Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Buttermilk Falls & Moosewood

Tuesday July 19, 2016                                                                     Most Recent Posts:
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We’re heading back to Ithaca today to visit the Mothership of Vegetarian Restaurants, The Moosewood.  We plan to go there for lunch and decide to leave home early enough to visit Buttermilk Falls State Park which has been recommended as another beautiful falls with a gorge trail that we would enjoy.  

When we arrive at the park before it opens, we look at the map and see that we can start up the gorge trail and when we get to the top we can continue on to the Bear Trail and then, if time permits take the trail around Lake Tremot before coming back down the Bear Trail to the Ridge Trail above the gorge.  A sort of a loop hike.

The gorge can be hiked from the top down or the bottom up.  We start at the bottom which is the base of the 165’ main falls.   Like most of the wonderful Finger Lakes area waterfalls we have seen during our travels here, this one is a shadow of itself due to the 9 month drought which we learned yesterday is the worst since the 1960’s. 

The falls cliff is wet but there is no falls as there should be. 

One thing unusual to us about this falls is that swimming is permitted, with lifeguards, in the pool at the base of the falls.  But not today.  Swimming is closed and the life guard stand is empty.

We cross the bridge at the bottom of the pool and looking to our right further down we see a dry bed of Buttermilk Creek which above the falls is its source.





Like Watkins Glen, Buttermilk Creek and Falls have stairs leading up their gorge trail.  They don’t publicize how many and I didn’t count but I’d be surprised if it was significantly fewer than the 844 at Watkins Glen.

The determined hiker has brought his hiking stick.


Looking down from the landing at the top of the falls, we can see the pool at the bottom and the bare wet stones at the top.  Not even flowing water today.



More steps.


As we climb, the water from the creek increases and small cascades appear falling into pools which when they fill enough spill slowly down toward the main falls.







Though the numerous cascades are significantly smaller than normal, they are still beautiful.  Their song is quiet but joyful.








It is just wonderful how much of this beautiful trail we have all to ourselves in mid July.  That’s because we were here before it opened. 







This particular pool in the picture below was noteable for what we found swimming in it.



Not knowing much about fish, we have no idea who they are but we assume they got here in the river but the pool is now not deep enough to allow them to flow on down.  But then would they go all the way over the falls?  It’s all a mystery and that’s ok with me.  They certainly are beautiful.


Did they slide down here into the pool?




MOving right along we actually find 3 mini cascades in a row.  I can’t help but wonder how this would look during a rainy or even normal year.




With the water so shallow, someone has waded in to create this spiral.  I wonder when the rains finally come will the stronger waters wash it away.   I love seeing it here.






At this time, there is hardly a need for the lovely bridge.  You could walk across the creek and barely get wet.





In previous years, the water has obviously been powerful enough to do some carving here.






More steps but we are almost at the top.  David said he had more trouble with these than at Watkins Glen.  Of course that may just be this day for him rather than this place.




No matter the water levels, the glen is beautiful and we’re having a wonderful time.






Looking back down we wonder how high up the sides the water usually is.





This is our last set of steps before reaching the top of the gorge.




Here we are, on the flat, heading down the Bear Trail.  No bears here any more though.  Too bad I think.



But there are big beautiful hemlocks that don’t have the wooly adelgid yet thankfully.


We assume this is Buttermilk creek since it is directly above the gorge.  Perhaps it has gone underground.  Its bed is broad and dry.




At the end of the Bear Trail we find restrooms, some picnic tables and the trail head to continue on around Lake Treman.








When we spot the white blazes that apparently are now the indication of all long distance trails, at least in the east, we know that this is the Finger Lakes Trail which is part of the North Country Trail.  David thinks he’s had enough and will head back to the Bear Trail and I can continue around and meet him at the car.



I continue on around the Lake Tremont trail which is now a combination white blazed trail.  I reach the bridge at the top of the lake and find no water at all over the river/stream/trickle that comes in to form Lake Tremont.




Walking down the other side back toward the trail head of this loop trail I find some wetlands.  This is the lake but it has become just a bit of a wetland now over the last 9 months, mostly filled with grasses, reeds and cat tails.   Very shallow despite the lovely cloud reflections.



I have many more pictures of the Tremont trail on my way back but I really must move this post on.   I return to the Tremont loop trail head, take the lovely Bear Trail back to the top of the gorge and head down the rim trail. 

This is a picture of the steps in the gorge from the beginning of the rim trail.  This is the only time I can actually see into the gorge from the Rim Trail.  I would  not recommend it as an interesting way to return to your car.  Take the gorge trail and its steps back down is my advice.  Although, there are many more people on it than on the Rim Trail by the time I am returning.



From Buttermilk Falls State Park we head into Ithaca to our destination. The Moosewood Restaurant has been the mothership for vegetarian cooking for nearly all  of its 40 years.  For many vegetarians, including me, it was the first vegetarian cookbook I had.  The last time I was at Moosewood was with Carrie on her Summer 1998 “Let’s Visit Colleges Tour”.  The food was fabulous then and it is fabulous today.



For lunch you can mostly come in and step up to the register and request to be seated indoors or outdoors.  But for dinner, you’d better have a reservation.



Although there are 10 or 12 Moosewood Cookbooks here for sale, I do not find their very first one which I still own.  They have T shirts too as you can see.  Carrie and I brought one back to David who could not take the time off to join the tour.  He still wears it and we like it better than the ones we see today.



Here’s their latest cookbook and boy do the recipes look good.  Although we would have to alter many of them to eliminate the oil.




Inside Moosewood



We choose the outside patio on this day when the temperatures are more what we were expecting in the Finger Lakes.



David starts out with a flight of beers he selects.



After we order, I step out beyond the patio to take this picture of it.  There’s David’s head just beyond the bicycle with all the bags on it.  Ithaca is quite a cycling town.  Many people bike possibly because of the cost of parking which is $1.50 an hour on the street.



I’ve ordered one of the day’s specials, Wasabi Sweet Potato Tacos which are sweet potatoes roasted with onions and wasabi.  It has cilantro-jicama slaw and avacado cream and is served in two soft shell corn tortillas.  It also comes with bamboo rice.   

David has Hoppin’ John a house favorite from the regular menu.  It’s described as southern black eyed peas, simmered with onion, allspice, thyme and kale, topped with fresh tomatoes,  scallions and applewood smoked cheddar, served on brown rice.



Take a closer look.   They each tasted as good as they look.  David’s is a mountain of food.



Mine is more reasonably sized and delicious.  Notice my beverage of choice.



Of course with a more reasonable entre, I have room for desert.  This is by design.  Their desserts are fabulous too.

That’s a warm home made fudge brownie with home made coconut ice cream and blueberries.   David chooses his from the dessert specials of the day.  It is vanilla cheescake with mango.


Fabulous coconut ice cream!





All this including the beer, tax and tip came to $58.00.   That’s a high priced lunch for us which is why we didn’t come at dinner time.   But the food is so extraordinary that it is definitely worth it.  Would we recommend Moosewood?? 




We’re back home in plenty of time to see the sun set over Seneca Lake after a wonderful day here in the Finger Lakes.



  1. You know . . . I haven't seen my Moosewood cookbook in a looooong time. It is probably the same edition that you have from way back in the 80's. A plow through my cookbooks just now turned up "Chez Panisse", but "Moosewood" is elusive. Isn't that the one with all of the hand drawn illustrations? I recall having "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest", too . . . but which box are they stored in?

    Virtual hugs,


  2. Looks like a nice place to walk and enjoy the view.

  3. The drought may have caused the falls not to flow like normal, but it's still beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I, too, had the original Moosewood cookbook, but it went out with most everything else when we went full-time.
    As kids we swam in the pool at the base of those falls. All I remember is how cold the water was!

  5. Even though the water is low, the scenery is wonderful! Looks like Moosewood was definitely worth the splurge!

  6. Love the falls, but man that lunch is way far out of our budget range... gald you two enjoyed it none the less

  7. I've never seen Buttermilk Falls without lots of water tumbling down and tons of people swimming beneath. My mother has remarked several times how dry everything is and how it has hurt the fresh produce. My mother lives in Clayton on the St. Lawrence River in the heart of the Thousand Islands. Our family really enjoyed tent camping in Buttermilk Falls in the summer. Our kids were 5 and 2, they are now 38 and 35! Long time ago, for sure:) The trail along the falls is still worth the climb. The carved rocks and small falls are really neat.

  8. Love this sentence: Their song is quiet but joyful.

  9. Yes, you saw a very different Buttermilk Falls than we saw. However, it was still quite beautiful!!! Nature is always amazing!!! I believe that fish is a Brown Trout. We have never been to Moosewood, but looking at those wonderful lunches, we will have to give it a visit our next time in that area:o))

  10. Great photos, thanks for the share.

  11. Wonderful day to remember and do all over again! Thanks for a great post!

  12. That is some name for a vegetarian restaurant: Moosewood. Since they obviously don't serve moose, I guess they have culinary delights made from wood. I guess vegetarians need lots of fiber in their diets... :cD

  13. Wow! I can't even imagine what that gorge would be like with a full amount of water. Those lunches look terrific!

  14. What a beautiful trail! Those pools look so cool and inviting. The underwater spiral you discovered reminds me of an Andy Goldsworthy miniature work of art. :-) And how fun that you had lunch at Moosewood. I've owned at least three of their cookbooks over the years. Your tacos look especially delicious!

  15. How different the waterfalls are in the east particularly NY where you are as compared to where we are out west in Montana. The falls and rivers are having a good snow melt run off! But the gorge is beautiful.
    Im surprised how good vegetation dishes really are and by your description your meal sounds and looks delicious.
    I liked your description "Their song is quite but joyful"

  16. I can just imagine what that gorge must be like during a normal year. It is pretty this way though.

  17. As you said the gorge itself is beautiful, although a bit sad without the cascading water. I love the pic of David looking up on the stairs beside the falls. Those stairs look very daunting! Moosewood looks and sounds amazing, hopefully we can give it a try :-)

  18. Sad about the drought but even with limited water the little falls are wonderful. And lunch, though expensive, looks and sounds delish.

  19. I too had a collection of Moosewood cookbooks.....all gone when I downsized but I will forever remember the Broccoli Trees in a bed of rice. Of course my kiddos loved it with cheese sprinkled on top. I coaxed many a foster child to eat broccoli with my trees! Wish I had known about the restaurant when we traveled through there last summer.

  20. The state park is like a wonderland with the carved rocks and little falls - I like the look of it. So many stairs! You spotted great details like the spiral and the fish. I remember Ithaca and Moosewood - I think I would have chosen Dad's meal since I'm not a wasabi fan, but that looks like a lot of yummy food! I have the Moosewood cookbook here copyright 1977. I like the handwriting in it.


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