Finger Lakes Weekend Pt 1 / Watkins Glen State Park / If You Can’t Em, Join Em!

The Finger Lakes region is comprised of 11 long, narrow, roughly north–south lakes in Central New York.  If you ever get a chance to spend a long weekend in the Finger Lakes do yourself a huge favor and DO IT. There is so much to see and do around the area. You want amazing views and hikes through nature? Check.  You want wine trails? Check. You want good food and bars to entertain yourself at night? Check. You can even explore the beautiful campus at Cornell University. This is for sure one of my favorite regions in NY to visit. You may remember an earlier post I did about a day trip to Taughannock Falls State Park . Guess what? Also in the Finger Lakes. So, if you don’t get many chances to visit the area perhaps you’ll want to combine that post with this one for some itinerary ideas. I feel very fortunate to live just about 2.5 hours away. All that being said, there was so much to do there for one long weekend, I felt the need to break the trip up into 3 parts. Here is part 1.

My best friend, Krystal, and I set out for a long weekend this time trying to tackle as many things as we could. Admittedly, we didn’t get to EVERYTHING the area has to offer but we did accomplish a good chunk. This post will only detail what we did that particular weekend.


First stop was about 30 minutes outside of Ithaca, NY. We left early morning on a Saturday in July. We headed out as early as we possibly could because the first park we wanted to venture to was the famed Watkins Glen State Park. Within two miles you can see the glen’s stream descend 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, creating 19 waterfalls along the way. This is probably the most heavily trafficked of the Finger Lakes State Parks.

The gorge path at Watkins Glen State Park is one of the most photo-worthy places I’ve ever seen. As you can see, clearly lots of people agree with me!


We tried to beat the crowds but by the time we got there around 10am we were already too late. If you can’t beat em, join em!  We started with the Gorge Trail and Indian Trail Loop which is a 2.5 mile hike. This path is typically the area with the biggest crowds. This trail will lead you over and under waterfalls all alongside the glen. One of the two waterfalls you can walk behind is Cavern Cascade. You will get wet; there’s no avoiding it; but you won’t want to avoid it even if you could. It was a pretty overcast day but this did not make the trek any less stunning. It was a little difficult to get pictures to really capture the beauty on a day like this when we were waiting in a busy line of hikers at every corner. My best advice for this trail would be to hit it on a weekday nice and early to avoid such heavy crowds. If you can’t, it’s still completely worth the visit.

Once we felt satisfied with our charging through the crowds on the gorge path, we went to check out the South Rim Trail and the Indian Trail. These trails provide you a nice hike through the forested rim of the gorge. They have some really stunning views of the gorge from a bit higher perspective, and also give you some time to explore the woods.

Wooded walks through the forest

I know I have introduced you to Adventure Car in a previous post. Now meet Adventure Hat. She’s mine and she comes with us nearly everywhere we go and is a real trooper. Krystal and I require all our possessions be as adventurous as we are.

If you’re going to the make the trip, I would recommend checking out all 3 areas. There’s so much to see in this park it can be a little overwhelming. This map is really helpful to look over before you head out. It gives a clear picture on what you’ll see on each trail so that you can plan ahead to really get the most out of this trip.


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