Watkins Glen State Park
This is a small state park in New York with the main entrance located in the village of Watkins Glen at the south end of Seneca Lake in the central Finger Lakes region. The central attraction of the park is the deep but narrow gorge that Glen Creek has cut in the surrounding rock making a series of cascades and pools as it descends to run into the lake.
There are a series of trails in the park. The main “Gorge trail” goes up the gorge winding along with the creek using stairs and bridges along the steep sides of the gorge for a mile and a half. At the far end are a series of staircases leading the rest of the way to the top of the gorge. There are also a few places to take side trails that cut to the top of the gorge. A good three mile loop is to take the Gorge Trail to the end, climb up to the upper entrance and then take one of the trails along the rim back towards the lower entrance to descend back to the Gorge Trail near the lower entrance.
The Gorge Trail itself is usually damp, so wear shoes with some shallow wading capacity and no-skid soles.
Parking cost was $8. And there are rest rooms and amenities at both the lower and upper entrances. Also a shuttle that runs between the two (cost unknown.)
Watkins Glen is also nicely placed for driving along either the Seneca Lake or Cayuga Lake wine trails. And twenty miles south is Corning, NY with access to I-86 and also US-15 running south to Williamsport and north central Pennsylvania.
Full series of photos at this site. (And feel free to browse the other albums.)
Watkins Glen is a “hanging valley” caused by glaciers cutting out a very deep eventual lake bed for Seneca Lake. So flooding and standard streamflow has caused the creek to cut a valley into the sedimentary rocks of the formations bordering the lake (mainly shales in this area). Since the rocks have varying resistence to erosion the creek descends in a series of cascades where harder rocks resist longer until undercut by the water.
There is another “hanging valley” to the east just north of Ithaca on Lake Cayuga. Taughannock Falls State Park is located there. It has a 3/4 mile walk back to a 215-foot waterfall. In this case there is sufficient resistant rock at the top of the descent so that a wider and generally flatter gorge is formed as the creek cuts back into the rock from the level of the lake.
A full selection of pictures at the below link. Feel free to browse the other albums.