The Finger Lakes Trail travels across 580 miles of west-central New York from Allegany State Park to the top of Slide Mountain in the Catskills.
Winding around the long lakes that give the region its name, the Finger Lakes Trail travels across 580 miles of upstate New York from Allegany State Park to the top of Slide Mountain in the Catskills. The region’s annual grape harvest attracts many visitors to the area during the fall months, and countless hiking adventures under the colorful bursts of autumnal forest foliage keep them coming back.
Start the journey by downloading one of three passport booklets courtesy of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference to find a variety of short, family-friendly hikes. These include a walk through the Grand Canyon of the East in Letchworth State Park. Take the rim trail beneath the bright orange and yellow trees lining the top of the gorge. The stone walls sweep hundreds of feet down towards the Genesee River, which crashes over three major waterfalls.
For the more experienced hiker, many trails take visitors over adventurous terrain. The Tompkins County Abbott Loop trail covers an 8-mile trek over hilly woods and a valley overlook before circling back to the parking area. (Southern Tier Balloon Tours offers the option of getting an aerial view of the autumn forest.)
At the south end of Seneca Lake, take the Gorge Trail, a 2-mile-round-trip hike in Watkins Glen State Park. The golden-orange hues of falling leaves and the mossy stone walls of the gorge enclose hikers as they climb over 800 stone steps along Glen Creek. Some of the 19 waterfalls dotting the trail trickle over the gorge walls. For those who want to stay overnight, branching trails connect with places to camp.
The return trip takes hikers downhill towards downtown Watkins Glen, where the Queen Catherine Marsh Loop offers spots for bird-watching as flocks migrate for the winter. For more information about the Finger Lakes Trail Conference passports, visit fingerlakestrail.org.
Issue: Fall/Winter 2023