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  • Writer's pictureKrista Harris

I Love NY Upstate- Ithaca is Gorges!

Upstate NY in the Spring can be tricky to plan. It goes from freezing cold to super hot almost in a matter of days some years. And I hate sleeping in the heat, so the idea of glamping in the Spring seemed legit on paper and a good bet on the calendar. I am glad we rolled the dice and took a chance- we had an amazing weekend hiking, checking out a bazillion waterfalls, sitting by campfires and enjoying mother nature (comfortably).

Thursday night: Made the very easy 4 hour drive up from Philly to Firelight camps in Ithaca NY. We checked into our electric tent (if you are thinking about doing this trip anytime when the temperature can go below 55 degrees at night- just spring for the electric tent, it's worth it.)

Friday morning: Breakfast at Firelight is pretty bare bones- 3 lame pastry varieties to choose from, bagels, hard boiled eggs, granola and oatmeal, fruit to choose from. If I'm hiking all day I need a big girl breakfast, so I was not too impressed. But whatever, it did the job. For our first hike we did the Buttermilk Falls trail, the trailhead was literally on the campgrounds between tents 3 and 4- so super easy to do. This took us around Lake Treman and down the Buttermilk falls one way with all the views of all the waterfalls, back up around the loop with no views and all uphill. So take all your photos on the way down. That hike took us a few hours, from there we drove to Ithaca Beer Company for some outdoor lunch. I really liked this place, the food was decent and the property was so nice and big. Joe liked the beers, seems like a win of a lunch spot. Next we ventured into town before dinner- tried to do the Cascadia Gorge hike that is right on campus, but it was closed for repairs about 10mins in which was a bummer. Instead we walked around Ithaca Commons (bars/restaurants and shops on the downtown campus) and from there went to dinner at Coltivare. This place is part of the Culinary Community College- so you have chefs in training cooking for you. The food was pretty good, prices decent, not a bad dinner option- nothing amazing though. After dinner we headed back to Firelight where we had some wine (the campsite has a full bar) and made a fire, relaxed after a jam packed first day of Ithaca sightseeing.

Saturday: Lame breakfast at Firelight, then we drove about 20mins north to Taughannock Park where we started out with a quick walk on the North Rim trail to see some waterfalls (2 this round). Took us about 30mins, then we drove down to Cayoga Lake, parked there, and did the Gorge trail for an hour up and back to one large waterfall. This lake would be super nice to visit in the summer and swim in/boat on. From Taughannock we drove 40mins west to Watkins Glen. We stopped for lunch at the Village Marina, right on the water, not the best food or service - seemed like a cross between a mainstay locals spot that gets plenty of tourists. After lunch we checked out Watkins Glen state park right down the street. I absolutely loved this park- it was so beautiful with all the gorges and waterfalls, I never would have imagined a state park being so impressive. We did the Gorge trail for a mile in, then the last half mile was closed off, so we did the South Rim trail (no views just a hike in the woods), and back. All of the trails are one way only so we took Indian trail on the other side of the gorge to get back. The Gorge trail is a must do though. The whole hike took us about 2 hours. After that we headed back to Firelight for some Happy Hour campfire action, then ubered to dinner at Mix - a tapas restaurant which had surprisingly good food and cocktails, but terrible service. That kind of was universal for all the restaurants, and even Firelight- but I'm going to guess most of the staff up here consisted of College student from Cornell.

Sunday: We did a morning Yoga class at Firelight- which wasn't the best but did the trick since we were super sore from our hikes. I wanted a real breakfast, so once we checked out of Firelight we went to brunch at La Tourelle's bistro (Firelight is right behind a full-service hotel). Very good food, again terrible service, but we were in no hurry.

I really enjoyed my glamping experience and Spring vacation in Ithaca! I feel like Upstate NY has so much more to explore. Tons of lakes for water activities in the summer, hiking everywhere, wineries and breweries! And I am a little fancy but sleeping in the tent was comfy! However, the bathhouse being detached was a little annoying. Waking up in the night to pee and having to walk to the bathroom got old quick. I will probably shoot for booking glamping tents with bathrooms in them in the future.

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