Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

In the Finger Lakes–Beautiful Watkins Glen

Sunday & Monday, July 10 & 11, 2016                                          Most Recent Posts:
Sampson State Park                                                                    
Fun Time at the Perry Chalk Art Festival
Romulus, New York                                                                      Mary Jemison and the Letchworth Museum




We get a leisurely start this morning on our 80 mile drive to Romulus New York and Sampson State Park.  The park is a former Navy and Airforce Base with nearly all signs of the military removed other than the maze of deteriorating asphalt roads through its 2070 acres.

The campground has 5 loops and over 245 electric sites as well as 64 boondocking sites.  None of the sites has water.  There are spigots centrally located and you can take on water as you enter at the dumpsite.  I always wonder about potable water at dump sites.  Lucky for us, our site had a water spigot in our backyard so we just filled up when we parked.  It looks like many sites can accomodate any size RV. 

Each loop is designed in a circle with a large grassy area in the middle which is ringed with back in sites, There are then sites opposte those and across the road which ring the outside of the circle.  I saw no pull throughs.  The one bath house for each loop is inside grassy area and those backed into the grassy area have a huge communal backyard.

Although the sign on the road in claims that most sites have a water view, that is just flat out not true and I don’t see how it ever could have been.   Only loop 5 has one section right by the water.
More details about the park in a later post.


Our friends David and Sharon moved in today as well.  They are in a loop closer to the water in terms of walking distace.  That alone makes me like it better. LOL!  They are here for 8 days and we will be here for 14 days.  We’re looking forward to lots of fun times with them.  This afternoon they come over to help us take care of the raspberry rhubarb pie David got yesterday at the Perry Farmer’s Market during the Perry Chalk Art Festival.

I think they liked it better than I did.  I’m not a big rhubarb fan.  Too tart.





This morning we all head out early to drive to Watkins Glen.  We have heard so many rave reviews of this place that we are super excited to see it.  We’re hoping it isn’t too badly affected by the 9 month drought here in the Finger Lakes. 

David and Sharon graciously provide transport in their super duper can do anything truck.  We manage to be the second vehicle in the parking lot.  Remember this for our exit picture.IMG_0348


The gorge starts right here.  We are going to enter through the little door on the right into a tunnel, up some stairs and cross the bridge over the first waterfall.  Pretty dramatic entrance but it’s nothing compared to hiking the gorge.  It’s important to say up front that even with pehaps 10% of its usual water, Watkins Glen is spectacular. 




Notice the nice gate they can close off after hours.  There are gates like this at both the gorge and rim trails at the top and bottom.   No sneaking in, they hope.




The action of the river has created a beautiful backdrop for this shot of Sharon and Dave.  The walkways along it are all stone and fit right into the beauty.



There are 19 waterfalls in Watkins Glen.  I’m in heaven!!   This isn’t the first one we have seen but it is the first of two that we get to walk behind.  Just imagine this fall with even 50% more water.


It’s the stair step picture.



As we get just beyond the falls,  we notice a rainbow in the waterfall.


That’s the suspension bridge WAY up there.  It’s actually even further away than it looks.



Pretty sure I’m not posting  pictures of all 19 falls but they are so lovely it’s hard to resist.




There are also 834 steps to the top of the gorge so be prepared.


This bridge is about 1/3 of the way up and you can shorten your hike by crossing it and taking the rim trail back down.  Otherwise it is 3 miles round trip.  Or you can catch a shuttle($5) at either the top or the bottom to take you back to your car.




I love the sensuous curves the water has carved out all along the gorge.  That’s a pool I’d sure like to swim in.  No swimming allowed though even in low water level times.





Pausing before more up, up , up. 




It’s amazing how green it is here in spite of such a long long drought.




Behind another waterfall and up some more stairs.  Sharon’s wearing the right color for this dark landscape.








David and I are lucky enough to see this Gray Petaltail Dragonfly.  He flies in and lands on the rock wall between us.  Gray Petaltails live in forest where the ground is wet from constant seeps of clean water.  As of 2006 this gorge is one of only 11 confirmed locations in New York where they have been found.  Becasue of limited habitat this dragonfly has been listed as a Species of Special Concern in New York and several other states.



The Gray Petaltail’s friendly nature is a threat to its survival.  They are giant dragonflies and sometimes land on people.  Most people’s instinct is to swat them.   Look before you swat is really the watchword here.   He really was friendly and hung around a long time so I could take numerous pictures.


We can tell by the flatter terrain that we are nearing the top. 


We hike up our last set up steps which has this bench for sitting.  David takes advantage.





We head out to what is supposed to be an overlook but that was in the past. No views now.  All grown over.  Instead, today we get a sermon by our favorite declaimer who chooses not to hike down to check out the view.  It’s a Monday, not a Wednesday Nancy and Bill.




Can’t you just hear him??



We head back down and after crossing the suspension bridge we take the Rim Trail back down to the parking lot.



The rim trail takes us into the forest where we find a nice log as our lunch spot for the day.


The rim trail is what one thinks of as a regular trail through the woods and of course it goes down, down, down.  Very few views.  The last stretch is a set of stairs called  Couch’s Staircase. Notice the gate just like at the beginning. 




Remember the shot of the truck in the parking lot this morning?  Look at it now.



On the way home, David follows his nose and takes us all around and up and down.  This is wine country and we count 25 wineries in 13 miles on our way back.


What a terrific day we had, made even better by such great friends.  Thanks Sharon and Dave for driving and being such wonderful hiking companions.

If you are in the Finger Lakes Watkins Glen should be first on your list as it was ours.  Hopefully you’ll be here when it is really roaring but even if you aren’t, you can see how beautiful it is.  

Mother Nature is quite a sculptor!


  1. Beautiful place and great pics to show it. Nice to go with friends to have more couple pics of you and David. That dragon fly pic is awesome, I could not catch one at our local lake, zipping here to there. Nice to see the parking situation also, note to self get there early.

  2. Yea!!! You are finally caught up with your blog to our adventures with you both in the Finger Lakes. Watkins Glen took our breath away. We loved being "neighbors" and look forward to the next time our travel roads get to cross paths.

  3. Breathtaking carving by water. And so many lovely waterfalls. Looks like the kind of trail to practice forest bathing.

  4. Watkins Glen is another one of those places we went as kids but I have no memory of. Wonder if we went to that overlook. I bet there were views 50 years ago!

  5. Watkins Glen is right up there with my favorite places that I have been so far on our travels. Thanks for capturing the day in words. We look forward to the next time we can share an adventure together. Happy trails dear friends.

  6. We lived just across the border in PA for three years when the kids were little. This was one of our weekend camping spots:) Sure is gorgeous!

  7. The gorge really is an amazing place- beautiful and photogenic.

    You would like to travel along the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario. Plenty of trails, and many, many waterfalls along its spine.

  8. We were fortunate to be there during HIGH waters!!! However, judging from your fabulous photos...that doesn't really make a difference. It is spectacular whenever you go. I think it would be gorgeous with some icicles, but I know I will never see that;o)) Love the photo of "I Told You SO" David;o)) Keep having fun!!!

  9. I think this is one of the most beautiful places you've been to and written about lately. It's my favorite, for sure.

  10. And he proclaimed from his high platform that all should take better care of this planet Earth as it is our "Garden of Eden", and the most important of all we might hope to leave to our children. And he also proclaims to all to retire early as you never know how many more days of LIFE you will be granted ...

  11. What a gorgeous spot, and so fun to share it with good friends! I'm including the Gray Petaltail dragonfly as one of your friends. :-) The path with the stone walkways and bridges really enhances the beauty of the trail. I had never heard of Watkins Glen, but I'm adding it to our east coast trip list. (p.s. I agree—rhubarb pie is too tart!!)

  12. I never knew much about Watkins Glen except for the nearby race track. What a beautiful place, a true wonder of nature. It must be something to see when there is no drought conditions, I bet the roar of the water then would be something to see, er, hear!

    Might be a great destination for next year's motorcycle trip... ;c)

  13. What a beautiful place. I love this type of gorge. It is amazing what the power of water can do over time. Glad you had such a great day.


  14. We've heard so many cool things about the gorge. Unfortunately we were wine tasting most of the time, not hiking. Great fun you had!

  15. What a beautiful gorge and amazing waterfalls. Too bad we did not know about Watkins Glen when we were in that area, instead we went to the Adirondacks.
    Nice shot of the dragonfly and lucky you to have spied on it.

  16. We had the opportunity to hike the Glen last year, it was so crowded - how did you get it to yourself? Beautiful pictures!

  17. Getting there early is definitely the trick! This has been on my list for three years, although I didn't realize it was over 800 steps up :-( The swirling carved path is truly amazing. I'm thinking you're able to see even more of it with the low water, a treat many have never seen. Still, more water would be spectacular too. That little pool looks like Nirvana. Your dragonfly buddy is very handsome, thanks for the info. Fun to share a pretty place with fun friends!

  18. That truly is a WOW spot! I love the sculpted rock! And what a stair workout!

  19. That is indeed a gorgeous gorge ... I love all those sinuous lines. It would be a truly amazing place with even more water running.

  20. Beautiful waterfalls all the way through that hike and a lot of stairs...you certainly got your exercis :) The contour of the rocks is so amazing! I can see why that's a popular hike.

  21. Love all the waterfalls, amazing the things water can do. I've also heard good things about Watkins Glen but never had the chance to stop. It's now on the list of places to check out.

  22. I am so glad to see you made it to Watkins Glen. Its an amazing place. Enjoying your interpretation of areas I have visited so many times. I have read so many of your blogs from all around the United States, it seems surreal to visit your space posted from my own backyard. Your "eye" view makes me appreciate my wheel-less home so much more. Thanks.

  23. Beautiful place! Grew up so close to it and have never been there:(


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