Minnehaha Falls, New York

I visited Watkins Glen State Park almost 4 years ago to the day, and I guess it’s as good of a time as any to reminisce. In early May, Watkins Glen is often still trying to shrug off the effects of winter. When we visited, only about a third of the trail was available for hiking. The other two-thirds was blocked off because park rangers still had to make sure that there weren’t any dangerous new obstacles. The park was very good about making us aware that only a portion of the trail was hike-able before we paid the entry fee.

As you start along the trail, Sentry Falls is right in view. There is an uphill climb, though it is not particularly bad. I believe Minnehaha Falls is the second clearly visible waterfall along the trail. It is a difficult waterfall to capture, as there’s not an angle that is especially good for photographing the falls. It is easy to capture the stunning effects of erosion. As you continue further along, you will encounter the Cavern Cascade.

So if you’re planning on visiting Watkins Glen State Park, what’s the best bet? Visit in late May or early June when you’ll have more luck hiking the whole Gorge Trail.

Directions:

  1. Watkins Glen State Park is directly off of NY-14 in Watkins Glen.
  2. Pay the state park entrance fee, and then park.
  3.  This waterfall can be seen along the Gorge Trail.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: up to 3 miles round-trip

Minnehaha Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Minnehaha Falls?

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Waterfall in Watkins Glen SP, New York

The last post about Watkins Glen State Park was a while ago, so I might as well take a little time to inform you again about this really interesting state park with numerous waterfalls. Right inside the city of Watkins Glen is the state park of the mentioned glen. When you can visit, you’ll be introduced to a number of different waterfalls with very different personalities. The problem happens to be that you can’t always visit. When my dad and I visited in early May, the state park system was still cleaning up the damage that had occurred during the winter. (It seems to be an expected event in many of the glens.) At least there’s a sense of placing safety first here.

There are some really impressive waterfalls in the park, and then there are some smaller drops that aren’t necessarily the most interesting, but they can still be rather cool. Often, the rock formations around the falls are the nifty part. This specific drop is one of those smaller drops that hasn’t been named, but it should still be recognized.

Directions:

  1. Watkins Glen State Park is directly off of NY-14 in Watkins Glen.
  2. Pay the state park entrance fee, and then park.
  3. This waterfall can be seen along the Gorge Trail.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 5′
Length of Hike: up to 3 miles round-trip

Waterfall in Watkins Glen in May 2009

Where in the World is this Waterfall in Watkins Glen?

Buttermilk Falls, New York

Buttermilk Falls is the main attraction of Buttermilk Falls State Park near Ithaca, New York. That doesn’t mean it’s the only waterfall in the park. The are multiple waterfalls, upwards of 20 depending on what you consider a waterfall. Buttermilk Falls is the largest of these waterfalls, and it may also be the first waterfall you see as you enter the park.

I say that because I entered the park on the gorge trail at the W. King Road entrance, and then hiked downhill. That meant Buttermilk Falls was the last waterfall that I saw. This means a more strenuous hike back uphill if you choose to do this. On the other hand, if you just want to start at Buttermilk Falls and then make the decision to hike to see the other falls, start at the lowest entrance, which is also probably the easiest to find.

Directions:

  1. There are multiple ways to access this entrance to the park. I think the easiest is to get onto NY-96B (aka Danby Rd.) heading south from Ithaca.
  2. Heading south, you will come to W. King Road. Turn right onto W. King Road.
  3. Head to the sign for the entrance to Buttermilk Falls State Park. Turn into the entrance.
  4. From here, you can park right there, and cross W. King Road. The entrance to the gorge should be rather obvious.
  5. The Gorge Trail is the best choice to view the falls, though it is only open during certain times of the year.

Accessibility: Ascent (4/10 moderate/difficult), Descent (9/10 easy)
Height: 80′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip (to see falls from lower entrance), 1.2 miles round-trip to see many of the falls

Buttermilk Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Buttermilk Falls?

Waterfall #6 in Buttermilk Falls SP, New York

There are numerous, numerous waterfalls in Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca, New York. It would definitely be helpful or even cool if they named each of the different waterfalls something…different. First off, Buttermilk Falls is one of the most common waterfall names. Second, it would be easier to identify the falls if they actually had a name!

I’ve called this one waterfall #6. It’s by no means the largest of the falls in the park. It’s actually one of the smallest, but it’s still pretty nonetheless. The whole park is beautiful. The Gorge Trail, where the falls are best viewed from, is open during certain times of the year, though. Luckily, when I visited the park in early May, it was one of the only parks to have the gorge trail completely open. Most of the other state parks with waterfalls and gorge trails still had the trails closed.

One more thing about Buttermilk Falls: the park has a rather steep incline. If you enter from the W. King Road, the way down is not bad at all. The way back up is tougher. The opposite is true if you enter from the other entrance. Beware! The best way to view the falls would be to start at the W. King Road entrance, descend down to the other entrance, where somebody could pick you up.

Directions:

  1. There are multiple ways to access this entrance to the park. I think the easiest is to get onto NY-96B (aka Danby Rd.) heading south from Ithaca.
  2. Heading south, you will come to W. King Road. Turn right onto W. King Road.
  3. Head to the sign for the entrance to Buttermilk Falls State Park. Turn into the entrance.
  4. From here, you can park right there, and cross W. King Road. The entrance to the gorge should be rather obvious.
  5. The Gorge Trail is the best choice to view the falls, though it is only open during certain times of the year.

Accessibility: Ascent (4/10), Descent (9/10)
Height: 5′
Length of Hike: 1.2 miles round-trip (if you start near NY-96)

A smaller waterfall in Buttermilk Falls State Park

Where in the World is Waterfall #6?

Rainbow Falls, New York

Rainbow Falls in May 2009

When we visited Watkins Glen State Park in early May, we were only partly lucky. The first third of the Gorge Trail was open, so we did see many interesting waterfalls. Unluckily, that meant we couldn’t see Rainbow Falls and a few other falls from the Gorge Trail. The view of Rainbow Falls that we got from the Rim Trail wasn’t bad at all, but I’m under the impression that the cool part about Rainbow Falls is being able walk underneath the falls. We weren’t able to do that. Oh well. I would suggest visiting later in May, even though the park is open in early May and all of the snow is melted by then.

Directions:

  1. Watkins Glen State Park is directly off of NY-14 in Watkins Glen.
  2. Pay the state park entrance fee, and then park.
  3. Rainbow Falls can be seen from the Gorge Trail or the Rim Trail.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: up to 3 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Rainbow Falls?

Cavern Cascade, New York

Cavern Cascade in May 2009

I was thinking about Cavern Cascade, and realized that it isn’t actually a cascade, but instead a plunge waterfall. A cascade usually has multiple drops due to rock steps. I didn’t see any rock steps…But that’s an aside.

The waterfall is actually very cool. It was one of the waterfalls that I saw in Watkins Glen State Park, considering that only the first third of the Gorge Trail was open when I visited in early May. It’s difficult to miss this waterfall if you walk along the Gorge Trail, as the trail leads directly BEHIND the falls. You’re sure to get wet!!!

Directions:

  1. Watkins Glen State Park is directly off of NY-14 in Watkins Glen.
  2. Pay the state park entrance fee, and then park.
  3. Cavern Cascade can be seen from the Gorge Trail.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 43′
Length of Hike: up to 3 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Cavern Cascade?

The Narrows, New York

The Narrows in May 2009

Watkins Glen is a beautiful set of waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region of New York. It’s just too bad the whole Gorge Trail wasn’t open when we visited in early May. Only the first third of the Gorge Trail was open, but we still got to see some great waterfalls.

The Narrows is a group of small drops that are forced through a very narrow gap in between the rocks that form Watkins Glen. As the water flows through The Narrows, it erodes the rocks into extremely interesting formations.

Directions:

  1. Watkins Glen State Park is directly off of NY-14 in Watkins Glen.
  2. Pay the state park entrance fee, and then park.
  3. The Narrows can be seen from the Gorge Trail.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 6′
Length of Hike: up to 3 miles round-trip

Where in the World is The Narrows?