Watkins Glen in Winter

Sunday, December 31, 2017  •  9:00 am - 2:00 pm
  • Hike rating: Distance: About 3.5 miles; Pace: Moderate; Terrain: Moderate
  • Carpool meeting place: 9:00 a.m. - EMS Parking Lot at 722 S Meadow St. (click for map). Please park in front of the store but at the end of the lot furthest away from the store.
  • Event/Trailhead location: 9:45 a.m. - Watkins Glen State Park, Lower Parking Lot on 1009 North Franklin Street (click for map)
  • Contact: Gary Mallow   garymallow2004@yahoo.com   607-339-5131

What better way to look back on 2017 and contemplate the new year than a brisk winter hike?

Hucksters once marketed the Glen the 8th wonder of the world. Perhaps a bit of hyperbole, but the Glen is certainly offers geologic and natural features not to be missed.

Over millenia, Glen Creek has carved out a dramatically steep gorge with a number of waterfalls and cataracts. Because the park trails are closed in winter, few tourists and hikers ever see the gorge this time of year, but the FLT remains open all year, and it runs right along the south rim of the gorge. For much of the way, Glen Creek runs 90 feet below you.

If you are willing to brave the weather, you'll will be treated to some wintertime visual delights. The limestone and shale formations that have resulted from the erosion of fast-moving water defy description, and this time of year we are likely to be treated to Mother Nature's ice sculptures. There is a monster train trestle spanning the gorge and a couple of dams that were constructed to protect the village from spring flooding. If we're lucky, we may see a a red-tailed hawk, carrying its lunch (read chipmunk or squirrel) as it glides down the gorge.

Conditions on the trail are likely to include snow and ice, and that means slippery footing. If we get heavy snow prior to the hike, consider snowshoes. However, in years past, waterproof, insulated boots appropriate for snowy, icy trail conditions have been the best call. Bringing stabilicers or mini-crampons to improve your footing is a good idea... you can always remove them if they aren't effective. Bring water, a snack, and dress in layers for cold weather.

You are invited to join the hike leader for lunch following our hike at the Crooked Rooster on Franklin Street in Watkins Glen for sandwiches and locally brewed beer. 

Please note we will meet at EMS in Ithaca to carpool. The trip to Watkins is 45 minutes in each direction. Once we arrive, we will park cars at the park entrance and shuttle hikers to a park service road several miles uphill. We will then hike back down to the park entrance.

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