The morning started out overcast, but brightened up as the day wore on. The temp was 88 degrees with 90% humidity. We laced up our hiking boots and set off for Watkins Glen State Park around 9:30. It is a 5 minute drive from the campground and right downtown. We found parking across the street from the entrance ($8) and walked to the start of the trail.
We were hiking the Gorge Trail that follows Glen Creek past water-sculpted rock and 19 waterfalls in less than 2 miles. We stopped in the Ranger Station to get a map. The Ranger mapped out our path into and out of the gorge so that we could see as much of the gorge as possible. They told us that we were only able to hike 1/2 of the Gorge Trail today due to damage at the Glen Cathedral from the torrential rains that they had 2 weeks ago. Bummer! Oh well, we’ll make the best of it!
We walked along the path reading the interpretive panels along the way towards the Entrance Tunnel. As we approached the tunnel, we could see our first waterfall and the arched stone walkway above it.
Bob led the way through the tunnel to our first close-up view of the waterfall.
Standing on the arched walkway, we had a fabulous view of the lower walkway and Glen Creek.
Looking ahead, we got a better view of the waterfall cascading into the Gorge.
The limestone rocks had beautiful carved patterns from the power of the water.
The farther up we walked, the more of the waterfall we could see. The path paralleled the gorge.
Walking on, we approached the Cavern Cascades and the Spiral Tunnel.
This is one of the 2 waterfalls you can walk behind. Bob went first.
I took this picture from behind the waterfall and after passing by.
We continued on the Gorge Trail walking under the Suspension Bridge which is 85 feet above the creek. Looking up, we could see people walking across the bridge.
From the tunnel and staircase, we came upon The Narrows. The area here is shady, cool, and moist most of the time. It was lush and green.
Beyond the top of the next staircase is the Glen Cathedral area. Bob stopped to talk to these gentlemen who asked us where we were from.
Once we reached the top, we were able to see the Glen Cathedral, but the trail was closed and that’s as far as we could go.
The park service workers were carrying bags of concrete up to the top to make the repairs. It was back-breaking work on this hot, humid day.
From that point, we turned around and started back down.
Soon we came upon the Suspension Bridge.
I coaxed Bob into walking out onto the bridge to check out the view. Even with his fear of heights, he did great!
The view was awesome from the bridge in both directions looking down.
Looking down on the path below
After crossing the bridge, we veered left onto Lover’s Lane. It was a very short 0.3 mile walk.
We back-tracked to take the Indian Trail as the Ranger suggested. It was a steep hike and walk along the top of the gorge.
This trail took us past an old cemetery before we came to the observation area for the Central Cascade which plunges 60 feet and is the highest waterfall in the Gorge.
These rounded pools, called Heart Pools, can be seen in a few places in the Gorge.
The last stop for us on Indian Trail was the view of Rainbow Falls. That’s as close as we could get. In the late afternoon on a sunny day you might see a rainbow reflected off the falls. Hence, the name Rainbow Falls.
We walked down the Indian Trail back across the Suspension Bridge to the Finger Lake Trail. It took us past Lily Pond to the restrooms, a very cool old stone building.
After a quick stop at the restroom, we came upon this collection of hoodoos and had to add one of our own.
We followed the Finger Lake Trail to the Couch Staircase overlook. What a view we had!
We took the Couch Staircase, a series of many stairs, down to the Entrance Tunnel and the beginning of our hike. The stairs were steep, but Bob made it to the bottom. No problems!
It was a long way down to the bottom.
We crossed the arched stone path one last time before finishing our hike. We were hot and dripping from the humidity, but the sight of all those waterfalls was worth it!
We made the right decision to visit the park today instead of Sunday. The crowds were light and close parking was available. There are over 800 stone steps in the gorge and Bob says we walked up most of them. Back at the truck, we couldn’t wait to turn on the AC and the air-cooled seats. I wanted to check out 2 more waterfalls that were in close proximity to Watkins Glen. The first roadside waterfall was just out of town on Highway 14 south towards the town of Montour Falls.
Aunt Sarah’s Falls can be seen with no hiking involved. The falls is on one side of the street with parking on the other side.
This waterfall is weather-dependent. With all the rain they’ve had lately, we got quite a show, although at times it’s only a trickle. I waded across a stone path to get in close to the waterfall.
Our second roadside waterfall was just a mile or two farther into Montour Falls on the main street. It was Shequaga (Chequaga) Falls.
It was breathtaking from the street, but we walked up close to get the best view. It was awesome as the water thundered over the rocks of multiple ledges to the ground below.
It is situated in a residential area with homes on both sides. Imagine having that as your backyard view.
We decided it was time to celebrate Bob’s courage and his attempt to brave hiking across the bridge and dealing with heights, so we stopped at the Crooked Rooster Pub for a beer.
Crooked Rooster Pub
It was a cool, old bar in Watkins Glen with a tin ceiling and big oak-carved back bar. We ordered pretzels with cheese and mustard on the side. It was tasty and the pretzels were warm. They went great with the cold beer!
Watkins Glen is also known for the Grand Prix Roadrace which is held every September. We found this beautiful mural on one of the buildings to commemorate the race.
We returned to the campground and Auggie was happy to see us. We spent the rest of the afternoon resting our feet and staying cool. We heard thunder in the distance as storms passed to the south of us, but we had no rain. We had dinner and took Auggie for his evening walk after things cooled off a little. Tomorrow we have a short drive to our next campground on Lake Cayaga and Ithaca, NY, just 34 miles away.