Named one of the most beautiful places in New York State, Watkins Glen State Park is a can’t miss if you’re visiting Central New York.
Watkins Glen State Park is, honestly, in what seems like a really random place to be. Granted, it’s natural so it was there first but the area surrounding Watkins Glen is built up with Dunkins, hotels, gas stations, etc. which seems out of place for this beautiful park. Put that aside, park in the lot at the gate or across the street and separate yourself from the KFC next door.
At the bottom of the main path is a visitor’s center with a store, small shop and even smaller bar. Once you make it past there, you will go up the small hallway and stairs up to the Gorge Trail. The walk itself can be wet depending on the weather and the various falls and know that you’re going to be walking up a bunch of stairs. Granted, the stairs have breaks and aren’t continuous but they are there – all 832 of them.
You can go at your own pace and, again, depending on the weather, the park may be packed with people or pretty empty but chances are that there will be people in your photos. Overall, we didn’t notice all of the stairs and every view was beautiful. The photos don’t do it justice. Once you hit the big waterfall, there’s a sign that tells you that you can go on for trail walking or turn around if you just wanted to do the small trail. Your options are to walk the whole Gorge Trail back or to take one of the other trails to the start. The other trails are a little further away from the waterfalls but you can still see them and don’t involve any stairs. Also, the Gorge Trail doesn’t allow pets so if you have your dog, you’ll have to go on the other trail anyway.
When you’re done, take a look through the store and grab some homemade ice cream from the ice cream shop down the street. Everything is pretty shaded so aside from the humidity, the sun won’t be hitting you directly. It’s a chill walk with a beautiful view and the trip isn’t that far from home!