I had heard about Watkins Glen State Park for years, and our family likes to visit waterfalls, so late spring seemed like the perfect time to go for a visit. I read that the park could be very crowded in the summer, and with all the spring rain we had gotten, we figured it would be a great time to view them.
Finding Watkins Glen State Park is easy. Our goal was to get there first thing in the morning when they opened, and we got there before 9am on a Sunday, so we were able to park in the main parking lot at the bottom of the falls. You do have to pay to park, and you can save your receipt to get into other parks for free the same day.
The parking lot and park entrance have recently been redone, and it looks very nice. By the time we left (before noon), the parking was very full, with people looking for space outside of the parking lots.
We made our way to the beginning of the trail, which starts at this entrance in the rock.
Looking back towards the parking lot, the view of Watkins Glen is very pretty.
There are lots of tunnels to go through along the way.
Be prepared for many stairs along the way. 852 stairs to be exact – but you can take your time and get through it.
There are about 20 waterfalls along the trail, which follows the gorge. We went in the spring when the water was flowing well, so be prepared for some wet surfaces and getting dripped on a little from the waterfalls.
Along with the stairs, there are plenty of flat areas to rest as well.
The scenery is beautiful, even where there aren’t waterfalls.
I loved that we could even walk behind some of the waterfalls.
The walkways are so neat, and it is impressive to see the work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) back in the 1930’s.
Around the halfway mark, we had seen most of the waterfalls.
There is a gift shop with snacks at the top of the trail, although we waited and went to Glen Dairy Bar right up the road.
At the end of the trail, we splurged and spent $5 per person to take a shuttle back to the parking lot. We had done quite a bit of hiking within two days and decided to take a little break.
Visit Watkins Glen State Park online at https://parks.ny.gov/parks/142/
~ go earlier in the year (around springtime or early summer) when there is more water flowing
~ check the website for important dates – they list dates that are going to be busy with things like NASCAR and festivals
~ wear appropriate shoes for walking and wet surfaces
~ pace yourself – we saw people of all ages on the trail, from older folks to parents with newborns.
~ bring water and a camera