" There's nineteen different waterfalls, and they vary in height from forty feet to a few feet, and they're all very spectacular."
Of all of NY's beautiful parks, there are none quite like Watkins Glen State Park in Central NY. The centerpiece of the park is it's amazing falls. The deep narrow gorge was formed tens of thousands of years ago by glaciers which carved up much of the state.
Park Manager Cliff Lott says water still has a strong effect on the gorge, continuing to shape the natural wonder we see today. " The Finger Lakes, when the glaciers came down through, on the southern end of most of the lakes, you begin to get hilly country, flat on the northern ends. And when you get the hilly country, that's where the glaciers began to melt and cut down through these rocks creating gorges on most of the southern end of the lakes."
The constant wear of the water has created an amazing landscape that is in constant flux, but it's a change not evident even to the most seasoned observer, like manager Lott.
" Years and years and years of erosion has created what we see today. I've been with the parks a number of years, and just in my lifetime here, there's nothing that I see noticeable different. So that would give you an indication of how long this process occurred, and it's occurring as we sit here and speak now."
While there are a lot of stairs and you'll be doing a lot of hiking here at the park, don't let that put you off. Each step and each turn take you to scenery more beautiful than the last.
Lott explains." The base for all of it up there is shale, the steps are stone steps, we have stone masons on staff that maintain these, there's 832 of them, so it's maintanence heavy, the trail is from the bottom to the top about five hundred feet of elevation change ."
Although the changes by erosion may take eons, other changes are less subtle. Lott says a number of other factors ensure the scenery is a little different upon each visit. " They change from season to season, and day to day. If we get any amount of water or rainfall, the water can be rushing and spectacular in that way. In the summer when there's no rain, you see more of the carving of the stone that you wouldn't normally see. And then of course in the fall with the fall foliage and everything, the view is different."
A hike through Watkins Glen can be an escape,says Lott, a chance to leave it all behind and experience one of NY's true jewels. " Yeah, you're totally away ! The sounds that you hear of water dripping and water rushing, you hear really nothing else. There is something in this area for just about anyone."