Monday, August 12, 2013

Watkins Glen Hike, Part 1

Watkins Glen State Park
Schuyler County,
New York

Hiking Trails:

Gorge Trail: Unblazed

Total Time: 1:15 hours (with small children)
Estimated Distance: 1.5 miles (approximately)
Level of Difficulty: Easy (going down), but slippery where wet
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Points Of Interest: Deep gorge with beautiful scenery and waterfalls
Pros: Amazing experience and waterfalls, camping area on site
Cons: Trail very commercialized, very busy and crowded with hundreds of people

Hiking Partners:
My wife and children

Watkins Glen is a well-known scenic gorge in the Finger Lakes Region in Upstate New York. My family and I took a camping trip here, pitching a tent and spending the week here at Watkins Glen State Park. Of course the first day that we were here we hiked the gorge. Being that I have a small child and carried a baby on my back, we decided to start at the top and hike down towards the bottom, to make it easy for all parties present. This is definitely the wise way to do this hike, especially with small children. Thankfully we made it all the way to the end.

We parked the car at the upper entrance to Watkins Glen off Route 409. This is a very quiet area of the park and has nice facilities such as a playground and snack shop. It is at an elevation of 1,002 feet. We hiked down the Gorge Trail, which starts here, and went down the many steps at "Jacob's Ladder" down to the brook. This part of the brook has the trail right next to the water, and it is much quieter than further down the trail. After the Mile Point Bridge it gets much busier with many more people. We continued along the Gorge Trail all the way to the end, passing many named veiwpoints along the way such as the Spiral Gorge, Rainbow Falls, Central Cascade, Glen Cathedral, and the Narrows. Near the end is the Cavern Cascade, which is a very impressive waterfalls with a tall drop that you can go right behind.

The bottom of the hike opens up to a parking area which is right by the Village of Watkins Glen, about a block or two from Main Street. The elevation at the bottom entrance is 479 feet. There is a shuttle back up to the Upper Entrance which runs every 15 minutes, and we took this shuttle back up, where we enjoyed a picnic lunch back at the top.

Map of the Route

The Beginning of the Gorge Trail, as it Starts it Descent at "Jacob's Ladder"

The Relatively Quieter Upper Part of the Glen

The Brook Going Through a Narrow Crevice,
Taken from the Mile Point Bridge

Descending Through the Gorge

I Think this is Called the Spiral Gorge

Rainbow Falls, a Small, Drippy Waterfall That you can Walk Behind

Behind Rainbow Falls

Central Cascade, a High and Narrow Waterfall

This area is called "The Narrows"

The Top of the Cavern Cascade, where the Trail Goes Behind the Waterfalls

Full View of the Central Cascade

Small Waterfall Near the Entrance,
with the Cavern Cascades Behind.

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