Watkins Glen Gorge State Park promises nineteen waterfalls! Hannah and I are all in! Though we are hiking on a late October Friday in the low 40s, it turns out it’s a great time of year as many of the low hanging leaves have fallen and views are extraordinary.
Coming to hang out with our grandson Brooks, and, of course, his parents, we are pleased to see that they have taken to parenting like fish to water, like Dan and Hannah to pickleball, like Tom Brady to being the GOAT (greatest of all time!). Despite the many sleep-deprived nights, Will and Laurel show their love to their happy, laughing bambino hour after hour, day after day.
Driving 25 miles west of Ithaca, New York, we come upon the upper parking lot by the picnic areas and massive Dirty Dancing-size swimming pool of the Watkins Glen Gorge State Park. The attendant takes our $8 and says that with a few more cold days, the park will close.
Feeling the administration of state parks could use all the financial support they can get, we gladly pay. It’s $8! Please! The employees need health benefits, a livable wage, and the park needs tender loving care. I encourage you to go out of your way to pay the very modest fees at state parks when you hit the trails. Check out the trio of videos and the cavalcade of photographs below to see what you get from this 1.5 miles of trail that drops 400 feet from stem to stern!
From the parking area we descend to the gorge by following, get this for irony, the Gorge Trail. It’s all well-marked as we quickly descend through the Spiral Staircase Tunnel. Passing behind this rocking falls, we feel the H2O that’s heading towards Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes here in central New York.
We are soon sloshing along the stone walkways of the narrow Gorge Trail from the many falls. With 832 steps from top to bottom, we have evidence of the Civilian Conservation Corps creativity and dedication in digging into these narrow gorge walls to make a trail of slate steps. This extraordinary waterside trail/walkway is evidence of the master craftsmanship of the stone artisans plying their trade during the Depression of the 1930s.
Busier than I would have guessed, the Friday midday crowd has us walking leisurely as we take the time to smell the metaphorical roses of the cascading water, rather than being hell-bent on getting exercise as we usually are.
With barriers to the gorge most of the way until you get to the flatter upper trail, the slate walkway is a great family hike. The final ascent up what is known as Jacob’s Ladder is 180 steps. By the way, Jacob’s Ladder is referenced in Genesis as the up and down pathway to heaven for angels.
As you might have guessed, we rocked with many hiking angels today.
More gorge photographs