One Of New York's Most Underrated State Parks Boasts Serene Waterfalls And Trails

Stunning waterfalls, picturesque trails available to explore, and the chance to reconnect with nature during a night under the stars — welcome to Fillmore Glen State Park! Tucked away from the buzz outside the charming village of Moravia, New York, and just 21 miles north of Ithaca — coincidentally known as one of the most picturesque towns to visit while exploring the East Coast — this relatively unexplored state park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers who want to go back to basics.

With plenty of activities to enjoy, including hiking, hunting, fishing, and camping — as well as seasonal sports like cross-country skiing and snowmobiling during the winter — Fillmore Glen State Park is an ideal getaway for families and solo travelers alike looking to escape the hustle and bustle. Plus, with the option to rent one of the park's cabins, reserve one of the campgrounds for an immersive and comfortable tent-camping experience, or even book the on-site cottage, there's no reason to believe that a visit to Fillmore Glen State Park means sacrificing comfort for adventure.

Open year-round from dawn to dusk, and with all trails opening up for visitors around the start of May, Fillmore Glen State Park pretty much checks all the boxes despite being so underrated: It's pet-friendly for up to two pets per campsite, children are more than welcome to join in on the fun, and there's even a swimming beach to help you cool down during the summer months. Talk about a hidden gem!

Exploring the best of Fillmore Glen State Park

While Fillmore Glen State Park might not take the crown as New York's largest state park, it has no reason to envy its bigger counterparts. Coming in at roughly 1,000 acres in size, the park's five waterfalls and three major trails are quick to steal the show.

Two of the most popular attractions include the easy-to-reach Cowsheds Falls and the 2.5-mile long out and back Gorge Trail. For starters, Cowsheds Falls features a 30-foot drop, plus two additional drops that ultimately add up to about 50 feet. According to local lore, the name comes from a rocky overhang near the bottom where nearby cows would come to find shelter and cool down in the summer. Cowsheds Falls is, without a doubt, the easiest waterfall to reach in the park: The trail is fully paved and it only takes a couple of minutes to get there.

Once you've had your fill, you can head back to the starting point for Gorge Trail. This trail will take you to all of the park's remaining waterfalls as you wind through the trees along a stone path, cross over bridges, and climb up sets of stairs to reach the top of each fall. For even more picturesque views, consider visiting the park during the fall, when the trees are bursting with hues of red and orange throughout. From there, the South Rim Trail and North Rim Trail are also worth the extra hike.

Other activities to enjoy at the park

Outside of the popular Gorge Trail and Cowsheds Falls, Fillmore Glen State Park also has plenty more to offer its visitors. One of the park's most unique features is the replica of former president Millard Fillmore's childhood home, located just off the swimming hole and parking lot. Why is the replica there in the first place? Because Fillmore, the 13th president of the United States — and for whom the park is named — was born not far from the park in Moravia.

Outside of getting in a little history lesson during your trip, Fillmore Glen State Park also keeps the fun going with everything from swimming at the park's stream-fed natural pool to hunting — permitted only in-season, with a permit, and in accordance to the New York State DEC Hunting and Trapping Guide — to nature photography, and even playing ball at one of the fields.

In terms of pricing, vehicle admission to the park, at the time of writing, is set at $8. Additionally, campsite bookings range from $15 to $27 a night, plus a $5 fee for out-of-state visitors, while weekly cabin rentals will set you back only $266 with a minimum two-night stay.