Watkins park is a top state destination
WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen State Park and Gorge Trail attracts more than 400,000 visitors annually to Watkins Glen. Park Manager Dave Peterson said the number of park visitors is expected to increase again this year. “There has been excellent weather and we have been quite busy this year,” Peterson said.
To give this number some perspective, the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG) is visited by some 350,000 each year (Source: Yvette Sterbenk, communications manager, CMOG).
Watkins Glen State Park is also ranked in the top 20 most visited parks in New York State. Dan Keefe, spokesperson for the NYS Office of Parks and Recreation and Historic Preservation said, Watkins Glen State Park ranks 16. The park falls just behind Niagra Falls and other state parks in more populated areas such as New York City and Long Island.
The 1.5 mile long Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park allows visitors to walk and view 19 waterfalls from three to 60 feet high, along its course. The trail that holds 835 steps makes it a triumph to reach the top. The path leads each hiker under, over, and through waterfalls giving them hundreds of photo opportunities and changes to view the gorge scenery. The stream that flows through the gorge descends 400 feet, past 200 foot cliffs
The trail takes the average person about two hours to climb, but the waterfalls and scenic views that stop many make them loose all track of time.
The park attracts a wide variety of travelers. Last week the REVIEW & EXPRESS talked with several groups at random in the park and here are a few of the comments people offered.
Pricilla Alloy from Mansfield Pa., Robert Beattie, and Robin Moore from Bucks County, Pa. made it to the bottom of the Gorge Trail claming it to have been, “fantastic and beautiful.”
Rachael, Isaac and baby Porter Case from Fairport, N.Y. proved that all ages can enjoy the hike. “It is bigger than other hikes we’ve been on but we love it,” Rachael said.
Judy and David Sabol from Diamond Bar, Calif. said they were enjoying their walk down the gorge. This was their first time hiking the trail, but said they have heard a lot about it and it was their sole reason for traveling to Watkins Glen. “We’ll see if we have enough strength at the end to walk back up,” David said.
Sherry Edger, Hannah Edger, Emalyn Arnold, Kelsey Amidon, Erin Edger, Riyle Payne, and Brody Amidon didn’t travel far to walk the trail, coming from Corning, N.Y. Sherry and Erin said “the kids were very excited to see everything.” Sherry has been to the gorge about 12 times, while most of the kids were experiencing it for the first time.
Rosanna, Mark, Justin, and Julia Baker from Long Island, N.Y. made it to the top “with few complaints,” Rosanna said. Mark said the hike was “good but tiring,” and Julia said it was “peaceful and beautiful.”
The state park also offers 305 tent and trailer campsites, picnic areas, an Olympic-sized and kiddie pool, food concessions, gift shop, playground, and playing fields.
Pets are allowed in the park with proof of rabies vaccination and must be on a leash or caged. They cannot be brought on the Gorge Trail or in the pool area.
The park located on Route 14 in Watkins Glen is open year-round. The Gorge Trail is open from May 2 to early November. Camping is available from May 7 to Oct. 24. The pool is open daily from June 19 to Sept. 6 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Bow hunting is also permitted in season.
An $8 vehicle entry fee is collected at the main, south, and north entrances, but the trail, pool, playground, etc. are free for visitors.