There is something magic about our gully, glen and gorge trails. They call out to us from their deep, dark, cool, and quiet caverns. They lead us along their timeline, exposing history as their waterfalls walk backwards. Characterized by their crumbling Devonian-shale walls, crater-like Tully Limestone creek beds, and unique wild flowers, plants, and trees, gorges feel other-worldly at times. To re-purpose John Muir’s feelings about mountains, “The gorge is calling, and I must go.”
Start checking websites in mid-May for gorge trails to open for the season. New York State Parks department tries to open by Memorial Day ones that have been closed for the winter. The ability to open them to the public sooner depends on the weather, water-flow, the amount of repairs needed to ensure public safety, and debris that needs to be cleared. For places like Watkins Glen, if you’re able to visit when the gorge trails are opened, you’ll enjoy a peaceful experience before summer crowds star arriving by the bus load.
Gorge Trail #1 is 7 miles. You do not need to start in one specific spot as it passes through some of the most popular areas and overlooks. You could also park a second vehicle at the end to transport you back to where you started. Stairs and steep cliff edges make this a challenging hike, albeit spectacular!
Gorge Trail is .75 miles one-way. It is one of the only gorge trails open in winter. It is also one of the flattest walks, unlike many of the other gorge trails that use stairs to navigate the stark changes in elevation.
3. Watkins Glen
Gorge Trail is 1.5 miles one-way, many stairs.
Gorge Trail is .65 miles one way, many stairs.
5. Grimes Glen
Gorge Trail is roughly 1 mile, in-and-out. No stairs, but lots of creek-walking if you plan to visit the waterfalls.
6. Stony Brook
Gorge Trail is .7 miles one way, many stairs. Be advised, though many of my photos show people in the water, wading into the water is not allowed and there could be fines issued for doing so.
Gorge Trail is .5 miles, or 1 mile in-and-out. No stairs, but some climbs, crawls and creek-walking to get to the waterfall.
Gorge Trail is .5 miles, or 1 mile round-trip, many stairs.
Even more gorge trails!
- Niagara River Gorge
- Robert H. Treman’s Enfield Glen
- Havana Glen
- Filmore Glen
- Onanda Park’s Barnes Creek Gully
- Clark Gully
Find more trails to explore!