The Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail is slated to open on May 20, 2017. As you might know, there are big things happening at the park!
As we speak, the park is undergoing a $6.5 million facelift to “transform the main entrance to Watkins Glen State Park. The project will relocate the parking area away from the gorge, creating a less congested and more welcoming approach to this leading Finger Lakes tourism destination. The main entrance parking lot will be returned to green space, creating new park amenities and enhanced interpretation of Watkin Glen’s unique natural and cultural history.” (Source: Governor’s Press Room – Click here to visit the site and read more)
So what does all this mean for visitors? Well, as construction proceeds throughout 2017 and into 2018, there will be obvious construction taking place at the Main Entrance, BUT, you will still have access to the Gorge Trail, restrooms, and gift shop. Here are some additional details and if you have more specific questions, you can always contact the State Park directly at 607-535-4511.
- Construction is proceeding as expected and will not affect accessibility to the Gorge Trail, restrooms, or gift shop throughout the summer and fall season.
An artist rendering of what the area along the creek will look like after construction. What used to be a parking lot (somewhat diagonal across the middle of the photo), will be green, park space with grass, trees, and benches in the future.
- The Gorge Trail is expected to open for the season on May 20.
- There will still be guided walks offered along the Gorge Trail twice per day in-season in 2017.
- The portion of the Indian Trail near the Main Entrance is being stabilized. Restoration of that trail will take place with a future project.
- By May 20, visitors can also expect to see the traffic light at the current Main Entrance to the park, removed and a new light installed at the intersection of Route 14/North Franklin Street and 10th
- New crosswalks will be installed with signals to facilitate pedestrians and park visitors crossing the street at Route 14/North Franklin and 10th Visitors and locals alike are reminded to use caution and stay aware as this new traffic/pedestrian pattern emerges.
- The majority of parking for the Main Entrance to the Gorge Trail (as well as to the Visitor Center, restrooms, and gift shop) will be in the 10th Street Parking lot. This lot will be “pay and display” and available no later than May 20. Visitors are encouraged to begin using it as soon as it opens.
The renovated entrance shows plenty of grass and green space to enjoy. You can see the current gift shop and restrooms (red roofed building) which will remain open throughout construction.
- A relatively small number of parking spaces will remain on the park-side of Route 14/North Franklin Street but the entrance to this lot will be off of Pine Street, with the exit for this lot onto Route 14/North Franklin Street at the light aligned with 10th
- Renovations to the restrooms will also be completed and ready for the May 20 opening date.
- A new Park Visitor Center will open in 2018.
- Later this fall, finish work will take place including trim, networking cables, sidewalks, and more.
- The majority of renovation work is expected to be finished the end of this year with finishing touches (such as landscaping) to come in 2018.
- Project costs associated with renovations are being funded by Governor Cuomo’s Parks 2020 initiative.
The new entrance will be much more park-like and reflect the shining image of one of New York State's flagship parks and top attractions!
So, in short, do not allow a little construction to keep you away! You will still have access to the beautiful experience and amazing waterfalls that are associated with the Gorge Trail. Are you excited to plan your trip? Start by visiting our website or browsing our 2017 Travel Guide.
As always, our travel experts are here to help you with any questions you might have! Give us a call toll-free at 1-800-607-4552. You can also follow along on social media via our Facebook pages here and here, as well as on Instagram here.