July 21, 2023 Last night around 9:30, a thunderstorm passed through the area with thunder, lightning, and rain. It traveled through the area quickly and was gone. This morning the skies were grey and there was a slight chance of rain expected later this afternoon. We made plans to go visit some waterfall sites today. We left around 11:00 to go into town to visit Watkins Glen State Park.
We found parking right away in the parking lot for the park. We are such lucky “parking people”. We seem to always find a parking spot no matter how busy they seem to be. We paid the $9 for all-day parking and walked into the park. Entrance to the park is free.
Today we were taking the Gorge Trail from the south entrance. The Gorge Trail has 19 waterfalls and is 1.5 miles long. You can park at the bottom or south entrance and walk up. Or you can park at the upper entrance and walk down. There is a shuttle service for $6/person to shuttle you back to either parking lot. This is one of my favorite parks with great hikes, a beautiful gorge, and lots of interesting water and rock features.
Because it has rained a lot in the last few weeks, the water flow was high. If you visit in the summer, sometimes the water flow can be minimal, but we were very lucky to be visiting at a time when the water was really flowing. We wore our raincoats because the website said that if the water was flowing, you could get wet when walking under the falls in some places and there might be an afternoon storm. There are a lot of stone step walkways as you climb into the gorge. Some of the shaded walking surfaces had large puddles that you had to cross. Those were left over from the rains that they’ve had this week.
Some areas are flat as you walk along the water’s edge.
At the Cavern Cascade we walked behind this waterfall.
The Central Cascade plunges more than 60 ft. and is the highest waterfall in the Gorge.
The Suspension Bridge built in 1870 connects the Rim Trails and stands 85 feet above the creek. The rock bridge is suffering from some erosion, so they built this temporary metal bridge on top until the stone one can be repaired.
We walked through the Spiral Tunnel hand-cut in 1927.
Rainbow Falls got its name from when the sun strikes the waterfall and it creates a rainbow of colors. This one got us the most wet, but it was refreshing. When the sun came out in the gorge, it was warm and humid, so the water actually felt good.
On this hike, there were many stone masonry bridges created by the Army Corps of Engineers after the flood of 1935. They were beautiful works of art.
At the end of the trail, we ascended the 180 stairs of Jacob’s Ladder to the Upper Entrance. This gate locks the park when needed.
The walk took us about an hour and a half among the sounds of the rushing water and the luscious greenery growing in the gorge.
Once we reached the Upper Entrance, we caught the shuttle and rode it back to the parking lot. After our walk, it was a relief to sit down and get shuttled to the bottom. On our shuttle ride back to the parking lot, we could see rain over the lake in the distance. As we arrived at the parking lot and walked back to the Jeep, it started to rain. Good timing! From there, we drove out of town a couple miles and stopped at a nearby campground and marina to check out the boats and the campsites there. From the marina, we drove to another roadside waterfall in the town of Montour Falls. It is right on the highway just a couple miles from Watkins Glen. We saw it when we arrived and decided we had to go back and get a better look. There were also other smaller waterfalls coming out of the rocks along the roadside, but this was, by far, the largest.
Bob spotted a sign for another nearby waterfall in Montour, so we decided to go find it. It is Chequaga (She-Que-Ga) meaning “tumbling waters”. It is located within a neighborhood with houses on both sides and a small park in front of the falls. The falls are huge!
We spoke to a lady who lived next door about what it is like living next door to the sound of the waterfall that never shuts off. She has lived there 20 years and said she doesn’t mind. At night, there are colored lights that shine on the waterfall and it is beautiful. She also told us that Watkins Glen was flooded about two weeks ago from the rains. Glad we weren’t here then!
She also mentioned that the wall that we were standing in front of is a new addition. Quite a few years ago, the water flow was so heavy that the pool of water below the falls overflowed and flooded the houses around there. That’s a lot of water! I noticed this little guy keeping an eye on us from his front porch across the street from where we parked. He never made a sound, but stared at us the whole time. He was a good guard dog!
We left Montour to locate the Watkins Glen International Raceway. We had to drive up the bluffs to get out of town and into the countryside, but the raceway was only 6 miles away. From up on the bluff, we got a great view of the lake.
We pulled in at Gate 2 to enter the raceway. As we sat there looking around and taking some pictures from the Jeep, we noticed a man at the gate waving us over.
We drove over and he was a wealth of information. His two daughters live in Florida so we had a connection. He told us we could drive in and climb into the grandstand to look around. He also told us that if we wanted to come back at 4:30, for $30 we could drive the Jeep on the track for 3 laps as fast as we wanted. We were tempted, but Bob doesn’t like how the Jeep handles at higher speeds and told the guy we’d have to pass. (Now if we had the Corvette or Mercedes, we would have jumped at the chance.) We drove in and parked by the Argetsinger Grandstand.
We got out and climbed up the stairs in the grandstand to get a good view of the track.
As we walked back to the Jeep it started to rain again. Good timing! We enjoyed our time at the track and left there to make a stop at Walmart for some groceries. We got back to the campground and as we unloaded the groceries, it began to rain again. Once we were inside, it began to pour. Good timing! Bob grilled shish-kabob with homemade rice pilaf for dinner after the rain stopped. It was delish!
After dinner, we took Auggie for his walk in the park by the lake which is located across the street from the campground. We returned to the campground to watch some TV and enjoy the rest of the evening.