If you love the outdoors, you’re going to love these hikes in the Finger Lakes. I found three short hikes that all had incredible views, and I’m pretty sure you’ll want to see them.
The waterfalls alone are enough to get me back to this area, and I know there are many more that I haven’t hiked too yet.
These three hikes are short enough that it will leave you plenty of time for more Finger Lakes adventures, entertainment and, wine.
Three Short Hikes in the Finger Lakes with Incredible Views
HIKE #1: The Waterfalls of Letchworth State Park
Start the day in the far western part of the region at Letchworth State Park. It’s a bit of a drive from Corning, NY, but completely worth it.
When you arrive, you’ll want to park in the upper/middle falls parking lot for easy access to those two falls.
From the parking lot it’s a short stroll to either of the falls. If you’re facing the river the upper fall will be to your right and the middle falls to your left.
Both of them are really cool so don’t pick one over the other. They’re so close to each other there’s no reason not to see both.
The bonus of the upper falls, in my opinion, is the gorgeous bridge that spans the river.
Once you’ve had your fill of the upper and middle falls, return to your car and drive to the lower falls parking lot.
You can walk to the lower falls from the upper/middle falls parking lot, but if you want to save some time make the drive.
The lower falls requires a bit more of a walk but it’s well worth it. Note that there are several steps involved.
As you walk along the trail you’ll come to a point where you have to make a choice to either go towards the falls or to the rock bridge.
I messed up and skipped the rock bridge and then I saw images from that area and realized I messed up. All that to say, don’t skip it.
After you visit the rock bridge continue down the trial to the lower falls.
Depending on the time you’ve arrived and how long you’ve spent in the park consider stopping at Glen Iris Inn, located near the middle falls, for lunch. This is also a great place to spend the night.
As you’re walking around the property just think that this used to be a private residence and what it must have been like to have that amazing view out your front window.
HIKE #2: The Waterfalls of Stony Brook State Park
At Stony Brook State Park follow the signs to the Gorge Trail to see the most waterfalls during your visit. Along the path you’ll see gentle cascades and larger waterfalls.
The Gorge Trail is made up of mostly smooth rock, which can be slick when wet so make sure you’re wearing non-skid shoes.
The walk is gorgeous, and the waterfalls are lovely, but the waterfalls here, are quite different from Letchworth which is why it’s nice to visit both parks.
At the end of the trail, you can choose to turn around and walk back along the river to your car (HIGHLY RECOMMEND) or you can take 300 steps out of the canyon to the West Rim Trail and walk along the top of the canyon.
Note, this is a bit of a strenuous option for those not in great shape (i.e. me). It’s doable, but in addition to the steps to the top of the canyon, you’ll encounter more steps along the trail and then another 246 steps at the end of the trail.
Either trail you choose you wont be disappointed. I loved the challenge of all the steps and tackling hard things, but I wouldn’t have been mad about walking back along the river either.
HIKE #3: Tanglewood Nature Center
Tanglewood Nature Center offers 7 hiking trails over 462 acres that encompass two ponds, meadows, and an abundance of wildlife. If you don’t see any wildlife while on the trail, be sure to pop into the nature center to see some there.
The Mark Twain Trail is dotted along the way with nature-themed quotes from the author.
The trail runs along a bluff overlooking the Chemung River Valley, the same views that inspired the author while penning his greatest classics from his summer home.
It’s the trail I picked to hike to some scenic overlooks, but I looped partially back on a different trail before meeting back up with the Mark Twain trail.
Views along the way are gorgeous and the stillness of the forest is a great way to recharge your soul.
I’m a slow hiker so the trail took me about two hours, but it was more of a leisurely stroll through the woods vs. a steady-paced, quick hike with a purpose.
There are inclines along the trail but nothing too challenging. It wasn’t busy during my visit, so it was almost like having the forest to myself.
Be sure to stop at the nature center to learn more about the area and see a few animals.
Find more information about visiting the Finger Lakes, NY region at Explore Steuben and Discover Chemung
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