From the Main Entrance the trail ascends to Mile Point Bridge and up to the Upper Entrance. Shuttle bus service is available for those who prefer to descend one-way. This trail may be joined with Indian Trail or South Rim Trail to make a loop versus retracing your steps back to the trailhead.
This is one of the those trails where a camera is a must. It is one of the most popular trails in New York filled with spellbinding scenery. Many hikers choose to visit the trail on weekdays or overcast and mildly poor weather conditions which cut into the trail's popularity.
The trail begins by Entrance Tunnel which are examples of the where the gorge tunnels were hand cut in the early 1900's. The trail ascends to the first of three natural rock tunnels and opens to Sentry Bridge, a grand stone archway with views of wondrous keyhole falls. The trail proceeds to zigzag across Glen Creek several times. At .1 mile, South Rim Trail intersects from the left. Steps lead to Cavern Cascade where the waterfall has eroded this narrow sandstone section of gorge to the degree that you can tour around behind the falls. Besides the beauty of this area, this adventure behind the falls is especially thrilling to young children. Next along the path is the twisted Spiral Tunnel staircase that opens to a view of a beautiful suspension bridge which is connected to Indian Trail. Continue straight passing under the 85-foot high suspension bridge. An interesting Note: during the 1935 flood, water rose to within 5 feet of the bridge. After another set of steps you'll enter an area known as the Narrows which is a deep, cool, moist environment lush with healthy plant life. Beyond the next stairway, the trail opens to the expansive Cathedral area. A short connector trail entitled, Lover's Lane intersects from the right. It takes you to Indian Trail. Continuing ahead, you'll notice that the Cathedral's environment is completely different from that of the Narrows. This dry arid faction supports a variant plant life. The next sight along this grand trail is Central Cascade which is a 60-foot falls, the park's highest. Shortly, you'll experience Rainbow Falls falling over the gorge's southern lip and permitting passage behind the water. Sunlight falling into the gorge from this point brilliantly explains the fall's name. Spiral Gorge is beyond the bridge and above Rainbow Falls. The entrance through a dark narrow passage is intriguing for young and old alike. Trickling water into nature's barren potholes has a soothing effect on the visitor. Shortly, the trail opens to Mile Point Bridge where you must choose between ascending the footpath to Indian Trail, crossing the bridge to South Rim Trail or continue upstream .5 mile to Jacob's Ladder and the Upper Entrance.
Directions: From Watkins Glen, NY, Park entrance is off the junction of SRs 14 and 414. From the Main Entrance, the trail begins at the rear of the large parking lot.
Elevation Gain: 600 feet
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Watkins Glen State Park, New York
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