Watkins Glen Falls – Taking It All In.

Watkins glen falls are one of the most attractive and picturesque waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Watkins Glen is home to the well-known NASCAR race track and offers plenty of outdoor activities in the Finger Lakes region. Along with several mountain biking, kayaking, sailing, and horseback riding opportunities, Watkins Glen State Park also offers breathtaking views of its 19 waterfalls and stunning cliffs.

Watkins Glen has been ranked number three in USA Today’s Best Small Town for Adventures, preceded by Florence, Ore, and Marquette, Mich.

The Glen creek tumbles through a narrow canyon for over a mile, with the sheer cliffs reaching as much as 200 feet high. Numerous waterfalls can be enjoyed by creatively constructed artificial paths and steps, with several walkways and terraces on the side of the gorge.

Geological Features of Watkins Glen Falls

The most striking feature of Watkins Glen State Park is the etched designs on the surrounding rocks of the waterfalls. This unique structure was created by cross-bedding, a natural phenomenon of multiple avalanching layers parallel to each other.

Another unique characteristic of the waterfalls is the rock shelter behind them, especially Cavern Cascade. This shallow cave is formed by an overhanging cliff and proved to be a shelter for Stone Age people.

The unique formation of large and small waterfalls in Watkins Glen Gorge was made possible due to joints in the exposed bedrock. For over 12,000 years, Glen Creek has been trying to carve its way down these siltstones, where hundreds of joints were exploited throughout the bedrock layers. This phenomenon gave rise to a spectacular gorge marked by plunge pools, waterfalls, and other beautiful features.

The manufactured stone steps and bridges among this beautiful landscape only added to its beauty. They made it much more feasible for tourists to visit these waterfalls and experience their scenic environment closely.

The erosional power of this water, combined with the moist conditions, has made a suitable habitat for different plants and animals spotted throughout the gorge. Rich moss growth can be seen along the Narrows, a shady, cool, and moist area along the Gorge trail which is suitable for its nourishment.

While hiking around the waterfalls, you can see a green frog, a wood frog, a spotted salamander, or an American toad.

Among the plant species, you can spot purple-flowered raspberry, snakewort, maidenhair spleenwort, herb robert, etc.

Waterfalls in Watkins Glen

While visiting Watkins Glen State Park, tourists see the beautiful waterfalls stretching for two miles. It is by far the most beautiful place in Watkins Glen to have a splendid time hiking beautiful trails and learning more about the nature around you with family or friends.

1.     Cavern Cascade

As one makes its way up the Watkins Glen, Cavern Cascade is the most spectacular waterfall they encounter. Cavern Cascade looks the most unique and beautiful because Glen Creek cascades down a 52 feet height out of a narrow lip of an overhanging bedrock. This stunning drop of the waterfall is made possible by an overhanging cliff, which also gave rise to a rock shelter behind it.

People enjoy Cavern Cascade the most because the gorge trail passes behind the plunging creek, giving visitors a chance to reach out and touch the water.

2.     Central Cascade

Central Cascade is another major waterfall as Glen Creek cascades from a 1-2 foot wide opening, down a 41 feet drop, with the Folly Bridge framing directly above the falls.

3.     Rainbow Falls

Rainbow falls are the most beautiful waterfalls Watkins Glen has to offer. The stunning and breathtaking convergence of waterfalls makes it the most attractive section of the whole trail.

4.     Pluto Falls

Pluto falls are the second last significant waterfalls along Glen Creek. They are located in a section of the Spiral Gorge, where Glen Creek narrows down between potholes and small falls.

5.     Whispering Falls and Diamond falls

These waterfalls are near the suspension bridge looming high above the gorge.

6.     Sylvan Rapids and Glen Cathedral

Sylvan Rapids and Glen Cathedral waterfalls are near the Lover’s Lane trail.

A Visit to Watkins Glen State Park

If you want to get an idea of an experience with Watkins Glen, imagine nineteen waterfalls plunging through a natural gorge complimented with manmade stone stairs and bridges. That is how beautiful Glen Creek Gorge is. It’s a trail that takes you to rainbow falls through Watkins Glen State park. The gorge trails extend 1.5 miles and offer breathtaking views, perfect for a day dedicated to hiking and waterfall photography.

Sentry Bridge

The sentry bridge dates back to the 1930s and was built for pedestrians to access other park attractions. Sentry bridge is itself a scenic view to behold. It is an excellent merger of artificial bridges and natural landscape attractions.

Spiral Staircase

The spiral staircase twists 270 degrees around itself and takes you to the gorge above Cavern Cascade.

The Narrows

The Narrows is a shady and cool trail hidden from the sunshine, and the moist environment allows a rich moss growth.


A visit to Watkins Glen will be a memorable experience as you visit its 19 waterfalls and beautiful state parks. The stone steps and feasible bridges make it possible to view the natural waterfalls and surrounding landscape up close in all its glory, arresting the attention of anyone who visits this beautiful attraction of Watkins Glen.

If you are visiting Watkins Glen State Park, prepare for a wild ride walking through tunnels, over bridges, watching mesmerizing waterfalls, and a hike that will give you the time of your life.

The McClain Family

We hope we helped. Please let us know of any place that you want to know about in NYS or if we did a poor job with any part of this. Our goal is to help as many people as possible.

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