Name of Waterfall

Shower Bath Falls


Buttermilk Falls State Park is located at the very south end of the city of Ithaca, just east of Route 34 – signs for the park are abundant along the highway. From the parking lot, cross either of the two footbridges below the swimming area and begin hiking up the Gorge Trail. Pinnacle Falls is encountered about seven-tenths of a mile up from the start of the trail, just past Pinnacle Rock.Buttermilk Creek, like so many others in the Finger Lakes area, courses down a narrow gorge as it descends into the glacially carved valley occupied by Cayuga Lake at the south end of the city of Ithaca. What makes the various falls of Buttermilk Creek unique is the structure of the gorge. The creek descends about 430 feet in just over two-thirds of a mile, dropping over at least eight distinct waterfalls. Initially the falls start as small plunges and cascades, but as the stream descends the falls get progressively taller, wider, and less steep.
Shower Bath Falls is the final significant waterfall encountered along the Gorge Trail in Buttermilk Falls State Park as one progresses upstream from the parking lot. The falls drop 20 feet in a semi-veiling form into a deep pseudo heart-shaped pothole scoured into the canyon which immediately invokes visions of a large natural bathtub – hence the falls’ name. A smaller 5-foot fall occurs immediately downstream of the main fall. Immediately upstream of Shower Bath Falls interesting formations can be seen in the creek as it has eroded the bedrock in the streambed, and additionally a short distance downstream of the falls a large nearly perfectly circular pothole can be seen adjacent to the creek and the aptly named Pinnacle Rock.
The drainage basin for Buttermilk Creek covers an area of about 11-1/2 square miles in area, and while it does hold a couple of small ponds and bogs, there are no large sources of standing water feeding the creek. This results in the stream varying in volume considerably as the seasons progress. By late summer the creek can be reduced to just a trickle, though we haven’t seen evidence that it has a tendency to dry out entirely.

Other Names




IWC Rating (International Waterfall Classification)


Total Height (ft)


Tallest Drop


Number of Drops


Average Width


Average High Volume (Cubic ft per second)

10 cfs (8 months)

Average Low Volume (Cubic ft per second)

1 cfs (4 months)


75 degrees

Run (ft)


Watershed or Feeder Stream

St. Lawrence River Buttermilk Creek