A Winter Hike Through Taughannock Falls and Watkins Glen State Park
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  • Where: Taughannock Falls + Watkins Glen State Park hikes
  • Features: Stunning views of frozen waterfalls in narrow and icy gorges.
  • Difficulty Level: Easy – Arduous. Trails can get extremely icy. Take special caution at Watkins Glen because not all the trails are easily accessible and can be frozen over.
  • Get There: 4.5 hour drive from New York City, with a 20 minute drive in-between locations.

There is something truly fascinating about visiting popular destinations off-season, exploring them at a time when others dare not make the journey. Taughannock Falls and Watkins Glen State Park are among the most spectacular New York State parks during the summer, when countless waterfalls flow through gorges towering above. In winter, you’ll have the parks all to yourself – a quiet landscape to see the frosted 215 feet high Taughannock Falls and frozen gorges. Give yourself a solid half day to a full day depending on how many of the trails you’d like to explore. Expect to be mesmerized by the texture of the rocks and the winding pathways that lead you up through the gorge at Watkins Glen. Taughannock Falls are substantially easier to access than the majority of trails at Watkins Glen, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. A bonus? You won’t have to pay any entrance fees because the park offices aren’t open from winter until mid-May.

Taughannock Falls in Ithaca, NY. andnorth.com

  “I hope to be able to experience Watkins Glen in all four seasons. There is such a dynamic change in landscape that it would feel brand new each and every time. There is something really incredible about seeing places commonly visited during the summer, in the winter.” (Zack)

Taughannock Falls in Ithaca, NY. andnorth.com

  “’It’s going to be super icy,’ these were the words of everyone that turned down our invitation to tag along.” (Dane)

Taughannock Falls in Ithaca, NY. andnorth.com

  “One of the many cave-like stairwells throughout Watkins Glen State Park. There are a lot of dark stairwells covered in ice with a ton of great texture.” (Zack)

Taughannock Falls in Ithaca, NY. andnorth.com

  “One of the main reasons for this trip during the dead of winter was to experience this space without anyone else.” (Dane)

Taughannock Falls in Ithaca, NY. andnorth.com

  “I’ve seen many images of Taughannock Falls on the internet, but being in the space is a totally different experience. I remember capturing this image of Zack to show the scale of the area.” (Dane)

Taughannock Falls in Ithaca, NY. andnorth.com

  “This bridge is at the top of the gorge at Watkins Glen. It gives you an incredible view of a large portion of the winding gorge. The giant icicles that line the walls of the gorge give it an incredibly menacing feel.” (Zack)

Taughannock Falls in Ithaca, NY. andnorth.com

  “Easily one of the more precarious moments of the trip. Walking up close to the frozen Taughannock Falls was a quick jaunt up on a sheer mound of ice and snow. One of those moments where you realize that you are directly above a river and you hope the ice stays frozen.” (Zack)

8 comments

  1. Is it possible to enter the trails at watkins Glen? I would love to go but i read reviews saying that it will be closed. 🙁

    1. Yanying – They might be closed for the season until spring. I think it depends upon the season!

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