Sweedler Nature Preserve waterfall wednesday blog cover
Adventures,  Painting Series,  Waterfall Wednesday

Waterfall Wednesday: Sweedler Preserve

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember me previously mentioning Sweedler Preserve and my little mishap with reading the map (reread here).  I’ve been reading up on the waterfall and the trails in this preserve and there are many young, experienced hikers that have commented on how steep and strenuous the upper parts of the trail are.  I guess that makes me feel a little better.  Next time I visit I will plan to park at the bottom area like recommended. 

Photo of Sweedler Preserve trail in Ithaca NY by Laura Jaen Smith

Sweedler Preserve is located on the edge of Ithaca, New York along Lick Brook.  There are three different preserved sections along Lick Brook – Sweedler Preserve, Thayer Preserve, and Lick Brook Natural Area – with two miles of trails that cross throughout.  There also is a trail to Buttermilk Falls State Park which is just nearby.  I think this shaded relief map (below) is so cool.  It shows the different gorges in Ithaca and how they empty into Cayuga Lake. 

How about a quick waterfall recap?  From the top right:
map of gorges in Ithaca from Cayuga Lake
Image courtesy of: Cornell University DLESE Annual Meeting 2002 (link below in resources)

Lick Brook has three major waterfalls.  Sweedler Preserve Lower Falls is the easiest of the three to view and can be found along the bottom portion of the white-blazed trail.  The waterfall is 47 feet high with an additional 8 feet of cascades just below.  If the water is low enough, you can walk right up close to the waterfall. 

Photo of Sweedler Preserve Lick Brook Waterfall in Ithaca NY by Laura Jaen Smith
Photo of Sweedler Preserve in Ithaca NY by Laura Jaen Smith. Forest area with sunlight filtering through trees

Sweedler Preserve was previously known as Lost Gorge.  After the Revolutionary War, the land was cleared for timber and agriculture.  Eventually the farms were abandoned and the land began to recover and regrow into forest.  In the 1970’s Moss Sweedler, a mathematician and Cornell professor, purchased the Lost Gorge.  In 1993, the Finger Lakes Land Trust purchased 128 acres of land from the Sweedlers to protect it from encroaching development projects.  This is when Sweedler Preserve at Lick Brook was created.

Painting Sweedler Preserve

Sweedler Preserve by Laura Jaen Smith. Square acrylic landscape painting of waterfall on Lick Brook Ithaca NY.
Sweedler Preserve, 6x6 acrylic on wood panel; click on picture for purchase information

My favorite part about this waterfall in Sweedler Preserve is how green the vegetation is that grows along the sides and how the greens seemed to glow in the evening sunlight.  The logs in front of the lower cascades were interesting to me so I made to sure to include those in the painting also.  The waterfall was just a couple small trickles when I visited in rainy June last year so I imagine it may be one of the ones that doesn’t have much water during the summer months.    

I know I’ve said this before, but I really enjoy how unique each waterfall is.  (I also like how I usually can identify the correct waterfall from a random picture due to the time that I’ve studied each during the 50 New York Waterfalls project.)

Have you visited Sweedler Preserve before?

Resources & Further Learning

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