 a night and has a 2-day rental period minimum.

2. Cayuga Lake State Park

Location: 2678 Lower Lake Rd, Seneca Falls, NY 13148

Cayuga Lake State Park is a relatively small 141-acre state park which resides east of the village of Seneca Falls, towards the north end of Cayuga Lake.

Situated just over a 45 minute drive north of Ithaca, the park enjoys a picturesque location, with flat terrain around the lakeshore – which is where a lovely beach and beautiful sun lawns are located – and a gentle, verdant, uphill slope to where the cabins and campsites can be found.

The park’s main highlight is the wonderful views it gives of Cayuga Lake. A great spot for fishing, you can catch carp thrive, bullheads and largemouth bass, in the shallow water that is situated near the park, and lake trout, landlocked salmon, northern pike and small mouth bass, in the deeper water.

Around the lake there are four pavilions for camping, which can accommodate between 36 and 127 people.

3. Fair Haven Beach State Park

Location: 14985 State Park Rd, Fair Haven, NY 13064

If you love the beach then you should head on over to Fair Haven Beach State Park.

You will find it in upstate New York, about an hour and 25 minutes north of the eastern portion of the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Featuring some 1500 feet of pristine sand, including 600 feet of patrolled swimming area, the pristine lakefront here is one of the comeliest in upstate New York. Flanked by hilly woodlands and bluffs that soar on the shoreline, the park also features the Sterling Pond and Creek.

Both the beach and the pond are perfect spots for swimming, fishing and boating. While there are also a number of excellent walking trails and picnic spots here too.

The campgrounds and cabin areas are quietly tucked away within the gently undulating woodlands. Overall there are three campground sites and a collective of 30 cabins, which contain a central restroom facility with showers.
There are also three cottage and two extra cabins that offer self-contained accommodation too.

4. Fillmore Glen State Park

Location: 1686 NY-38, Moravia, NY 13118

A 30-minute drive north of Ithaca you will find the Fillmore Glen State Park.

Made up of dense woodland that frame a narrow and long gorge, it is known for its fabulous hiking trails that showcase scintillating views, which include five different waterfalls, a gorgeous glen and some unique geological formations. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera along with you if you hike up here.

The park also has a gorgeous swimming pool which is fed by the stream, as well as good fishing opportunities in the inlet at Owasco Lake. During the winter, you can also go snowmobiling and cross-country ski here too.

Fillmore Glen has 60 campsites, as well as three pavilions that can accommodate between 58 and 110 people. It also has a full service cottage at Lake Point, directly on the shore of Cayuga Lake for those who love their home comforts.

5. Keuka Lake State Park

Location: 3560 Pepper Rd, Keuka Park, NY 14478

Reached via a 75-minute drive east, Keuka Lake State Park is the further state park from Ithaca on this list. But it is well worth making the effort to drive over there.

If you love wine this is a great place for you to head to as it is right in the heart of wine country. Radiating an intoxicating charm and beauty, the area provides magnificent views of rolling vineyards, shimmering water and cerulean skies.

A perfect spot for hiking and photography, this pet friendly location allows you to bring a maximum of two pets with you.
There is a big sized camping area in the park which accommodates 150 tents and trailer sites – 53 of which offer electric hookups.

Keuka Lake also has two pavilions which can house up to 75 people each. In addition there is also a picnic shelter here. As well as a docking space and a boat launch ramp too for your convenience.