WATKINS GLEN TRAIL (Watkins Glen)
If we’re going to talk about the best hikes in the Finger Lakes, let’s get this one right out of the way – the famed walking trail through the stunning water-created glen that this famous village is named after. No matter whose list of “Best Things to do in the Finger Lakes” you may come across, this walk will be on that list. And it’s gorgeous. (pun somewhat intended).
Part of the outstanding Watkins Glen State Park, this 2 mile hike meanders along it’s creator, Glen Creek, with a few alternative paths that branch off along the rim of the gorge as well. There is elevation – the trail drops over 400 feet from start to end – but that just adds one of the real reasons to come – the 19 waterfalls that cascade over the shale overhangs along the route. You will actually walk behind some of them!
Things to know: As with most hiking locations, sensible shoes are a must, especially as some damp parts of the slate walkway can be slightly slippery. There is a charge to park at the entrance, but you can park somewhere else and walk to the park if you wish. Timing can be meaningful for two reasons – crowds and weather. It can get quite crowded if you are trying to go on a busy high-season weekend at mid-day. Going earlier or later in the day, or on a weekday can help. Hot temps are not usually an issue, as the cool and shady glen is often a nice place to be on those days. But rain can make a big difference. If the region is going through a dry spell, the creek will obviously have less flow, and the waterfalls may be somewhat less impressive. And, if a recent downpour, or extended rainy front comes through, the water rush can be impactful, as well. Just things to think about. One more thing to know – no pets on the trails.
For more information: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/142/