Hike to Watkins Glen's Waterfalls

Watkins Glen South Rim Trail

This easy hike features beautiful scenery and several great photographic opportunities.

Nestled right off the main road in the small village of Watkins Glen in Upstate New York, Watkins Glen State Park is a beautiful area with plenty to see. Although it is a bit touristy and right off of the road, you'll forget how close to society you are when you see these beautiful waterfalls.

With three different entrances, parking is fairly easy, but arriving later in the day or earlier in the morning is still the best time to come to avoid large crowds and to catch the best light for pictures.

Start at the Upper Entrance to hike down alongside the falls. Start at the Main Entrance to see the very beginning of the falls and to hike up along side them. Start at the South Entrance to get the best vantage point and less-used parking area.

If you start at the South Entrance, you can skip the bigger crowds that generally form around the Upper and Main entrances. Also, you're placed right near the start of the falls, so you don't miss much in terms of sightseeing.

From the South Entrance, take the trail down towards the falls and head over the Suspension Bridge for the best sight seeing and photo ops. Follow Lover's Lane and stick with it as it merges into the Gorge Trail. Definitely stay 'til the end if you and your group are feeling up to it. The trail is relatively easy, with built in steps and sidewalls to prevent falling. It's about 2 miles from the South Entrance all the way to the end. Once at the end, you can easily loop back around to hike the way you came up, or bypass the crowds and most of the views and take the Indian Trail, if you're feeling anxious to get back to your car or a picnic area near the parking lot to refuel.

Watkins Glen is open year round and is beautiful in any season, but you definitely will not regret making your first time in late Fall.

Pack List

  • Hiking boots (or shoes with lots of traction as the trail can get pretty slippery)
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Extra clothes in case you get wet!
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RT Distance 4 Miles
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Groups
Picnic Area
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Beautiful Waterfalls

Grew up in the area, so have visited most of the waterfalls and parks. But this one is spectacular because of its unique tunnels and paths that go behind the waterfalls. Epic !

Great To Camp Nearby

We camped at the nearby campgrounds, so I made many trips to the falls and walked it up and down several times. In the early morning sun there's almost no one there and the mist from the falls creates beams of light everywhere. That was probably my favorite time to go. Some trips I took photos, others I smoked a pipe and contemplated life in the dreamy Lord of the Rings' Rivendell-like environment. If you're sneaky, you can walk up the stream as the river is only knee-deep at most, but you're technically not allowed to do so. Park security does walk to trail from time to time, so be aware. Do be aware mid-day to early evening it is often slammed with people, so plan accordingly. Great falls, great photos, great vibes.

Stunning waterfalls, but crowds galore

Beautiful, well-maintained state park with gorgeous waterfalls, slides, gorges, and cool steps and staircases carved into the rock. Hike was straightforward and easy. Went on a Friday afternoon in August and main, Gorge trail was practically a highway of people. Nonetheless, still a good, quick walk in the park. Worth the trip if you don't mind or can skip the crowds via the south entrance.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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