Hike to Watkins Glen's Waterfalls
New York › Watkins Glen State Park, New York
Added by Timothy Behuniak
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.
- Hiking boots (or shoes with lots of traction as the trail can get pretty slippery)
- Extra clothes in case you get wet!
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
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
Chillin, Hiking, Photography
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
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.
Great hike past beautiful waterfalls. This is one of my favorite hikes. The bridges spanning the falls look great and the trail is in good condition. The trail leading back from above the gorge is a nice change of scenery, a forest of red pines. I can't wait to go back with my new camera.
You might be surprised of this little gem in western NY, but it exists and is quite the adventure. I've been here numerous times (I'm a local) and it never disappoints. It's a great place for photographers and just lovers of nature, in general. If you happen to be in the area, stop by. Relatively cheap and the exercise is worth it.
More Adventures Nearby
Hike to Beaver Pond
New York / Appalachian Trailhead at Canopus Lake
Beaver Pond is a small body of water created by a dam that was constructed during the days of iron ore mining in the area. The pond is crystal clear and has a wonderful tree line right on the water.
Hike the Perkins/Fahnestock/Charcoal Burners Trail Loop
New York / Charcoal Burners Trailhead, Clarence Fahnestock State Park
This is one of my favorite hikes in the Clarence Fahnestock State Park. A real mixed bag but mostly very enjoyable. The trail starts at the Charcoal Burners Trailhead Route 301.