The Watkins Glen Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park, New York, is an amazing moderate 1.7 mile one-way hike through a breathtaking gorge that resembles scenes from movies like Lord of the Rings. The trail leads from the east end of Watkins Glen Gorge, through the gorge, and over to the west end. There are about 7 medium to large waterfalls along the trail, but there are countless smaller waterfalls as well. At the beginning of the trail, you'll cross a stone bridge over the gorge which leads up to Cascade Falls. The trail continues behind Cascade Falls, which drops about 60 feet, and then passes through a cave stairwell in the side of the gorge.
Further down the trail, you'll find Rainbow Falls, which spills down the side of the gorge - you get to hike behind this one too. At Rainbow Falls, there are a few scenic lookout points with more stone bridges in the background. Watch your step in this area as the ground is usually slippery when wet.
This trail can get crowded too and is 1.7 miles one-way, but you can take the 1 mile Indian Trail back for a 2.7 mile round-trip. Heading back south on the trail is do-able, but depending on the foot traffic, it may not be as enjoyable.
Closed Nov - May
According to the park's pamphlet, this trail is closed from November to early May due to the freezing and thawing of shale rock and dangerous icy conditions in the gorge.
Dogs are not allowed on the gorge trail. Do not bring your dogs on the gorge trail.
Biking is not allowed on the gorge trail.
Parking for this trail can be found in a few different places. The main parking address will bring you to the eastern side of Watkins Glen State Park which is along South Franklin Street and 10th street in Watkins Glen, New York. The eastern parking lot brings you to the trailhead of this trail. There's also another entrance to the park to the south at 3600 Walnut Rd, Watkins Glen, NY 14891. If you park in the south lot, you can take the South Parking to Watkins Glen Gorge Trail over to this trail. If you're heading in from the west, you can also park at 3310 NY-409 Watkins Glen, NY which is on Station Rd (route 409). If you park at the western lot, you'll have to hike east along the Indian Trail in order to hike up the gorge from the east (which is the more scenic way to hike this trail).
This trail is extremely popular and the trail can get crowded quick. Show up early in the day to beat the crowds. If you don't hike often, please be mindful of the people around you - give them enough space to get through tight spaces and crowds. Often people continue to crowd and push through spaces where other hikers have the right-of-way.
Watkins Glen State Park has a minimal entry fee for parking. If you cannot find a parking spot at their paid lot, you can park for free elsewhere. Check their website for more details.
This trail should be considered moderate if walking the trail slow. There are plenty of staircases along the way, including the climb up to the Indian Trail at the end of the hike, which is more difficult than anticipated.