I am amused every time I hear someone say they have never been to Niagara Falls but have spent most of their life in New York state or surrounding area. It is almost like how amused non-indians are when I say I haven’t been to Taj Mahal. I went with my husband recently on this roadtrip to Niagara Falls, and highly recommend this route if you live in New York or New Jersey area. I am in awe with Niagara, the magnificent natural wonder (been there 3 times!) but was pleasantly surprised to find another gem on our way there. The Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth State Park is a must stop if you are driving by finger lakes region. I have been to the real Grand Canyon and it is mesmerizing! So naturally when I heard about this State Park, which has been voted as the Best State Park in United States by USA Today Readers, I wanted to check it out.
Day #1, Friday
We started on a Friday evening after work, from Jersey City, NJ and reached a small college town named Geneseo in the Finger Lakes region and stayed at this cozy little inn called ‘Oak Valley Inn’.
Day #2, Saturday
Letchworth State Park is famous for its 66 miles walking trails with pit stops at beautiful waterfalls and scenic overlooks. We chose the 7.5 miles Gorge trail, the longest trail running parallel to the winding gorge and canyon with stops at all three waterfalls. Though it is considered a mild hiking trail, 15 miles of walking did take our breath away, literally! We parked our car near the Lower Falls and hiked down to see the falls. Lower Falls is beautiful, serene and is surrounded by very interesting eroded rock structures. I am sure when the water levels are high this will be a sight to behold.
The hike from Lower Falls to Middle Falls is the most exciting part of this trail. Walking right by the edge of the eroded gorge overlooking Genesee river with breathtaking views and vista points is an exhilarating experience. Yes, these canyons do resemble Arizona’s marvel but Letchworth is greener with lots of water and hawks, which gives it so much more life compared to Grand Canyon.
The Middle Falls is the widest and the most picturesque falls among the three. It’s an artwork straight out of a postcard! Also, nestled right around the corner is the Glen Iris Inn, a warm and cozy inn overlooking the waterfalls. If I come back, I have to make sure to stay here. There is also a small museum next to the inn that is quite interesting.
Just a few minutes away from Middle Falls is the Upper Falls. It is unlike any other waterfalls I have seen because of a distinct feature, a functional 1875-era steel arch railroad bridge that is built on top of this beautiful falls. The freight train running at less than 10 miles/hour right above a waterfall surrounded by plush greenery makes it worth the watch!
This is one of the best hiking trails I have ever been on. We ended a very productive day with dinner at Questa Lasagna, which served delicious Italian food.
#letchworth #stateparks #fingerlakes #geneseeriver #grandcanyon #roadtrip