Close this search box.

New Year’s Day Hike: Watkins Glen in Winter

Sunday 01/01/2023 10:00 am

Hike rating:

Distance – 7 miles; Terrain – Strenuous; Pace – Moderate; Overall rating – Strenuous

Event/Trailhead location:

Watkins Glen State Park parking area (click for map).

Hike Leader:
Gary Mallow


Hike leader contact information will be sent in the email acknowledging that you have registered for this hike. 

Hike Details:



What better way to to celebrate the new year than a brisk winter hike at Watkins Glen? Because the park trails are closed in winter, few 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. Over millenia, the creek has carved out a dramatically steep gorge with many waterfalls and cataracts. Hucksters once marketed Watkins Glen as the 8th Wonder of the World. Hyperbole, perhaps, but the Glen is certainly worth the trip.

Brave the weather and you’ll be treated to some wintertime visual delights. Dramatic sandstone and shale formations visible in the creek resulted from the deposits of an eon ago, and then subsequent erosion. We are likely to be treated to natural ice sculptures on the walls of the gorge resulting from freeze and thaw cycles. A large train trestle spans the gorge and a couple of dams that were constructed to protect the village from spring flooding are evidence of man’s influence.

This hike is out-and-back and has steep uphill/downhill pitches. It might include slippery footing.

Driving time is 45 minutes from Ithaca to the park, and another 45 minutes back to Ithaca.

Conditions on the trail are likely to include snow, ice, and slippery footing. Microspikes and a trekking pole recommended. Bring water and lunch, and dress for cold weather in layers that you can easily slip off as you heat up.

If you will have trouble navigating to the trailhead, email the hike leader at the address above.

Check this site the morning of the hike for any changes or a cancellation.

Registration is closed!