Travel

A day trip to Watkins Glen State Park from Niagara Falls

Known for its world famous motor racetrack, award winning wineries and a state park full of waterfalls Watkins Glen is a great place for a road trip with Instagram worthy scenery for the whole family. I travelled to Niagara Falls with my friends and on our way to Niagara Falls, New York we decided to take a day trip to the beautiful and popular Watkins Glen State Park in Finger Lakes. Located on the southern tip of Seneca Lake in the Finger lakes, Watkins Glen State Park is a gorgeous place for hiking, camping and outdoor recreation.

As we were only doing a day trip to Watkins Glen on our way to the majestic Niagara Falls, we decided to visit Watkins Glen State Park, famous for its stream -carved gorge now preserved as a State Park.

Fun Facts about Watkins Glen State Park

  1. The gorge derived its name from Dr. Samuel Watkins and his brother John who acquired land in the area in the 1850’s.
  2. To increase tourist appeal, in the mid 1920’s the word “Glen” was added to the town name – Watkins.
  3. Within two miles, the glen’s stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs generating 19 waterfalls.
  4. The gorge emerged more than 2.5 million years ago during the Pleistocene Ice Age when the polar ice sheet advanced and receded and making it wider and deeper each time the ice sheet advanced southward.

When to Visit?

Watkins Glen is open all year however the best time to visit the park is anytime other than the winter months. Personally, we visited the state park in May and thought it was the perfect time to enjoy and explore the State Park without it being too hot or too cold. We combined it with our trip to the Niagara Falls.

Where to enter the park ?

There are three entrances to enter the park – Upper, South and Main. We entered the park through the South Entrance as we also made a quick stop at the Hector Falls along the way which are the third tallest falls in the state. Since the South entrance sits between the main and upper entrances its a great place to start as you will be in the middle of the park and you can retrace your steps as you like. There is no fee to visit the park although there is a parking fee of $8 per vehicle. The upper entrance is not as busy as the other entrances and on long holidays or weekends it may be easier to find parking here in case the main and south entrance are full.

The scenic gorge trail is family friendly however not the most accessible for those with mobility issues. It is an easy and incredible hike with gorgeous views but just be careful as the wet leaves and waterfalls make the path a little slippery sometimes.

We explored walking along the spectacular gorge soaking in the lush greens, waterfalls and fresh air. Walking through a spiral staircase we found ourselves at the Suspension bridge crossing over Watkins Glen Gorge. It made me get lost in nature while also connecting with myself on a deeper level and feeling absolutely rejuvenated.

While all the falls are beautiful my absolute favorite was the Rainbow Falls. We spent most of our time at the striking, delicate, dramatic and beautiful Rainbow Falls. The view from here is absolutely marvelous. The water falling from above, the bridge in the background, the lovely stone stairs is something that looks like from a fairytale. Did you know – The falls get its name from the rainbows that appear in the mist of the falls on sunny days.

As we explored the gorge, we were pleasantly surprised by the powerful Cavern Cascade. The spiral tunnel seemed like a dead end but as we walked down, it led us underneath the Cavern Cascade. Try to put your hand underneath the falls and you will be surprised to find out how strong the current is.

Tips for visiting Watkins Glen State Park

  1. Carry water as there is no water fountain along the trail.
  2. Wear waterproof and comfortable shoes.
  3. During the summer months there is a bus shuttle between the three entrances which helps navigates around the park.
  4. Carry a map, it will come in handy to know where you are and what you would like to explore.

If you are looking for the ultimate travel guide to Niagara Falls which is only a 2.5 hours drive check out my blog post here

Hope you enjoyed reading my post! If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or email me and I will be happy to answer them. For all other travel guides and to receive my blog posts subscribe to the blog follow me on Instagram.

Travel

Sperry Road to Stony Ledge Trail – Mount Greylock State Reservation

Mount Greylock, the highest peak in the state of Massachusetts has an elevation of 3491 feet and is one of the most scenic mountains in the United States. Last Saturday we decided to explore one of the trails Mount Greylock has to offer. We decided to pick a short trail with stunning views of Mount Greylock – Sperry Road to Stony Ledge Trail located near Adams, Massachusetts. It takes approximately 3 hours to reach the trail from Boston but is so worth it.

On our way my husband and I stopped for breakfast at On a Roll Cafe which is on the way to the hike to Sperry Road to Stony Ledge Trail from Boston. I cannot recommend this place enough. The food is amazing and the outdoor seating is absolutely amazing to soak in the summer with the lush greenery and a small manmade pond around it. We got the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Breakfast Burrito, a side of home cut fries and some juice and they were delicious. At the corner there is an Antique store called Route 7 Trading Post which we explored until we got a table as there was a wait time of approximately 20 minutes and they have some great pieces for anyone interested to get antiques.

After some breakfast we continued on our drive until we reached the 2 mile trail. The trailhead starts at CCC Dynamite Trail and there is parking available right at the beginning of the trail. We parked the car and headed on to the gravel road leading us to the Sperry Road to Stony ledge Trail. This trail is easy and is great for all skill levels but offers some magnificient views. Definitely will be a great place to come back to in order catch the beautiful fall colors.

On the trail we saw some beautiful butterflies, cranberry trees and some beautiful wild flowers.

There is also another diversion which takes you to the March Cataract Fall Trails, something we plan to explore the next time we visit there. The best time to visit the falls is definitely when it has rained as otherwise it will not be the same.

The 2 mile trail is an easy trail to soak in the beauty of the mountains without hiking all day and gains approximately 1500 feet in altitude. The stony ledge delivers panoramic views of the foliage and wild forest. After soaking in the views for sometime we started walking back down towards our car as we decided to drive up to the summit.

One great thing about Mount Greylock is that you can drive all the way up to the summit and explore the view as well even if you do not plan to do the summit hike. As we started driving back again from our trail to the summit there are a couple of lookout points on the way offering some dynamic views.

There is parking available at the summit and once we parked we explored the splendorous views by walking around to explore the Eastern, Western, Southern and Northern views.

At the Summit, there is a 92 feet tower Veterans War Memorial Tower built to honor the states dead from World War I. On a clear day, visitors can view as far as 90 miles to the north from the top of the tower. The tower’s beacon is possibly the most powerful light in Massachusetts intended to shine each night to honor the memory of the fallen heroes except for a few weeks in Spring and Fall to avoid confusing the migrating birds. Currently the tower is closed due to Covid-19 however the views are spectacular just by itself without having to actually climb the tower.

The Bascom Lodge located at the summit serves weekend warriors and hikers. It is currently closed due to the pandemic but can be seen from the outside as you walk around.

All in all a great easy trail to explore with spectacular views. Highly Recommend it!

Travel

Halibut Point State Park, MA – An Easy and Beautiful Trail

Halibut Point State Park located in the town of Rockport, MA is a small trail that spans approximately 2 miles but offers great views. This State Park is approximately one hour to the north of Boston and sits along the Atlantic Ocean featuring the 60 feet deep water filled granite quarry and the relaxing rocky ocean coast.

My husband and I visited this Park on Saturday at around 10.45 am however entered the park only at around 11.30 am as it is a very busy park and had to wait to park the car as the parking was full. Will highly recommend visiting before 10.00 am as once the parking lot is full you might need to wait until another hour to get parking.

Admission – There is a $5 parking fee for all Massachusetts residents and a $20 parking fee for all non Massachusetts residents.

This State Park is a perfect blend of great history and stunning views and is accessible all round the year. The sheets of granite that makes up Halibut Point are around 440 million years old and the quarry ended its operations in 1929 with the collapse of the Cape Ann granite industry.

Just like Massachusetts, this State Park has history under every rock and on every corner. Highly recommend this loop for Instagram worthy photos, the rich history of the granite quarry business and also to visit the watch tower in the visitor center from the WWII era which protected Boston and Portsmouth from attack by the sea. The watch tower offers great panoramic views. Currently the visitor center is closed due to Covid however there is so much more to explore and enjoy.

On a clear day the view stretches from Crane Bridge in Ipswich to Mount Agamenticus in Maine and the Isles of Shoals off the Coast of New Hampshire.

My husband and I spent sometime exploring the numbered self guided tour understanding the evolution of rock quarrying and the significance. On weekends from Columbus Day to Memorial Day they offer quarry tours and on every Saturday morning the tour includes a granite cutting demonstration. Currently they are not offering these tours due to Covid but it is fun exploring yourself too. We definitely want to take the tour once it opens to experience and see for ourselves the demonstration of the granite cutting.

This would be a great spot for a picnic with family and friends to enjoy some snacks while taking in the ocean views which make you feel so calm and relaxed.

After we were done exploring this beautiful loop and trails we headed to grab some lunch at Markouk Bread which is a tiny spot serving Lebanese and Mediterranean food. They make the breads fresh to order which makes it so delicious. We absolutely loved the Manoushie Special and Mohamara flatbreads, hummus and the falafel wrap.

Some other spots on my list to explore around Halibut Point State Park are Good Harbor Beach and Wingaersheek Beach. This can all easily be enjoyed in a day and is great for taking a day trip from Boston.