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Tompkins County: Danby

The Danby Town Hall in the Town of Danby, Tompkins County, New York USA

The Town of Danby is just south of the Town of Ithaca in Tompkins County. The presence of glaciers thousands of years ago is evident in Danby with its many creek-lined valleys separated by rounded hills. These hills are covered with a wide variety of tree species, including the state tree--the white pine--that, in autumn, create a tapestry of color that provides some of the most beautiful leaf peeping opportunities on the East Coast. Peak leaf peeping time in the Finger Lakes is around October 1.


Danby is also the location of Jennings Pond, a geological anomaly that drains in two directions. Read more about the geology of the pond and what you can do there.


Finger Lakes Trail marker in the Finger Lakes, New York USATwenty-four percent of the land mass of the Town--7,100 acres/2,873 hectares--is state forest through which runs the Finger Lakes Trail, a segment of the 4,600-mi./7,403-km. North County Trail. Here, in the Danby State Forest are many opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, birding, and photography. Motorized vehicles and bicycles are not permitted in the forest, but biking can be done on the miles of dirt roads that run through the forest. (ATVs are not permitted on any roads in Danby.) The forest has two lean-tos--the Chestnut and the Tamarack--that can be used for overnight shelter. No other facilities are provided in the forest, so water must be gotten from creeks and streams or carried in.


The Town is also home to the Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve, a 500-acre parcel owned by the Finger Lakes Land Trust that is open to the public. Located in West Danby with a well-marked parking area The Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve in Danby, New York USAon New York State Route 34/96, the Biodiversity Preserve actually borders the Danby State Forest just below a series of high points called Thatcher's Pinnacles (1,800 ft./548.6 m.) that looks out over the wide valley in which the Preserve is located. The Preserve has a variety of habitats and is an excellent place to photograph fungi, watch birds, and look for reptiles and amphibians.


The Danby Federated Church in Danby, New York USAWhen the Indians frequented the region, they passed through what is now Danby on their travels from the Susquehanna River in what is now Owego to the southern end of Cayuga Lake. In the late 1700s, when the Indians were driven out of the region, settlers farmed the land in Danby, establishing three distinct hamlets in the Town--Danby, West Danby, and South Danby. Each hamlet had its own stores, churches, school, and post office. Stage coaches and then trains ran through Danby and West Danby. Mills were set up on some of the creeks. At this time the Town had around 3,000 inhabitants.


Danby's hilly rocky soil is difficult to farm, and in the 1930s the State bought out a number of residents and established the Danby State Forest. If you hike through the forest, you can still find stone foundations of some of the houses where these people lived. (Look for old-fashioned garden plants like lilacs, daylilies, and wisterias that still struggle in the forest shade. These are usually near old foundations.) Passenger trains stopped running through the Town, and today the only train that runs through West Danby transports non-perishables and never stops in the hamlet as there is no station.


In the 1990s the last post office in the Town was closed. As shopping malls and franchises sprang up in Ithaca, the small stores in the Town of Danby closed. The Town is now a bedroom community of Ithaca. It still has around 3,000 inhabitants, many of whom enjoy the rural atmosphere of the Town and work out of their homes or commute to Ithaca or other nearby cities.


Brochure (pdf) (best if printed on 8.5" x 14" paper)

Trees in their autumn splendor provide shade to one of Danby's lovely older homes.

Tourism Information

Town of Danby

Town Hall

1830 Danby Rd.

Ithaca, NY 14850


Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau

904 E. Shore Dr.

Ithaca, NY 14850


GPS Coordinates

Danby and South Danby 42.325°N 76.481°W

West Danby 42.319°N 76.526°W

Topo Maps

Danby (north)

Danby and South Danby

West Danby

N.B. These are very large maps and may encompass more than the Town of Danby.

GIS Physical Map (pdf)

Accommodations in Danby

Log Country Inn Bead & Breakfast

4 La Rue Rd., Spencer, NY 14883, 800-274-4771

A Comfort Woods Guest House

971 Comfort Rd., Spencer, NY 14883, 607-217-5775

Arts & Entertainment

See Tompkins County

Recreational Activities

Restaurants and Pubs

See Tompkins County


See Tompkins County

Local Businesses

Bloom's Sewing & Tailoring

210 Yaple Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850, 607-272-8498

Contented Country Gifts

297 Jersey Hill Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850, 607-272-3009

Danby Hardwoods (woodworking)

299 Hornbrook Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850, 607-272-8561

Grant's Plants

97 Michigan Hollow Rd., Spencer, NY 14883, 607-272-7335

Highland Farms Boarding Kennel and Store

168 West Miller Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850, 607-273-3251

Jean Nowack's Country Caning Shop

2628 West Danby Rd., Spencer, NY 14883, 607-564-9241

Magical Garden Preschool/Daycare

by appointment only, 607-351-8809

Nelson Road Sewing & Alterations

83 Nelson Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850, 607-273-4041

The Oasis (dance club)

1230 Danby Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850, 607-273-1505

Seigard's Day Care

356 South Danby Rd., Spencer, NY 14883, 607-273-2003

Southern Fingerlakes Outfitters

275 Hornbrook Rd.,Ithaca, NY 14850, 607-277-6492

Sunnywood Design Collective

272 Comfort Road Ithaca, NY 14850, 607-330-2686

Thomas L. Hartwell Photography


Tobias Dean, Furnituremaker

124 Yaple Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850, 607-273-1347








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