Watkins Glen State Park, New York is the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks, with a reputation for leaving visitors spellbound. Within two miles, the glen’s stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course.
In 2015, the park was chosen from more than 6,000 state parks across the nation as a nominee in the USA TODAY Readers’ Choice Poll for Best State Park in the United States , and won third place!
In this throwback pic taken on August 4, 2015, visitors pass under Cavern Cascade at Watkins Glen State Park in Watkins Glen. Cavern and Rainbow Falls are the only two falls in the park visitors can walk under. This is made possible by the wearing away of a thin layer of shale rock underneath a tougher layer of sandstone. Cavern Cascade and other waterfalls have created Watkins Glen by eroding the rocks deep into the hillside.
The main waterfall is the Cavern Cascade. Despite its name, this is a 60′ plunge falls. Can you see the wooden banister behind the waterfall? This is where the trail passes before ascending through a spiral staircase to the top of the falls. If you continue on the Gorge Trail, you will walk under the Suspension Bridge which is 85 feet above the creek. During the great flood of 1935, the water rose to within five feet of it! Much of the stone masonry work in the park was built after this flood.
This moisture laden hanging valley has been twisted and carved by Glen Creek. Check out the below pic and look at the rim of the gorge above. 12000 yrs ago, Glen Creek flowed up there. The gorge did not exist, and this chasm was full of solid rock. Since then, the creek has gradually eroded the canyon.
The main attraction is the trails through the Glen, particularly the Gorge trail. The path follows the gorge, going behind waterfalls, through tunnels and over bridges.
To explore the park, we had the option of three trails: the Indian trail, the South Rim trail, and the Gorge trail. Both the South Rim and Indian trails run in the wooded areas on either side of upper edges of the gorge. Both trails meet up with the Gorge trail at various points in the park. Be sure to grab a map to keep track of the main sites. The Gorge trail is the only trail that follows the twists and turns of the gorge. It also provides access to the stone bridges and offers the best views of the numerous waterfalls.
At Rainbow Falls the trail, once again, allows the hiker to pass behind a waterfall—pass behind the wall of water, feel the spray from the plume, and emerge to climb a set of stairs and cross yet another bridge spanning the creek. Visit Rainbow Falls in late afternoon to see rainbows reflected off the falls on a sunny day.
Watkins Glen State Park, New York is an incredible place for a family hike. In this picture, a child is balancing the stones in the clear and inviting pools of water called Glen of Pools.
Watkins Glen State Park is so incredibly beautiful that even after all this time(it’s been more than 2 years I first visited the park), I have not once forgotten about Watkins Glen State Park and of all the places on my travel bucket list I want to return to, this park will always be at the top.
1009 N Franklin St
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Directions : https://goo.gl/maps/LuSJ1jefist
Best time to visit: Spring and fall mornings, during the week. Spring has low visitor traffic, high flow, and bright yellow colors in the surrounding foliage. Summer brings more tourists, low flow, and hot weather, when combined with the humidity, can make the hike slightly unpleasant. Fall brings back mild weather, sometimes more flow, and beautiful orange and yellow leaves that dust the dull gray rock of the glen. The Gorge Trail is closed in winter and the upper reaches of the park are frequently used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.