Lick Brook aka Sweedler Nature Preserve

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The lower falls

Memorial Day weekend in Ithaca, NY is an interesting time – can anyone guess why? I’ll give you a hint – Cornell University Commencement (that’s not really a hint). 30-40,000 extra people invade Ithaca, NY to watch their children graduate or to figure out where all their money went – you chose. Locals such as myself have learned a few things:

  1. Expect cars to be going the wrong way on the one-way streets!
  2. Do NOT plan on going out to dinner – anywhere.
  3. Do NOT attempt to go to Wegmans.
  4. Stay home as much as possible!

So Thursday Hubby and I stopped at the store and stocked up on all the hot dogs, hamburgers, rolls, and ice cream (the essentials) we would need to get through the long weekend.  Hubby had to work on Friday but I took the day off to go to Watkins Glen.  But by Sunday we were getting a little stir crazy – so what’s a couple to do?  Visit a lesser known (not a State Park) area for a hike that’s what!!! 

Lick Brook is great – though this is another spot where bug spray will come in VERY handy.  And the hills are steep – very steep.  There’s a 2-3 car parking area at the top off Sandbank Rd (there are signs for Sweedler Nature Preserve) or there is a 10-15 car parking lot at the bottom near the Rtes. 34/96/13 interchange (near Eddydale Farms).  This trip we parked at the bottom and worked our way up.  From the parking area, follow the white swatches along some fields and into the woods.  Depending on how much water is in the creek you might be better off crossing the creek using the railroad bridge (which might technically be trespassing!) and which I find kind of difficult as I keep picturing myself falling through (probably not possible).

RR's are great for experimenting with leading lines!

Eventually the trail will lead you into the woods and to the lower falls.  Depending on water levels you can climb around these falls to get various angles and lots of great shots.  Also a great spot for a picnic if you don’t mind carrying in (and out) your supplies.

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Sun shining through the leaves at the lower falls

Hubby providing scale reference at the lower falls

Just past the lower falls you can chose the blue or the white trail to continue upwards.  The white trail is longer, but is supposedly not as steep though I’m not sure I really noticed much difference.  The white trail will take you near a different creek and some other falls, but with the leaves on the trees you can hear them better than you can see them.  Eventually the white and blue trails will merge near the upper falls, a spectacular 97′ drop.  From the trail there are a few overlooks – some better than others – and please be careful – it’s a long drop.

Upper falls as viewed from the blue trail

You can continue up the white trail towards the top of the preserve.  There are numerous cascades and little drop offs that are very pretty in their own right.  I did not walk this part of the trail this trip but here’s a pic from this portion taken in early spring.

Lick Brook Falls

Heavy glare pic I took in early April - I wish I'd had my circular polarizer then! 🙂



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