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Have an awesome autumn at Cornell

Fall is perhaps the most storied season at Cornell and for good reason. Nestled in a region famous for its foliage, trees will soon be aflame with color as campus and the community buzz with activity. As cooler temperatures arrive in Ithaca, there are plenty of outdoor and indoor activities to help you celebrate the season.

Leaf-looking at its finest

Fall is a great season to enjoy the outdoors. Considered one of the best fall hikes in Ithaca, trails at Sapsucker Woods are a must-do for any nature lover. These four miles of trails offer an unbeatable combination of gorgeous scenery and first-class bird watching. More than 240 species have been observed through eBird, a collaborative enterprise managed by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Be sure to peruse the Autumn Trail Guide to Sapsucker Woods to get an idea of what you might see before you go. Download Merlin Bird ID to help identify the feathered friends you encounter on your birding adventure.

Fall is one of the best times to visit the Cornell Lab for Ornithology, with four miles of trails to explore in Sapsucker Woods.

While you’re there, enjoy all the Lab of O has to offer. From guided bird walks to self-guided tours and an array of indoor activities, the Lab of O won’t disappoint. Stuck inside? Enjoy the peaceful and entertaining Cornell FeederWatch.

Of course, Sapsucker Woods is only one option for peeping leaves. Fall color is in abundance throughout Cornell Botanic Gardens. Seasonal highlights include ornamental grasses and ripening produce in September, a plethora of places to enjoy fall views in October and fall hiking, late fall flowers and garden architecture in November. Gorgeous scenes aren’t hard to find at Cornell in fall.

Picking a good time

Apple picking is synonymous with fall and Cornell researchers have perfected the art of apple growing with new, flavorful varieties. Downtown Ithaca hosts the popular Apple Harvest Festival in late September and features fresh apples and produce, baked goods, food trucks, live music, a market and a cider trail. If you can’t make it to the festival or if you’re in the mood for a crunchy and satisfying snack, harvest an apple from the beloved vending machine in the Mann Library lobby near the Department of Horticulture. Apple and produce u-pick options are also available in Ithaca, Tompkins County and the surrounding areas.

The Annual Downtown Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival.

Spooky season

There’s no shortage of eerie activities on the Hill. Carve a pumpkin with downloadable Cornell stencils, including a moonlit McGraw Tower — just keep your pumpkin away from the top of the real McGraw Tower. If, like a zombie, you have an appetite for (learning about) brains, visit the Wilder Brain Collection for an unforgettable experience befitting the season. If it’s witches you fancy, don’t miss the extensive Witchcraft Collection. The largest collection of its kind, there are more than 3,000 titles that explore and document the history of the Inquisition and persecution of witchcraft.

Spooky season opportunities abound at Cornell, with the Witchcraft Collection, Wilder Brain Collection and pumpkin carving.

Yell Cornell

Cheer on your classmates during one of the many athletic events occurring in the fall. From volleyball to football, rowing to field hockey (and so much more), there are no shortages of opportunities. Visit Lynah Rink and cheer on the women’s and men’s hockey teams, proving why Cornell fans are the best there are. Brush up on your Cornell traditions and rehearse the Alma Mater before you go.

Enjoy fall weather at any number of fall athletics events.

Seasonal (artistic) delights

For those soggy fall days that aren’t conducive for apple picking or hiking, consider checking out exhibitions at the Johnson Museum. “Shared Space: Seasonal color shift of species succession” at Mann Library is one of many Cornell Biennial installations across campus. The living paintings of “Shared Space”, created with mud from Beebe Lake, show a unique progression of life. The online “Apples to Cider” exhibit is perfect for the season, as is “Unturned Leaves”.

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum rises above fall foliage in an aerial view.

As campus cascades in color, there are myriad opportunities to explore the sights and sounds of fall from indoors or out. Whether from the comfort of your computer or through a senses-drenching hike, have an awesome autumn at Cornell.

Written by Jesse Osbourne
Strategic Communications at Cornell University



Cornell’s mission is to discover, preserve and disseminate knowledge, to educate the next generation of global citizens, and to promote a culture of broad inquiry throughout and beyond the Cornell community.

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