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New trail opens in Watkins Glen ADVERTISEMENT

New trail opens in Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN--The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced the opening of the Watkins Glen State Park trail connecting the lower park entrance to the North Rim Trail last week. The Indian Trail has been closed since 1983 due to the steep nature and eroded pathway.
It took crews more than 4,300 hours of work--nearly all of it by hand--during the last two years to restore the path that runs from just behind the new welcome center to the top of the north gorge wall. The rise is more than 160 feet in just two-tenths of a mile. Restoration work included building 352 box steps in the trail's main staircase and 39 box steps at the gorge overlook.
"Reopening the North Rim Trail in the park is an important addition to the village," said Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk. "The new trail will increase the capacity of the park, reduce congestion and provide access to viewsheds that haven't been available to the public in the last 40 years."
Another benefit of the new trail is visitors will now be able to access the year-round upper trails from the main entrance, where before in the winter you had to drive or walk to either of the upper two entrances to use the trails. The lower gorge trail is closed when temperatures begin to freeze and make wet areas turn to ice.
Work on the project was led by the State Parks' Finger Lakes regional trails crew. This project also was supported by a variety of other work teams including Watkins Glen park staff and the Excelsior Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps environmental education and stewardship program created in 2015 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In April, seven ECC stewards provided about 176 hours of labor on the project, working on filling box steps with durable material, removing trees and debris from the steep trail, and preparing the overlook site for the new staircase and stone wall.
Other groups working on the Watkins Glen project included the regional rock scaling team, incarcerated individuals from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision drug treatment campus in Willard, and the State Parks FORCES program of volunteer conservation stewards.
Additional project work was performed by Economy Paving, Atlas Fence Co. and Whitmore Fence Co.
Assembly member Phil Palmesano said, "I appreciate the state's ongoing commitment to invest in a remarkable system of trails across the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions. It's a system that enhances the quality of our communities, offers great opportunities for everyone who enjoys the outdoors, and strengthens many local economies. In particular, the newly repaired section of trail at one of America's premier state parks in Watkins Glen is an amazing addition that is a tribute to thousands of hours of hard work by local conservation employees and volunteers."
The Watkins Glen state park is open all year, however, some features are closed after the summer season. The pool closes in September, camping ends in October as does the shuttle service from the upper to lower sections of the park. The park office can be reached at 607-535-4511 with questions about the trail status.

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