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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Watkins Glen State Park, New York

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Surrounded by picturesque wineries and a glacially carved landscape of rolling hills, waterfalls, lakes and gorges, Watkins Glen State Park offers visitors unbelievable natural beauty in a family-friendly environment. Located in western New York State, on the southern tip of Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen is a small hamlet of a little more than 2,000 residents. At just over a four-hour drive from New York City, this natural wonder is a perfect weekend getaway for East Coast photographers. The spectacular 156-foot She-Qua-Ga Falls and the 165-foot Hector Falls are roadside-adjacent and easy to find, as they’re clearly marked on local maps. For visitors looking for a little variety, hundreds of other waterfalls can be found within a short drive in any direction. Many of these remote waterfalls are located on private land, so be sure to contact the owners to avoid trespassing.

The main feature of Watkins Glen State Park is the 11⁄2-mile-long gorge trail following the flow of a stream that has spent tens of thousands of years carving its way through the earth to create waterfalls, pools and cliffs. Several sections of the trail wind past massive 200-foot walls of towering sedimentary rock, giving visitors a geological window into the distant past.


Like much of the northeastern United States, Watkins Glen hosts four unique seasonal environments. Summer is often hot and balmy, and winter can remain subzero for days. During the spring and autumn, temperatures are typically milder, yet daily changes in weather can produce drastic shifts in temperature. Cool mornings and warm afternoons make layering essential as you hike the gorge trail, climbing its 800 steps from the bottom to the top.

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