The Gorges at Watkins Glen State Park

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October 9th 2020
Published: October 9th 2020
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Poet, novelist, and travel writer William Graham holds a BA and MA in English and a MS in Communication from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He lives in Stowe, Vermont. His latest work of fiction is Katahdin, which is Book Three of the Maine Murder Mystery series.

Walking on the Gorge Trail of Watkins Glen State Park, located near the south end of Seneca Lake (one of the state's renowned Finger Lakes), I became immediately aware of the insignificance of the human species in comparison to raw nature. Over 10,000 years ago, I would have been standing within solid rock rather than on a trail. During those thousand of years, Glen Creek slowly and inexorably carved away the rock and created the magnificent gorges that plunge several hundred feet to the creek bed today and waterfalls that attract tens of thousands of visitors a year to this gem in the New York state park system. I visited the park in October, when the rolling hills along the shores of Seneca Lake were displaying their autumnal finery. My base for the sojourn was a modernist cabin that sat on the brow of a hill with a stunning vista of Seneca Lake (38 miles long and up to 600 feet deep) that sat like a sapphire, cradled by the gently sloping hills beyond. The eastern hills were dotted mostly by farms, whereas the western hills boated dozens and dozens of wineries, enough to satisfy the cravings of any oenophile (that is, a wine aficionado).

Most people who visit the park walk along the Gorge Trail, which was cut into solid rock by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The trail features over 800 steps, but it still is an easy to moderate walk, but be prepared to ascend a lot of steps. The other options are the North Rim and a South Rim trails. I preferred the South Rim trail, which meanders through a lovely forest and is less crowded that the North Rim circuit. There is a bit of climbing on the southern route, but mostly it's a well-maintained trail that is a peaceful saunter.

The park and the surrounding Seneca Lake area is, in my view, a nice destination for a two-to-three day sojourn. But if you're really into wine, you could spend a week hopping from one wine tasting to another. But you might not remember you were actually there.

Finally, I recommend the cabins at and the location of the Lakeside Resort & Bistro , situated on NY State Route 14 just north of the village of Watkins Glen. Our modernist cabin was very spacious, clean, and sported beautiful views of Seneca Lake from its porch.

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