I visited this popular state park in upstate New York. Let me tell you all about this wonderful nature preserve.
Watkins Glen State Park is located south of Seneca Lake, in the Finger Lakes area of Upstate New York. It’s a new park I wanted to visit after seeing other popular destinations, like Buttermilk Falls and Taughannock Falls.
The drive up to Watkins Glen is gorgeous. You drive past hills and farmland. The sky is clear and full of clouds. The scenic drive is worth a weekend getaway from New York City.
The town of Watkins Glen was busy that weekend. There was traffic, even at 10 AM in the morning. We stopped by a Burger King near the park entrance. There are big signs guiding cars into the center of the park, and we had no trouble finding the entrance.
The parking fee is $8, which is standard for all New York state parks. The parking area was big and we had no trouble finding a spot, even on a busy weekend.
We picked the Gorge Trail to begin our hike. It was obvious that this was going to be a beautiful trail due to how many people were on it. Right at the start, you cross a short suspension bridge and you get an amazing view of the creek below. The Gorge Trail is relatively easy and gives you the best views of the numerous waterfalls. The trail takes you very close to the waterfalls, and there are even wet parts where the waterfalls are over your head!
At a point near the end, the trail gets very close to the creek, and people step into the water. Hand made rock sculptures dot the water landscape.
On the way back, we chose to walk the Indian Trail. This one takes you further away from the creek. You are deeper in the woods, and there is less people. You pass by a cemetary too.
The trails are just long enough to keep you interested, but not too long to exhaust you.
Plenty of small waterfalls appear on the Gorge Trail hike. There were plenty of opportunities for long exposure shots, and I regret not bringing my tripod. Still, I was creative enough and was able to use my Fujifilm X-T1 to capture some nice long exposure waterfalls. I set the camera down on a ledge and took 1-2 second exposure shots. It worked very well, and you can see the results in the gallery below.
Comparison to other parks
I would rank Watkins Glen as similar to Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca. Both feature interesting rock formations and small waterfalls. Watkins Glen has fewer steep climbs than Buttermilk.
The park doesn’t have a majestic waterfall like the heart shaped one in Taughannock.
Overall though, I enjoyed my hike in Watkins Glen and would visit again. It’s a photographer’s dream!