Watkins Glen is the perfect day trip if you live in Upstate N.Y. During my time in Rochester, I hiked at this breathtaking New York State Park. Located in the Finger Lakes Region and South of Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen has amazing caverns, gorges, and waterfalls. The park offers several hiking trails, but if you want to take the scenic route then the Gorge Trail is your best option.
A good friend from high school, Courtney Davis, joined me on the adventure. We headed out in the morning taking the 90E to 14S – a 1.5 hour drive. As a result, we had plenty of time to soak in the scenic views of Seneca Lake. The drive takes you along the route of many wineries, as well as, passing through the quaint town of Geneva (another great day trip to consider).
The cost to enter Watkins Glen State Park is $8 and parking is plentiful. Immediately, upon entry, a fortress of rock consisting of limestone, shale, and sandstone is the focal point. Located in front of the parking lot are restrooms and a store for snacks or water.
Be prepared to climb a lot of steps at Watkins Glen!
The trail is approximately two miles with about 800 steps so wear comfortable hiking shoes. The surface is slippery from the 19 waterfalls that flow throughout the trail. It’s amazing the improper footwear that people chose for the hike. Needless to say, there was a lot of slipping and sliding going on! There are also a few bridges, including a suspension bridge, and to our surprise, a cemetery, on a different trail back.
Finally, at the end of the trail is another store with a picnic area and restrooms – a great spot to regroup and restock before hiking back. The weather was perfect allowing for an incredible hiking day.
On the way back we stopped at Glenora Wine Cellars for lunch while taking in the views of Seneca Lake and enjoying a glass of bubbly.
Lunch was superb, but we had to make on last stop before heading home. Belhurst Castle, located in Geneva, is an 1880s stone castle which has been transformed into a resort. We took a stroll around the property and perused the gift shop filled with exquisite wine knickknacks. While Courtney did most of the perusing, I couldn’t resist partaking in the wine tasting which was only .50 per tasting. Resisting the urge to purchase a bottle, we hopped back in the car and returned to Rochester having completed a fun-filled and relaxing day.