Six Mile Creek, Mulholland Wildflower Preserve and Wells ( AKA Businessman’s Lunch ) Falls
Meet-up: Dirt parking off Giles Street at the intersection with Water Street, south of Route 79. Parking can be limited, which is why we generally only do this as a Wednesday hike when group sizes tend to be smaller.
Click here for a map showing the spot. It’s just a few minutes’ drive from The Commons.
A Youtube video on the area:
(26) Ithaca Trails: Six Mile Creek and Second Dam – YouTube
This is one of our best hikes within the city of Ithaca.
The trail first takes us along the edge of a highly picturesque stretch of Six Mile Creek, through a beautiful area of wildflowers and pine trees.
Then we head uphill to a dirt service road that leads to a dramatic look-out over the closer of two reservoirs along the creek, in a setting of beautiful meadows.
Shortly after the first reservoir overlook, the trail deteriorates significantly, so the group will not hike further during sanctioned group hikes, particularly in winter conditions.
For those who may want to hike further on their own, head steeply downhill back to the creek level, this time in an overgrown flood plain full of marsh-type growth. There are two ways forward, though one can sometimes be impassable; both can be wet and muddy.
Potter’s Falls, above the Second Dam reservoir, spills into a lovely pool surrounded by rocks in a bucolic setting. It’s a great place to sit around for a while.
If you’re extremely adventurous, you can push on upstream to the dam at the bottom of the upper reservoir. But this stretch is only for those with excellent balance and confidence who have no fear of heights. Otherwise, this stretch is a nightmare. It runs along the face of a cliff that drops straight down into the creek; the path is extremely narrow and not all that stable – strictly for daredevils.
There are other trails on this side of the creek that are also very dangerous, and only for thrill-seekers. Click here to see an interesting relief map of the creek watershed — very rugged.
Returning to the parking area, hikers may cross Giles Street and turn left to cross the bridge. Soon after crossing the bridge, look to the right for the blue blazed trail that leads to the Wells ( AKA Businessman’s Lunch ) falls. The blue blazes split into two distinct trails; the lower trail follows a sometimes washed-out path downhill to the base of the falls, while the higher blue blazed section loops around the hillside to come out at the top of the falls and from there back to Giles Street.
Some of the interesting aspects of this part of the hike are the old and decaying remnants of industrial structures that line the cliffs near the falls, as well as the sheer cliff faces on the opposite side of the creek.
Last edit: 06/2023 JFR