© 2001 Jon Binder
Ratings (ratings explained)
Ease of Access: 7/10
Lick Brook, located just south of Ithaca, has three major waterfalls, as well as a dozen or so smaller ones. All can be viewed from a steep trail along the Brook.
Cascade above upper falls
Cascade on a small stream running parallel to Lick Brook
Lower Falls of Lick Brook
Upper Falls of Lick Brook
From Ithaca, take NYS Route 13/34/96 south. Just past the entrance to Buttermilk Falls State Park on the left, turn left onto Sand Bank Road. Soon, a Y intersection is reached, at which point you should bear right onto Town Line Road. Immediately after this turn, park on the right side of the road, just before the bridge over Lick Brook. The trail access is found here.
Lick Brook is part of the Sweedler Preserve operated by the Finger Lakes Land Trust.
The trail along the brook is part of the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT). From the parking area, it leads slightly downhill, passing numerous small cascades. After approximately 10 minutes, the top of the biggest waterfall is reached. I have seen this falls listed as both 93 and 140 feet high. Either way, it is quite impressive. The picture on this page is of the top portion of this falls.
The trail continues down, now more steeply, with views through the trees of the upper falls. In this area, in high water, you may hear the sound of cascades off to your right. In fact, a side stream has some beautiful cascades that you should check out. Just follow your ears - they are only a few steps off the trail.
Eventually, a side trail on your left is reached that leads back upstream to the base of the upper falls. However, when I was there, the water was so high that this trail was impassable.
Continuing steeply downhill, you come to a rock outcrop that overlooks the middle falls. This falls is 25 feet high. Since the water was so high when I was there, I was unable to take a picture without getting my lens covered in spray from the waterfall.
Still walking on a steep trail, continue down to the bottom of the lowest falls. This falls, 47 feet high, is probably the most beautiful of all the falls on Lick Brook. The lighting and water conditions made it difficult to do this falls much justice in the photograph, however.
After visiting this falls, you can continue along the trail (which eventually brings you out to route 13), or climb back up to your car. The climb back up is somewhat stenuous, climbing about 500 feet in only a half of a mile. Expect this climb to take a solid half hour to complete.
Overall, Lick Brook is impressive and beautiful, and provides a good alternative to the more popular gorges of the area, such as Buttermilk Falls and Enfield Glen. However, the water level of Lick Brook is extremely low. These pictures were all taken in early April, during the Spring snow melt. At other times of the year, Lick Brook reduces to a trickle, and can even virtually dry up completely.
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Page Last Revised: February 20, 2002