With one New York day remaining, Bill and I again traveled about an hour and a half, this time northwest, to Watkins Glen. Bill had been there while in college and for me, the location brought back memories of the Summer Jam of 1973, a concert I unfortunately did not attend but certainly heard about while in high school!
Our first stop was Watkins Glen State Park where our plan was to hike the Gorge Trail. The Gorge was, of course, formed over the past million years or so from the movement of water in the form of glaciers. Privately owned, the area was opened to the public in 1863 and then purchased by the state of New York in 1906. As a State Park, visitors enjoy hiking the chasm and delighting in the nineteen waterfalls visible along the trails. Sometimes pictures speak louder than words with highlights being…
- Cavern Cascade – one of the two waterfalls that you can walk behind!
- Suspension Bridge – During the Great Flood of 1935, the water rose to within 5 feet of this 85 foot high bridge!
- The Narrows – Here the “micro-climate” is similar to a rainforest – ferns and mosses love it!
- Glen Cathedral – In this area the climate is closer to a desert where drought-resistant flora thrives.
- Rainbow Falls – the second waterfall visitors can walk behind.
In addition to the principal Gorge Trail, we sampled the offshoot trails including Indian Trail and the South Rim Trail. The Trails end at Jacob’s Ladder which is 180 steps up out of the gorge! Needless to say, we reached our step goal for the day – and more – and what a beautiful way to do it!
We couldn’t leave town without stopping at Watkins Glen International, a speedway that hosts NASCAR, Grand Prix races, a variety of festivals, and many private events. The course is different than other raceways in that it has what they call a short course as well as a long course, and the spectator grandstands are located at varying locations along the entire course rather than being all together in one spot. We had hoped to take part in an activity where for $25 you can take your own vehicle – in our case, the Jeep – and complete 3 laps of the Speedway course! Unfortunately, my investigation into this activity was not specific enough because when we arrived we had missed our chance because the opportunity occurs only twice a day!
The gentleman at the Speedway gate allowed us to enter the speedway and directed us to a grandstand to have a look. He told us that a private car club had rented the entire speedway for the day so we might be able to catch some of them trying out their cars on the course. After sitting in the stand and taking it all in, we started to leave and then all of a sudden we heard the growl of engines and then there they came! For not being professional drivers, they sure were driving fast! It became mesmerizing as more and more cars entered the track – we found it difficult to drag ourselves away!
Located at the tip of Seneca Lake, the town of Watkins Glen is also at the start of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. We did not have time to investigate any wineries, so there you have it – a great reason to return!
Stay Calm and Travel On…