Hiking in the Finger Lakes
Upstate New York has some wonderful hiking opportunities and the Finger Lakes is no exception. While the Finger Lakes is known for the wine region, it is also home to some beautiful state parks and waterfalls. Before the wineries and breweries open, use the morning to explore these areas and chase some waterfalls. Pro Tip: if you pay for parking at one state park, it is good at other state parks on the same day – a happy little accident we discovered and saved us another $8.
Watkins Glen State Park – the most popular park in the Finger Lakes due to the accessibility right int downtown Watkins Glen and the incredible falls throughout the gorge. The park features rock formations and waterfalls in easy to moderate trails. We visited Watkins Glen on our first trip and it was definitely a highlight. Make sure yo get here early if you want to avoid the crowds.
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge – The preserve is massive with over 9,000 arces. There is a driving path through the preserve as well as walking paths and lookouts. We spotted several types of duck, enormous cranes, finches, and many we could not identify. We finished the driving loop and took some extra time to walk one of the trails and visit a viewing tower. The area is beautiful so if you are looking for an outdoor activity that does not involve anything intense or hiking, and/or are interested in photography and/or wildlife, this is a great option.
Keuka Lake State Park – We have not visited the park yet but it is on the to-do list for next time. While this looks like simply a park that is near the lake, the nearby Outlet Trail offers a trail to a waterfall.
Buttermilk Falls State Park – This park features a gorge and multiple waterfalls similar to Watkins Glen State Park. At the time when visited during COVID precautions, there was only one direction to hike so we went up the Rim Trail and down the Gorge Trail. Unlike the other hikes, this one gains elevation very quickly and regardless of which trail you take, there is an uphill climb involved. When you reach the peak, you are rewarded with a series a beautiful waterfalls throughout the gorge.
Taughannock Falls State Park – Taughannock Falls State Park is a very easy three mile loop that ends with 215 foot falls – not too shabby! It was definitely worth the drive out here to have a scenic, peaceful walk and then have this massive fall at the end. There is also a trail above the gorge that can be completed as well. When we visited, the river was pretty dry and you have the opportunity to walk right where the river would run when the water is full. There is also a park across from the falls for relaxation and water activities on the lake.
Robert Treman State Park – We have not visited the park yet but it is on the to-do list for next time. Similar to the other gorges, it features several waterfalls including one that is 115 feet tall.
Where is your favorite place to hike in the Finger Lakes area? Which ones did I miss and should visit on our next trip?
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