Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park

To many people talking about Watkins Glen brings forth an image of high energy. Watkins Glen was the home of the first auto racing in the United States after WWII, and is home to Watkins Glen International Speedway. Many of the country’s best races can be found at the speedway as well as special events. However, The area offers much more than auto racing. The glen offers activities for those who like the outdoors as well as those that enjoy the finer things in life.

The village of Watkins Glen is located at the south end of Seneca Lake. In the early days of automotive travel, it was a popular overnight destination. The village was halfway between New York City and Niagara Falls, then a two-day drive. The Finger Lake region of New York is a very popular destination for those wanting to get away from big city life. Known for the lakes and rolling countryside, The Finger Lakes region is within the Allegheny Plateaus which is a portion of the Appalachian Plateau. The shores of Seneca Lake are less populated than most of the other Finger Lakes, still you can find many things to do in the area including wine tours, hiking, boating and camping.

Visit Watkins Glen Park

If hiking and camping is what interest you, even mildly, then the Watkins Glen State Park is a must-visit destination. The New York Park website has this to say about the park:”Watkins Glen State Park 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 (ca. 122 meters) past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Rim trails overlook the gorge. Campers and day-visitors can enjoy the Olympic-size pool, scheduled summer tours through the gorge, tent and trailer campsites, picnic facilities and excellent fishing in nearby Seneca Lake or Catherine Creek, which is renowned for its annual spring run of rainbow trout.”

The park has three entrances. The main entrance is located in the village and is the starting point of the Gorge Trail. There is also a welcome center and souvenir shop here. Parking is limited here with some additional parking located across the road. The Upper entrance is near the opposite end of the park and the furthest point of the Gorge Trail. One point to note: the main entrance is at a 440-foot elevation, while the Upper Entrance is at 1010 foot elevation. So walking from the entrance to the upper is all uphill. The south entrance is on the south side of the park and is the entrance for the camping and swimming pool. You can also access the trail system from this point as well.

WatkinsGlenTrailMap

Hiking

At the main entrance you have two trail options, the gorge trail which follows the water and the Indian trail that goes to the to of the gorge and connects to the north rim trail. When you enter the gorge trail from the main entrance, you start by entering a tunnel carved into the rocks. Then cross a bridge that looks down over the last waterfalls. This trail is moderately difficult mostly due to uneven wet surfaces. The views are breathtaking. The Indian trail starts with a flight of steps that take you up to the rim. Once at the top, the trail is tree covered and only a moderate climb. Along the Indian trail are some overlooks that peer down to the gorge. There are also a few points where you can take steps down to the gorge trail. There is a suspension bridge that connects the north rim trial and the south rim trail near the campgrounds at the south entrance.

The campgrounds have sites for tents and RVs. It also has some rustic cabins.

The park is just one of the many things you can do here. This is a great weekend getaway from anywhere in the northeast.