Buttermilk Falls State Park

Buttermilk Falls near Ontario has a natural pool where you can swim under a waterfall

Buttermilk Falls State Park is a stunning destination not too far from Ontario featuring a gorgeous natural pool beneath a waterfall— and you can actually swim in it.

Located in Ithaca, New York (roughly 2.5 hours east of Buffalo), the drive time from Toronto is just a little over 5 hours.

The park gets its name from where Buttermilk Creek flows down a steep valley towards Cayuga Lake, creating a frothy appearance reminiscent of churning buttermilk.

The waterfall is the park's main draw, forming a series of cascades and rapids from a height of 50 m. At the bottom, it creates a natural pool which is lifeguarded and sectioned off for swimming.

From the last weekend of June through Labour Day, you can check out the swimming area daily. However, if there's been a storm or heavy rainfall recently, the pool may close for safety reasons, so it's best to check on their website ahead of time for any updates.

To get there, follow the 2.5 km Buttermilk Falls Gorge and Rim Trail Loop, which will first lead you through scenic forested paths along the gorge.

The Bear Trail is another beautiful hike, which takes you to the peaceful Lake Treman. You can go for a paddle or swim in the lake, or continue on the path through rich wetlands.

If you'd like to extend your stay, the park offers cabins and campgrounds for tent camping, which you can reserve online.

Lead photo by

erick durick


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