Watkins Glen and Schuyler County can best be described as the place where Mother Nature meets Main Street. With dozens of waterfalls, miles upon miles of hiking trails, and parks and paths around seemingly every corner - there is no shortage of things to see and do in our outdoors. Here are a few of our top suggestions for places to enjoy the outdoors in Watkins Glen and Schuyler County:
► Watkins Glen State Park in the heart of downtown Watkins Glen offers a breathtaking walking experience of cliffs and waterfalls - 19 in less than 2 miles. It was voted the #3 State Park in the country in a USA Today Readers' Choice Poll only a few years ago. There is an $8 parking fee per vehicle. The Gorge Trail is open seasonally (typically mid-May through the end of October, though this is weather dependent) and The North Rim Trail is open year-round. Learn more here.
Address: 1009 North Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 / Phone: (607) 535-4511
Guided Tours: There are guided tours of the Gorge Trail beginning in late June and ending soon after Labor Day in early September. Tours depart at 10 am and 1 pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Tours are not offered on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Shuttle: The Watkins Glen State Park shuttle runs on weekends. It shuttles visitors between the Upper Entrance and the Main Entrance. In other words, if you begin your hike at the Main Entrance, hike the length of the Gorge Trail to the Upper Entrance, you can then hop aboard the convenient shuttle for a ride back downtown to the Main Entrance. The cost is $5 per person. The shuttle runs daily throughout the summer beginning in mid-to-late June. You can pick it up every 20-30 minutes.
► The Finger Lakes National Forest is nestled between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, located just a few minutes drive from downtown Watkins Glen. It is the only national forest in New York State, one of only three in the Northeast, and it is expansive - covering over 16,000 acres. Open year-round for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and more. There is no fee to enter, with only nominal fees for camping. Swing by the Ranger Station on Route 414 in Hector for maps, expert information, and suggestions! Learn more here.
Ranger Station Address: 5218 State Route 414, Hector, NY 14841 / Phone: (607) 546-4470
► The Catharine Valley Trail is a year-round recreational trail that accommodates walking, bicycling, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing through the glacially-carved valley south of Seneca Lake. You can access it at points throughout Watkins Glen and Schuyler County. Open year-round and there is no fee to enter. Stop by our Visitor Center at 214 N. Franklin Street to pick up a map and click here to learn more.
► Sugar Hill State Forest is about seven miles west of the village of Watkins Glen. It covers over 9,000 acres and offers an abundance of recreational activities. There are miles of trails for hiking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and horseback riding. Roads throughout the area offer great biking opportunities. This park is largely unmanned" so we highly recommend finding maps online in advance. Open year-round, there is no fee to enter and you can learn more by clicking here.
Address: 3361 Tower Road, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 / Phone: (607) 776-2165
► Havana Glen Park located just south of the village of Montour Falls offers a playground, camping, pavilions and picnicking, and the breathtaking Eagle Cliff Falls, which is just a short walk along a well-formed path from the parking lot. Closed for the season until spring. $2 per car to enter.
Address: 135 Havana Glen Road, Montour Falls, NY 14865 / Phone: (607) 535-9476
► The Finger Lakes Trail is a footpath for hikers which stretches 560 miles from the PA/NY border in Allegany State Park to the Catskill Forest Preserve. 48 miles wind through Schuyler County, traversing Sugar Hill State Forest, Watkins Glen State Park, Finger Lakes National Forest, Texas Hollow State Forest, Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, among others. Not looking for quite so long a hike? The Queen Catharine Marsh Trail portion of the Finger Lakes Trail described here, offers a 9-mile loop, starting at the entrance to Watkins Glen State Park.