Watkins Glen Camping

Watkins Glen Gorge Hike

Watkins Glen is an iconic location in New York State. Located in the Finger Lakes, this area is packed with waterfalls and beautiful landscapes! The Watkins Glen Gorge hike features an impressive 19 waterfalls, 400ft descent, 200ft cliffs and a 2 mile hike.

We decided to visit the Watkins Glen Gorge on the weekend after Labour Day in an attempt to miss the crowds. We had heard that the Gorge can get very crowded during the day so we arrived just before the opening time of 7:00am EST. There were a handful of cars waiting for the Gorge to open (there are gates) but the crowds were manageable. We let everyone go first and then headed down the path. See the photos below for our journey down the Gorge!

^ This is the view from the PARKING LOT!!

^ This was one of the first tall waterfalls. We managed to pull out our tripod but clearly didn’t expose this photo properly.

^ The BEAUTIFUL waterfall that you see in all the photos! It was even more breathtaking in person! (Ps. Can you find Ryan?)

Helpful Tips

  1. Arrival Time: Aim to get to the Gorge around 6:45am so that you can set up your gear and get ready to hike before the crowds arrive!
  2. Camera Gear: Try to bring a camera that will allow you to adjust the shutter speed and a standing tripod so you can get those creamy waterfalls. You may also want to bring a lens polarizer if you go later in the day when it is brighter
  3. Take Photos on the Way Up: We weren’t sure what to expect with the Gorge so we took our time and photographed each location on our ascent – and we are glad that we did! Going up the Gorge you get the amazing views of the waterfalls however on the way down your back is to the waterfalls (and the crowds have arrived).
  4. Wear Running or Hiking Shoes – Although this trail is mostly stone and well groomed, you will want to wear an athletic shoe that will support you on the hike. There are lots of stairs and slippery stones that could be hazardous without proper footwear.

What’s at the top of the Gorge?

We hadn’t read much about what we would find at the top of the Gorge. After walking for about an hour (we stopped to take lots of photos) we reached some stairs that led to the top. Most people didn’t stop to explore the top of the Gorge but we ended up finding a beautiful cemetery that gave us a chance to sit down and soak in the view.

Warren Clute Memorial Park

We decided to come to Watkins Glen for a short three (3) day camping trip. We hiked the Watkins Glen Gorge but also spent a lot of time at the Warren Clute Memorial Park. We ended up stumbling across this park while looking for a place to swim. It was absolutely deserted during our stay in September and there was no admission (bonus!). We spent a couple of afternoons swimming in the lake and playing in the park and it might have been the best part of our vacation.

Camping at Watkins Glen State Park

We had read great things about Watkins Glen State Park and decided to throw up our tents. We ended up spending three (3) nights but got rained on during the evenings. Overall, we really loved the state park and would stay again in a heart beat. We picked a site near the edge of the gorge but couldn’t see very much from our site. Overall, we had an amazing weekend and loved exploring a new local area!

If you loved this post or the photos, please pin the following image on Pinterest so you can remember to book your visit and spread the word!