where mother nature meets main street
Watkins Glen and Schuyler County can best be described as that place where Mother Nature meets Main Street. With dozens of waterfalls, miles upon miles of hiking trails, and parks and paths around seemingly every corner - there is no shortage of things to see and do in the outdoors. Here are a few of our top suggestions for places to enjoy the outdoors in Watkins Glen and Schuyler County:
► Watkins Glen State Park in the heart of downtown Watkins Glen offers a breathtaking walking experience of cliffs and waterfalls - 19 in less than 2 miles. It was voted the #3 State Park in the country in a USA Today Readers' Choice Poll. There is an $8 entrance fee per vehicle. The Gorge Trail is open seasonally (mid-May through the end of October, though this is weather dependent) and The Rim Trail is open year round.
Address: 1009 North Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 / Phone: 607-535-4511
Winter 2017-2018 - The Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park is closed for the season. It typically reopens sometime in mid to late May, depending upon the weather. The Gorge Trail closes because it becomes extremely icy, snowy, and very slippery. When the weather warms, New York State Park employees will scale the gorge walls with ropes and rappelling gear, knocking loose any rocks and ensuring it is safe, before reopening in the spring. The Rim Trail at Watkins Glen State Park is open year round. There are also many other places to explore, outside of Watkins Glen State Park. Here are a few ideas...
► The Finger Lakes National Forest is nestled between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, located just a few minutes drive from downtown Watkins Glen. It is the only national forest in New York State, one of only three in the Northeast, and it is expansive - covering over 16,000 acres. Open year round for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and more. No fee to enter, nominal fees for camping. Swing by the Ranger Station on Route 414 in Hector for maps, expert information, and suggestions!
Ranger Station Address: 5218 State Route 414, Hector, NY 14841 / Phone: 607-546-4470
► 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. You can access it at points throughout Watkins Glen and Schuyler County. Open year round and there is no fee to enter. Stop by our Visitor Center at 214 N. Franklin Street to pick up a map!
► Sugar Hill State Forest is about 7 miles west of the village of Watkins Glen. It covers over 9,000 acres and offers an abundance of recreational activities. There are miles of trails for hiking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and horseback riding. Roads throughout the area offer great biking opportunities. This park is largely "unmanned", so we highly recommend finding maps online in advance. Open year round and there is no fee to enter.
Address: 3361 Tower Road, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 / Phone: 607-776-2165
► Havana Glen Park located just south of the village of Montour Falls offers a playground, camping, pavilions and picnicking, and the breathtaking Eagle Cliff Falls, which is just a short walk along a well-formed path from the parking lot. Closed for the season until spring. $2 fee to enter.
Address: 135 Havana Glen Road, Montour Falls, NY 14865 / Phone: 607-535-9476
► The Finger Lakes Trail is a footpath for hikers which stretches 560 miles from the PA/NY border in Allegany State Park to the Catskill Forest Preserve. 48 miles wind through Schuyler County, traversing Sugar Hill State Forest, Watkins Glen State Park, Finger Lakes National Forest, Texas Hollow Wildlife Management Area, Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, among others. Not looking for quite so long a hike? The Queen Catharine Marsh Trail portion of the Finger Lakes Trail offers a 9-mile loop, starting at the entrance to Watkins Glen State Park.