Hiking Watkins Glen, New York

Watkins Glen State Park in southwestern New York is home to one of the most scenic hikes in New York state. There are a number of decent trails to enjoy in the park, along with picnic areas, playgrounds, and a swimming pool with a concession stand. But the big attraction is the Gorge Trail in the heart of the tiny town of Watkins Glen.

The glen itself is GORGES! Get it? It’s Gorgeous! But they are gorges…gorgeous gorges. And they really are. ?

The Gorge Trail is a 3 mile, out and back trail with a number of beautiful waterfalls to ogle and rocky tunnels to climb through. There are also plenty of other paths to explore that branch off from the main trail, so be sure to grab a map or take a photo of it on your phone beforehand…which is a good rule of thumb regardless of where you’re wandering.

Some things you need to know before you go:

*There is no admission fee. However, it will cost you $8/car to park in one of their lots.
*There are 832 steps and 500 feet of elevation change on that 1.5 mile stretch of trail. It is, however, well maintained.
*The Gorge Trail is open from mid-May to late October and is barricaded off by massive, impassible steel doors from all possible entrances when it’s not. So, if the website says it’s closed, they mean it.
*No pets are allowed on the Gorge Trail.
*There are restrooms available.
*When in service, there’s a shuttle system that will run you between the Main, South, and Upper entrances for $5/person.

Hiking trails in New York

*Check their official website for additional info and for current conditions and restrictions.
*The website currently states that the Gorge Trail is open but with limited access due to the pandemic.
What does that mean?
The park asks that you wear your mask on the trail and to be diligent with social distancing.
They have also set up the trail to be a one-way hike. You’ll hike the Gorge Trail to the Mile Bridge and proceed up the Indian Trail to finish the trek back down to the main parking area. There are a number of other possible trails to detour onto, but if you’re looking to hike the Gorge Trail as far as it’ll go, the Mile Bridge is the current end-point.

The Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen is absolutely stunning! You’ll want to wear sturdy shoes, bring a camera, and plan to take your time with this one. There are tons of great hikes that are best enjoyed while powering through, but this isn’t one of them. Be sure to take some time to stop and enjoy the view. You’ll be glad you did. ?

Main Entrance- 1009 N. Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
South Entrance – 3530 Route 419, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Upper Entrance – 3310 Route 409, Watkins Glen, NY 14891

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2 thoughts on “Hiking Watkins Glen, New York

  • August 30, 2020 at 3:52 am

    Your best bet is to ONLY enter through the main lot unless you want to walk it twice to get out if you park in the upper lot because the one way starts at the main entrance and shuttle isn’t running.

    • September 4, 2020 at 10:49 am

      Thank you for sharing that. You’re absolutely right! Until this pandemic passes and things are back to normal, you really do need to park in the main lot, or plan to hike the extra distance. 🙂


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