Watkins Glen and Schuyler County can best be described as that place where Mother Nature meets Main Street. There are countless opportunities for hiking including easy, moderate, and more challenging paths.
Watkins glen state park
Watkins Glen State Park in the heart of downtown Watkins Glen is the largest outdoor attraction in the region and is considered one of New York State's flagship parks. It was also voted the #3 state park in the country in a USA Today Readers' Choice Poll recently. The Gorge Trail features 19 waterfalls and stunning experiences as the path wends over, under, and even behind several waterfalls. The Visitor Center at the Main Entrance to the Park opened in 2018 and it is truly state-of-the-art, staffed by incredibly knowledgeable, local professionals. The North Rim Trail is open year-round and is dog-friendly (dogs, primarily for their own safety, are not permitted on the Gorge Trail).
Guided Tours: There are guided tours of the Gorge Trail beginning June 28 and ending September 9. Tours depart at 10am and 1pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Tours are not offered on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Shuttle: The Watkins Glen State Park shuttle runs on weekends during the busy season. It shuttles visitors between the Upper Entrance and the Main Entrance. In other words, if you begin your hike at the Main Entrance, hike the length of the Gorge Trail to the Upper Entrance, you can hop aboard the convenient shuttle for a ride back downtown to the Main Entrance. The cost is only $5 per person. The shuttle runs daily throughout the summer beginning June 23. You can pick it up every 20-30 minutes.
► View the Watkins Glen State Park Trail Map: here
► View the Watkins Glen State Park General Map: here
► Download a Watkins Glen State Park Trail Map to your phone: here
► Learn more about the history of Watkins Glen State Park: here
finger lakes national forest
Outside of the Watkins Glen State Park, many other outdoor opportunities await. The Finger Lakes National Forest is nestled between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, just a short drive north of Watkins Glen. It is the only national forest in New York State, one of only three in the Northeast, and it is expansive - covering 16,032 acres. For more information on the Finger Lakes National Forest, click here.
catharine valley trail
The Catharine Valley Trail is a year-round recreational trail that accommodates walking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing through the glacially-carved valley south of Seneca Lake. For more information, click here.
sugar hill state forest
Just seven miles west of the village of Watkins Glen, you'll find Sugar Hill State Forest, which covers approximately 9,085 acres and offers an abundance of recreational activities, plus camping, five lean-tos, a fire tower (which you can climb for a beautiful view), and a picnic area. There are miles of trails for hiking, snowmobiling, and horseback riding. Camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, click here.
finger lakes trail
The Finger Lakes Trail also wends its way through Watkins Glen and Schuyler County. The Finger Lakes Trail system, over 950 miles in length, runs from the Pennsylvania-New York border in Allegany State Park, to the Long Path in the Catskill Forest Preserve, with branch trails to Niagara Falls, the Genesee River Valley, the Great Eastern Trail south of Corning, the Central Finger Lakes, and the Syracuse region. This system is built and maintained almost entirely by volunteers. For more information, click here.