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Black Diamond Trail will one day stretch 15 miles to link four state parks in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Currently, 8 miles of the trail are open, which follow the Lehigh Valley Railroad route whose Black Diamond Express once ran from Buffalo to New York City and gives the rail-trail its name.
The unpaved trail runs through a rural backdrop as it makes its way from Cass Park in Ithaca to Taughannock Falls State Park near Trumansburg. The southern half of the trail (about 4 miles) offers a pleasant walk from Ithaca. There are no services along this trail.
Plans are under way to take the trail further south to Buttermilk Falls State Park and Robert Treman State Park, and include a connection to the planned Gateway Trail.
At the south end of the trail, parking is available in Cass Park (701 Taughannock Blvd.). At its north end, you can park in Taughannock Falls State Park.
The trail was perfect in late July 2019. A bit hard to find the beginning in Ithaca, but it's right behind (west of) the Ithaca Children's Garden. The route is a steady but gentle rise almost all the way to Taughannock Falls State Park, but of course that makes it sheer rolling pleasure on the way back. You can also enjoy a couple miles of extra trail, paved, along the Ithaca waterfront over to Stewart Park at the southeast corner of Cayuga Lake.
Easy grade to walk with sunny and shaded areas. It is good that cyclist now give audibles while passing hikers. Perhaps a few pet / waste containers and/or port-a-johns can soon be added.
The name “Black Diamond” comes from the old railroad on which this trail resides. It is an amazing engineering feat how this trail provides a steady (easy) grade all the way up to the top of Taughannock Falls from lake level. The surface is crushed stone and the entire length is well maintained. It is a real delight (even on a hot day) due to the shade provided by the hillside trees. The trail goes North along the East side of the hill. There are several (8?) road crossings along the way that are well marked, although there is little road traffic.
The trail itself is great, especially the middle section from miles 3-5. There one can experience some of the wildness our country once had. Tall dead trees brought to life by ivy. Roads and 'civilization' not noticeable.
Signage not good, many intersections of 'Black Diamond' and 'Stop'. Mile markers every 1/4 mile are handy.
Main issue: finding the trail. The southern Cass end is somewhat obscure, but the northern Taughannock falls end is even worse. Need a detailed map to locate it.
The Black Diamond trail should be continued northward. It would run through a T'burg farmer's land (Black Diamond Farm), and could be extended all the way to Rochester?
My wife and I rode out tandem from Cass Park to the north end at Taughannock Falls. Starting at Cass Park, the trail has a long, steady (but gentle) climb for about 4 miles. The surface is crushed stone like it says, but the size is like fine gravel (think fish tank). Although I didn't ride with them, I plan to switch to my MTB slicks to reduce the rolling resistance. There is a small parking lot near the northern end, by the falls, where we found a picnic table to eat a bag lunch at. There are otherwise no services or restrooms along this trail. The return ride back to Cass Park was a bit faster, being downhill most of the way.
I live within 200 yards of this trail so it's my go to for exercise, love it!
I tend to agree with a previous post about this trail. We pulled in to Cass Park and rode our bikes all around the park amd found no signs. Had to ask park assistant. If he didnt give us directions we would have never found it. Other than that we will definately drive 2 hours to visit this trail again and again. I cant wait for it to be completed.
My wife and i took our tandem bike from Cass Park to Gorge Rd. yesterday. It was a very pleasant ride and beautiful through the shady woods mostly. The interchanges with crossing roads were well marked. One problem was finding it in the first place. We didn't see any signs from the Cass Park trail and ended up crossing several grassy areas to find our way onto the trail. I don't see how a visitor to the area would find it at all.
We checked out this trail today along with the water front trail and logged 22 miles. Has to be the best trail around N.Y. Extremely well maintained and very scenic. Can't wait to ride this trail again this fall, will be beautiful.
Excellent ride.Has to be one of the nicest trails around.
You can now ride from Cass Park in Ithaca to Taughannock State park or vice / versa. My recent ride on a recumbent trike was awesome!! Great surface for ALL types of bikes / trikes, beautiful scenery -- A five star trail!!!!
This is a great trail for walking or cycling. The grade is gentle, and the stone-dust surface is excellent.
Reviews from prior to the opening of the trail in Fall, 2016 should be ignored, as they reflect the undeveloped condition of the trail.
Road for the first time today. Fun and easy to ride .highly recommend this trail.
The first 8 mile section of the BDT is done and it's wonderful.
The Black Diamond Trail has been resurfaced from Cass Park to Taughannock Park is ready to ride!
The NYS Parks Dept is actively working on the BDT from the northern end. It is partially complete now and expected to be fully completed to Cass Park in Ithaca by late fall 2016. My advice is to wait until late October to ride it. When it's done, it will be a beauty
trail is about 3/4 finished and compared with before this is fantastic. can't wait for it to be completed.
When the Ithaca bubble pops we might finish the trail.
Ithaca's Black Diamond Trail is not completed yet as of August 10th, 2015. The most important work, putting the two missing bridges back, has been completed. However, the trail surface is wanting improvement in some places, as the signs make explicit: "Not suitable for a trail or any other purpose." However, if you're persistent, you can make it all the way up the hill from Ithaca to Tunkhannock Falls State Park.
Start in Ithaca at Cass Park. Park in the longer of the two parking lots. The Black Diamond Trail is unmarked here, but underneath the power line. As you go up the hill, it's a nice single-track trail suitable for all bicycles. It's not improved, but it's smooth.
The trail surface gets worse and worse the further up the hill you go. Keep going up to Trumansburg, though, even on side roads, because the Taughannock Falls are worth seeing.
The trail is routed down to the parking lot for the falls, but if you continue on the railbed, it will take you across two bridges. The first one gives you an awesome view of the upper (smaller) falls and associated gorge. The second one is a small bridge over an even smaller former highway. The trail ends at this point. North of Trumansburg the railbed has been plowed away.
Because the trail isn't really finished, I chose to ride back on the highway. I think that may be the most enjoyable route even though there are some up hills going down to Ithaca. The shoulders are good until you get within the Ithaca city limits, at which point you'll want to take the lane because there is no shoulder at all, it's quite steep, and you can easily coast at 30MPH, and damn the cars behind you that want to break the speed limit.
The 8 miles of trail between Cass Park and Taughannock Park is very much not ready for use. Several sections are closed with "Warning, Area Closed- Dangerous Conditions Exist" signs. Parts are "open" but have giant piles of dirt & construction equipment parked on them, and other sections are swampy & bug infested, with thick mud that will suction the shoes off your feet. Not recommended until construction is complete.
We found this trail easily behind the children's garden in Cass park. It was a pleasant surprise to find such a gem close to home (Corning). They left this trail more rugged than other rail for trails we have rode with our 8 year old daughter and that was great. This was a mix of single track to standard width riding two by two. Large mix of stones and bumps to challenge our emerging mountain bike rider. Well covered with trees and shade enough to ride trial on a hot day. Plenty of water falls to look at and a few large enough to dip your sweaty head in if you so desire. The trail was not quite finished yet. We rode 5 miles to what appeared to be the end and then turned around and came back. Ten miles total. This is marked as one of our new local favorites. Large knobby mountain bike type tires were a must. Skinny road bike tires would not be suitable for this ride. If your looking for something to challenge a young rider with slight incline and a rougher surface this is the trail for you.
Spring 2015 - I knew generally where the trail is and therefore found it rather easy to identify, but lacking that knowledge, there is a lot of area in Cass Park and the trail is still not marked in any way. In any case, it starts as a gravel path behind the Children's Garden off the paved trail and quickly heads off to the right.
Also on the down side, it is still a combination of ballast and grass and has many rough sections, many of which are under construction. It was therefore bouncy at times but had very little mud or water and was manageable on a hybrid bike.
I biked about 3.5 miles up the trail today and it is a scenic joy at this time of year. I passed about 19 waterfalls worth photographing, and 19 more which are small but scenic and would be interesting in any area less full of gorges than the Finger Lakes. Many of these will be dry in the summer, but for now, enjoy!
There are nice views of the lake this time of year, too, which will disappear as the leaves develop.
I look forward to the Summer 2014 completion, whenever that actually is, but will return.
Figuring how the description says this should be completed summer of 2014, I figured August of 2014 should have a good portion ( or all ) done. No, that is not the case. I couldn't find the trail. We pulled into Taughannock park, and none of the park employees were familiar with the trail. Finally found someone who told us how to find it, but told us it was still not complete. Drove up Gorge road, made a right onto the next road, there is a small parking lot we pulled into. This leads to more hiking trails of the park (rim trail I think). There are some steps, we walked our bikes up there, and then saw the trail. It is still very over grown, mostly grass and weeds, bushes overgrown, and lots and lots of bugs flying around. Some sections were muddy from recent rains, some had really big rocks. We went about 4 miles or so, then gave up, it was not an enjoyable ride. I've submitted some pics.
After circling Cass park for an hour trying to find this trail, we finally asked a police officer. Its not marked..at all. Although he knew where it was an that its called Black Diamond..no one there local we asked knew?
If you go- you cross the street from the rink, on a tarred riding trail, and head past a ball field.its there you will see a trail going up a hill... go up and turn right... mostly grass..but you can tell it would have been railroad. We did not find it to be bad, a slight inclne...first mile or 2 in the sun, then into the woods, with RT 89 to your right the whole way. HOWEVER. we came across a big blocked dipped that said to not continue, hazardous, and you will be prosecuted. Both sides of the trail at this point are POSTED and electric fencing. We continued a bit further..but felt we were on private property, so all in all only did 4 miles in and back. It will probably be nice once it is done and marked.
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