We all have those days where a short hike to clear your mind or to just get ouside is necessary. The time to climb mountains isn’t available, but the itch to hike somewhere is prominent. These are my personal favorite hikes in the Finger Lakes and also popular to those visiting the region.
1. Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen, NY
This two-mile trail descends 400 feet with 200-foot cliffs creating 19 amazing waterfalls along the trail. The pathway winds around the waterfalls with an additional trail above the gorge creating an amazing view. While the trail is set out, there are numerous stairs to get from place to place if walking the trail is not for you. This is a NYS park, so camping or picnicking for the day is definitely available. My favorite food choice in the area is going back down into Watkins and getting some amazing pizza at Jerlando’s.
Taughannock Falls is located between Ithaca and Trumansburg where hiking and scenery come naturally. There are two different trails you can take to the falls; the Rim Trail, which is atop the waterfall and gives you overlooking views of the gorge, and the main Gorge Trail on lower ground. The Rim Trail is seasonal and is closed during the wintertime due to the dangerous nature of the rim. However, the Gorge Trail is a nice ¾ mile trail near the base of the waterfalls and open all year round. The trail is flat and mapped out, which is great for family time or a quick hike through new territory. Because of the flat surface, many still hike and snowshoe during the winter.
Letchworth State Park consists of 28 different trails throughout the park. These range from a half-mile to 21 miles with different difficulty levels. With 14,350 acres, the state park gives visitors great views of the Genesee River, 600-foot cliffs, three major waterfalls and much more. All trails are mapped out on the PDF map on the website.
4. Green Lakes
The beautiful park has two lakes: Green Lake and Round Lake, which are surrounded by hiking trails, a beach, and wildlife. The park has a total of 10 miles worth of trails on the property with the most popular being the 2.4-mile trail around the lakes. Several people run and bring their pets here for a nice leisure walk especially in the spring and fall weather.
5. Grimes Glen
Grimes Glen is located at the end of Vine Street off of Main St. in the heart of Naples, NY. There is a sign for Grimes Glen at the corner of the street and a parking lot at the end of the road where the trail begins. Unfortunately this trail is on the edge of the creek and with certain seasons, the water is flowing. At some point on the trail you’ll have to jump rock to rock or walk up the creek bed to the waterfalls. Two waterfalls are visible and a third is above with access to it with extremely dangerous climbing. I don’t recommend climbing to the third unless you’re a skilled climber.
6. Hi Tor
Hi Tor is known for its popular trail located by its blue markings. To get to this 4.6-mile trail you can either park off of Parish Hill Road near the DEC entrance or at the bottom of Conklin Gully in the parking area off of NY State Rt. 245. Either way you’ll see the gully and work your way up to a 600-foot elevation.
7. Mendon Ponds
The Mendon Ponds park office is located at 95 Douglas Road, Honeoye Falls, NY 14472. Mendon Ponds Park is 2,500 acres of woodlands, ponds, wetlands and glacially created landforms. Many people rent out the pavilions for parties, but among the trees are numerous hiking trails and a few ponds scattered within. You could honestly go several times and be able to hike a different trail every time. My favorite parts of the hiking trails are the wetlands. At certain points in the trails, you are right at the waterline looking out at the ponds. I’m quite positive that these pieces of the trails are flooded out during certain seasons or if we get a lot of rain, but to be that close to the water is amazing.
Dresden to Penn Yan, NY
In the heart of the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of New York State, between the villages of Penn Yan on Keuka Lake and Dresden on Seneca Lake, lies the Keuka Outlet Trail. The trail actually follows the old Fall Brook Railroad, which also is the path of the historic Crooked Lake Canal that used to connect Keuka and Senca Lake. Currently, the trail is seven miles long with gradual inclines along the way. This path is great for a leisure walk or a long distance trek.
Buttermilk Falls State Park is named after the foaming cascade created by Buttermilk Creek that flows down the park to Cayuga Lake. This park has a few hiking trails through the woods and around the creek bed. It also holds accommodations for camping, picnicking, sporting events, and swimming.
New Hope, NY
Carpenter Falls in within a group of four waterfalls in this area near Bear Swamp Creek. Carpenter Falls drops 90 feet and Angel Falls drops 62 feet. The two other falls are around 11-30 feet, and are not directly accessible from the trails. The trails can be very dangerous due to the ravine, so please be careful when hiking. There are small hiking trails for short hikes or a general loop with the street to get a longer hike in at about 2.3 miles.