I’ve just returned from upstate New York, the Finger Lakes region. Just beautiful! We visited Cornell University and Watkins Glen along the way to Rochester. It was easily ten degrees cooler then in Baltimore, and that temperature difference made hiking a bit easier. The hike begins at an elevation of 400 feet and goes over one thousand feet within a two mile radius.
My friend and I toughed it out to the top, and as we plodded along a young woman in her twenties jogged past us without having broken a sweat. That was a great reality check.
Watkins Glen State Park was opened to the public in 1863 and was privately run as a tourist resort until 1906, when it was purchased by the state of New York.
The centerpiece of the park is a 400-foot-deep (120 m) narrow gorge cut through rock by a stream – Glen Creek – that was left hanging when glaciers of the Ice age deepened the Seneca valley, increasing the tributary stream gradient to create rapids and waterfalls wherever there were layers of hard rock. The rocks are sedimentary of Devonian age that are part of a dissected plateau that was uplifted with little faulting or distortion. They consist mostly of soft shales, with some layers of harder sandstone and limestone.
The park features three trails – open mid-May to early November – by which one can climb or descend the gorge. The Southern Rim and Indian Trails run along the wooded rim of the gorge, while the Gorge Trail is closest to the stream and runs over, under and along the park’s 19 waterfalls by way of stone bridges and more than 800 stone steps. The trails connect to the Finger Lakes Trail, an 800-mile (1280 km) system of trails throughout New York. This information was taken from Wikipedia, and from Watkins Glen State Park”, visitor’s guide, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, Finger Lakes Region (2012).