When we go hiking we expect there to be a payoff. We don’t go to stroll around the woods, commune with nature, or ‘find ourselves.’ We want to be rewarded for our efforts. Few places we’ve visited have been as rewarding as Watkins Glen State Park, in the Finger Lake’s region of New York State.
Any small portion of the gorge’s rock formations, 200 foot cliffs, or 19 waterfalls would have been sufficient to tempt us to undertake a several mile hike. We’d consider it a day well spent. At Watkins Glen, however, the entire 1 mile trek is pure payoff. From the moment we walked through a small cavern at the entrance, to our first sight of water careening around the twisted and stratified canyon walls, to the cascading falls and lush greenery that could have been ripped from a Rivendell stage set, we were wowed at every turn.
For sheer density of scenic beauty, it’s hard to think of a place we’ve been in the East that rivals Watkins Glen State Park. After over a year of travel, it probably ranks in the top three with Acadia National Park in Maine and Edward Ball State Park in Florida also vying for top honors. It’s a small park and it’s most impressive trail can be walked in under an hour . . . but it’s an hour incredibly well spent.