Watkins Glen State Park: Next Stop on the Great Empire Pass Tour

Watkins Glen State Park: Next Stop on the Great Empire Pass Tour
Once we had purchased the Empire Pass at Keuka State Park, the rest of our Finger Lakes’ itinerary fell neatly into place.We headed off to Watkins Glen State Park in search of the boys’ much-beloved waterfalls. I had originally been angling to camp in the park, but the thought of dry camping after purchasing the new luxury camper sent my husband into fits of despair. If you are in the region, you absolutely MUST make a trip here. It was truly more beautiful than any of us had expected.


Couple of tips…

1. Get there early! There was a huge difference in the crowds when we arrived at around 10 am and when we left around 1pm. This place is best enjoyed with a bit of peace and quiet. You will be in even better shape if Max and Theo aren’t there to practice their ‘echo’ calls. Although I would take them over a tour bus any day, I understand that I may be in the minority.

2. Start from the North Entrance and work your way down to the main entrance on the Gorge Trail. It is much more serene at the top and the views looking down the Gorge are stunning.

3. Loop back up the Indian Trail, or if you have little ones like us, get in line at the bottom for the shuttle to bring you back to where you parked. The shuttle was a welcome amenity, however it gets a little tricky…there is not an official line or tickets or anything. So basically people race and shove their way to the front while trying to appear mature and dignified. There are better ways to finish out a hike, but hey, it beat dragging the boys back up the trail.

4. When you are done, go eat at the Glen Mountain Market in downtown Watkins Glen. We had delicious sandwiches here, and the boys devoured their egg and cheeses. The pastries were perfect, and we left with some loaves of bread for our BLT dinner the next night. I wish this deli was in my hometown.

5. Rest up for tomorrow’s trip to another State Park, because you, like us, should eke out every last penny’s worth of value from that Empire Pass. I may have issues, but at least they lead us to some pretty fabulous places…


  1. shanks324

    Thanks for the tips! We are heading out there the first weekend of October! Keeping our fingers crossed that the weather will be ok!

    • livelylittlecampers

      Might be a little cold for cliff jumping at Buttermilk Falls, but you have to do that hike anyhow:-) Great hiking for younger kids…short, interesting, and easily accessible trails!


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