Watkins Glen State Park-Gorge Trail
Updated: Sep 10, 2022
We spent a week in the Finger Lakes New York area. Our base camp was Sampson State Park about 40 minutes North of Watkins Glen State Park. Sampson State Park is a nice quiet campground to stay at in early June with a lot of amenities for our brood.
Watkins Glen feels like a park in the city. The parking lot for the Gorge trail is across the street from the County Sheriff and Courthouse and down the street from a used car dealership. Parking is limited. We arrived early and by the time we finished the trail and returned to our truck before lunch the parking lots were full. Pro Tip, if you are staying at a State Park your campground park pass will substitute for a parking pass in the lot. So, hang your campground park pass on your rear view mirror and ignore the parking meters!
According to the NY park website https://parks.ny.gov/parks/watkinsglen/maps.aspx The stream flows over 19 waterfalls, combining for 400 feet of elevation change. We were impressed with the magnitude of the hike and the construction of the trail. The tunnels were fun. The stone work adds to the beauty of the trail. The stone knee wall providing safeguards for hikers and the stone stairs are in great shape and appropriate for the gorge. There are many features of the trail including stone bridges that allow hikers to see above the falls and straight on views of the gorge. Additionally, the trail travels behind and next to falls in a way that allows people to get close to the water and feel and hear the flow of water.
There are a few rules to the trail. One is no pets allowed. Pets on the gorge trail would be difficult for people. The trail is tight and heavily travelled. Dogs could cause unnecessary conflict and might even send people over the edge of the trail into the rocks and water below. Two, is don’t throw rocks. There are many loose rocks on the trail. You will be fined if caught by NY officials and it is dangerous for other hikers. The trails also require carry in/carry out rules and trash cans are limited. It’s a good policy for hikers overall and even though this is an urban trail it would be difficult for NY staff to haul garbage out of the trail to dumpsters.
We enjoyed our hike of Watkins Glen. Our brood found it helpful for everyone to have cameras so they could get their favorite picture from their eyes. Two hiking poles were used by the kids throughout the hike. We find that it not only supports their hiking ability but it also gives them something to fidget with. Finally, we carry Teton hiking packs with many snacks, water, and a stuffed animal or two. We didn’t need to use the water bladders on any of our hikes in the Finger Lakes. There was plenty of shade, places to stop and rest, and we carried bottled water instead.
To see more check out our YouTube video of our hike of Watkins Glen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MIDuE-Fd10 Of all the hikes in the finger lakes,his was our favorite hike for its many waterfalls, the trail construction, level of difficulty, and gorge height and rock formations.
We hiked these Falls while in the Finger Lakes
Watkins Glen Falls
Robert Treman State Park Falls trail
We look forward to sharing the other hikes with you soon. Thank you for spending time here with us. What did you find fun at Watkins Glen? What questions do you have?