Tompkins County, and specifically the area around Ithaca and Cayuga Lake, replete with gorges, glens, and state parks, is one of the best in the Finger Lakes for all manner of outdoor sports, from hiking and biking to golf and sailing. Locals are a very outdoorsy lot, so you'll have plenty of company.
Outdoors outfitters, with backpacking, canoeing, and skiing equipment, include Cornell Outdoor Education, Bartels Hall, Campus Road, Cornell University (tel. 607/255-1807); The Outdoor Store, 206 The Commons (tel. 607/273-3891); and Eastern Mountain Sports, 722 Meadow St. (tel. 607/272-1935).
Boating & Sailing -- Cayuga Lake Cruises' Dinner Cruise aboard the 1915 M/V Manhattan is a great way to see Cayuga Lake. The boat sets sail mid-April to late October from the waterfront (M/V Manhattan Pier), 708 W. Buffalo St. (tel. 607/256-0898; cayugalakecruises.com). The company offers dinner, lunch, and brunch cruises. Lake charters for sightseeing and fishing on Cayuga Lake are available from Tiohero Tours (tel. 866/846-4376; www.tioherotours.com), which offers 1- and 2-hour narrated lake tours.
Private boat rentals are available from Taughannock Boat Rentals, Taughannock Park Road (Rte. 89; tel. 607/387-4439), and Puddledockers, 704 W. Buffalo St. (tel. 888/273-0096; www.puddledockers.com), for nonmotorized boat rentals.
Camping -- Taughannock Falls State Park, Taughannock Park Road/Route 89 in Trumansburg, allows camping; call tel. 800/456-CAMP or 607/387-6739 or visit www.reserveamerica.com for more information. For private campgrounds, check out Spruce Row Campsite & RV Resort, 2271 Kraft Rd. (tel. 607/387-9225), near Taughannock Falls State Park, which has a pool and plenty of family recreation.
Hiking & Biking -- Excellent trails for hiking and biking exist all over the Ithaca area. On the Cornell University campus, there are more than 9 miles of trails operated by Cornell Plantations (tel. 607/255-2400). Six Mile Creek Gorge, on Hudson Street across from the South Hill School, is an old Native American trail that passes a former mill and a wildflower preserve. The beautiful Cascadilla Creek Gorge, at University Avenue and Court Street, is a greenway connecting downtown Ithaca to the colleges on the hills (Cornell and Ithaca College). The gorge walk, past gently cascading waterfalls, is just over a mile long with plenty of stairs for a good workout. The South Hill Recreation Way, off Hudson Street, is a gravel trail built on a railroad track and it's very popular with local joggers, cyclists, and cross-country skiers. You can enter near Crescent Place, where there's a self-guided interpretative nature tour. Trails in and around Ithaca Falls, off Lake Street, are among the most scenic in the area, as are those that lead to the falls in Taughannock Falls State Park, off Route 89 in Trumansburg. The Cayuga Waterfront Trail, when completed over the next few years, will be a 6-mile linear park along the southern tip of Cayuga Lake.
The Cayuga Nature Center, 1420 Taughannock Blvd. (Rte. 89; tel. 607/273-6260), has 5 miles of hiking trails and the TreeTops observation tower. The Circle Greenway, 108 E. Green St. (tel. 607/272-1313), is a 10-mile walk that passes the waterfront, gorges, the Cornell campus, and The Commons downtown.
Trail maps for many of these hikes are available at the tourism information office or local sports shops.
Bike rentals are available from The Outdoor Store, 206 The Commons (tel. 607/273-3891), and Cayuga Mountain Bike Shop, 138 W. State St. (tel. 607/277-6821). Check with these outfitters to see which trails allow mountain bikers.
Golf -- There are half a dozen golf courses in the area; one of the best is Hillendale Golf Course, 218 N. Applegate Rd. (tel. 607/273-2363; www.hillendale.com). Greens fees are $19 during the week, $21 on weekends; discounts for seniors and juniors (under 18) are available.
Swimming -- Buttermilk Falls State Park, Route 13 South (tel. 670/273-5761), has a natural pool at the base of the falls. There is also swimming in Taughannock Falls State Park, off Route 89 in Trumansburg, though areas close to the falls are off-limits. Cass Park, 701 Taughannock Blvd. (Rte. 89N; tel. 607/273-9211), has an Olympic-size pool that's open to the public.
Winter Sports -- Cross-country skiers should head to Taughannock Falls State Park (tel. 607/387-6739), off Route 89 in Trumansburg, or the terrifically named Podunk Cross-Country Ski Center, Podunk Road, Trumansburg (tel. 607/387-3093), which has 7 miles of trails, with rental and instruction available. Most of the state parks in the area allow Nordic skiing. The closest downhill skiing is in Cortland, at Greek Peak Mountain, 200 Rte. 392 (tel. 800/955-2-SKI; www.greekpeak.net). Ice-skating is found at Cass Park Rink & Pool, 701 Taughannock Blvd., Route 89 (tel. 607/273-9211).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.