Potter's Falls (a.k.a. Green Tree Falls)

            Ithaca, Tompkins County
Waterway:          Six Mile Creek
Directions:          In Ithaca, take Route 79 east, past Route 366. Turn right onto
                            Giles Street. Just before the bridge over Six    Mile Creek, turn
                            left into a parking area. It's marked by a brown sign
                            "Mulholland Wildflower Preserve" and a white sign "VanNattas
                            Dam Watershed Area."
Alternative Parking: None
Best Viewing Locations: From the East Gorge Trail
Waterfall Height: Potter's Falls is a 25-foot high jagged edged cascade. 
                              Two dam waterfalls are 8 and 30-feet high respectively
Best Season to Visit: Year-round
Access:               Hike
Hiking Time:      2.5 hours round trip
Length:               4.8 miles round trip
Difficulty:           4 boots
Trail Surface:     Dirt
Trail Markings: Sign at entrance only
Uses:                   Hike
Dogs:                  OK on leash, clean up after pet
Admission:          Free, closed 10PM - 4 AM
Contact:              City of Ithaca, DPW, Parks & Forestry, 245 Pier Road, 
                            Ithaca,  NY  14850 www.ci.ithaca.ny.us

Six Mile Creek, particularly above the dam and at Potter's Falls, is a notorious nude sunbathing and skinny dip area. But beware, swimming is not allowed here. The area is patrolled by the Gorge Rangers who can arrest swimmers. Too bad, the allure is almost too much to resist. Even so, the walk to this waterfall is a very pleasant hike through woods. In spring you'll see waterfalls in tributaries as well as Six Mile Creek. Along the creek bed and deep in the woods you'll find many old water pipes dating from the early 1900s. This creek is still used as Ithaca's water
source-hence the no-swimming rule. Across Giles Street is the VanNattas Dam which creates a waterfall above a natural waterfall called Wells Falls or Business Man's Lunch Falls. See waterfall #71.

Trail Directions:

• From the parking area head south across a wooden bridge toward the creek.
• Walk upstream on a mulched trail (Greenway Trail), parallel to the creek.
• At 0.5 mile, pass a side trail to the left. Continue straight.
• At 0.6 mile, look across the creek at a wide dirt area. In spring a waterfall tumbles down to Six Mile Creek. Also look upstream on Six Mile Creek to see your first small waterfall.
• The side loop trail comes in on the left, but continue straight.
• The trail will narrow. Continue straight until you can see a small dam with an 8-foot cascade. Just beyond it is a larger dam with a 30-foot free-fall waterfall. (The two dams help minimize siltation problems in the drinking water. ) This is as far as you can go on this trail.
• Backtrack to the last side trail and turn right, away from the creek.
• Shortly, in the woods, turn right and take the trail uphill, heading north.
• Reach a junction at 1.1 miles and turn right (E).
• At 1.2 miles cross a tributary creek (with waterfalls in spring).
• Pass the two dam falls far below.
• At the reservoir, turn left and head uphill. (The trail straight ahead will be part of your return loop.)
• At 1.5 miles turn right (E) onto an old gravel roadway (East Rim Trail).
• The roadway disappears and the trail narrows above a swampy reservoir pond.
• At 1.7 miles, cross a gully (with waterfalls in spring) on an old water pipe.
• Climb a steep hill to get a great view from the end of the swampy reservoir pond.
• At the top of the hill, continue straight, downhill. (A trail to the left leads to houses.)
• At 2 miles, cross a gully that sports a 12-foot waterfall even in mid-June.
• Continue straight as a trail merges from houses.
• With the creek in view, turn left onto a side trail to stay upland on a trail that leads to Potter's Falls.
• The trail ends at Potter's Falls at 2.4 miles.
To Return:
• Put your back to the waterfall and turn left to take the trail down at water level (East Gorge Trail).
• Continue straight, passing several small side trails.
• At 2.8 miles pass a gully with a waterfall.
• Continue straight at water level (Cattail Trail), passing the swampy reservoir pond.
• At 3.4 miles climb a hill to get around the dam.
• Cross a gully at 3.7 miles (with waterfalls in spring).
• At 3.8 miles, turn left at a junction and head downhill.
• At the base of the hill, bear right, then turn right onto a wide dirt trail.
• Turn right when you reach the water's edge and follow this trail (Greenway Trail) back to the parking area.

Date visited:

   Trail Map



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