Watkins Glen State Park is located in New York State’s Finger Lakes region along the shores of Seneca Lake. Its home in the small village of the same name is well known not only for the popular park but for Watkins Glen International, one of the country’s most famous automobile road racing tracks.
The park offers dramatic scenery centered around a stream running through a narrow, deep valley (or glen). The valley is surrounded by rocky cliffs stretching 200 feet up from the valley floor. The formation of the glen created 19 waterfalls to enjoy on your walk along the park’s Gorge Trail. You can also view the scenery from the Rim Trail above.
Watkins Glen State Park opened to the public in 1863 and operated as a tourist resort until 1906. The land was then purchased by New York State and was managed by a preservation society for five years before being fully taken over by the state in 1911.
In 2015, the USA Today Readers’ Choice Poll for Best State Park in the US, Watkins Glen came in third place! Letchworth State Park, another New York beauty, came in first.
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Watkins Glen State Park has a variety of activities and amenities in addition to its hiking trails, including campsites and cabins, pavilion and shelter rentals, playgrounds, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and biking.
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The park is open year-round from dawn to dusk, but campsites, the swimming pool, the Gorge Trail, and some of the other amenities are only open seasonally. Click here for more details.
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A few things to note before your visit:
- No pets or alcohol are allowed on the Gorge Trail
- You can download the NY State Parks app here to check in before your visit for up-to-date info on any trail closures and other details to know before you go
- There are three entrances to the park: the Upper Entrance, the South Entrance, and the Main Entrance. We parked at the Main Entrance, followed the Gorge Trail up through the glen and then took the Rim Trail back to the parking lot.
- Due to Covid, the Gorge Trail was one way when we visited, so parking at the Main Entrance allowed us to enter the trail heading in the right direction. Check in before your visit using the app link above or by calling (607) 535-4511 to see if there’s a specific lot you should use to best access the Gorge Trail.
Have you visited Watkins Glen State Park before? What’s your favorite state park in the US? Let me know in the Comments!
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