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Author Topic: noelbotevera travels!  (Read 17646 times)

jemacedo9

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Re: Northern PA daytrip
« Reply #25 on: May 21, 2020, 08:07:01 AM »

I'm glad you stopped at Letchworth...but Webny99, the prior bridge was not an arch...the old bridge was a trestle bridge.  The trestle bridge was still there when I last visited in 2016, with the new arch bridge constructed mainly in 2017.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesee_Arch_Bridge

Wow, you are correct. I guess I've been there so many times since 2017 (six times last year, IIRC...) that I had forgotten how much different the old bridge looked. They are similar in height, but not much else. Apologies for the confusion on that.

It's crazy, right?  John Kucko did an amazing job on FB documenting the demolition of the old bridge and the building of the new bridge, via photos and drone footage.  It was completely fascinating. 
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noelbotevera

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2020, 12:09:04 PM »

I've decided to retool this thread as my general purpose road trip thread - and help cut down on the clutter.

On June 7-9, I'm paging Rochester/Syracuse natives for interesting places and good restaurants in the Finger Lakes region (I'll define my boundaries as: east of NY 19, west of NY 34 and Oswego). I'm staying at an apartment owned by my siblings (which they cleaned out and has been empty for over two weeks, so it's safe) in State College, PA. Can't go any further than three hours from State College, but if something worthwhile is outside that range then I can try to convince them to go there.

Ideas I had:

-Watkins Glen State Park
-Stony Brook State Park
-Chimney Bluffs State Park (outside of the 3 hour range - worth it?)
-Seneca Nation/Allegany State Park (west of NY 19 - worth it?)
-"Burned over district" and Seneca Falls (lots of history in the Finger Lakes, particularly religious movements and women's rights)
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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #27 on: June 03, 2020, 12:48:37 PM »

I'm not much help with regards to restaurants, but glad to offer suggestions for things to do.
Watkins Glen, for sure. Stony Brook is cool too, but go with Watkins if you have to pick one.

Ithaca is a cool up and coming college town, with tons of waterfalls: "Ithaca is Gorges", as the saying/pun attempt goes.  :)
Taughannock Falls is probably the best waterfall in the Ithaca area. It's the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies - yes, even taller than Niagara! and there's good viewing points at both the top and bottom. It's an easy drive to the top to see the view, but it's a 3/4 mile walk to the base. It's popular in the summer with families/kids walking right in the stream, but there's a proper path as well if wet feet isn't your thing.

Chimney Bluffs is super cool, almost otherworldly, but it's on a remote stretch of lakeshore that's not very developed. There wasn't even public restrooms in the area until a few years ago. Another important note: the main ridge trail was closed for renovations last year, and I'm not sure if it's reopened yet. My recommendation would be: by all means check it out if you're in the area, but don't go hours out of the way for it. Much of the territory you'd be driving through to get there (Wayne County) is pretty boring.

Allegany State Park is worth a visit. Great scenery, great biking trails, camping, lakes for kayaking and paddleboating; an all around outdoors experience. Geneva-Waterloo-Seneca Falls are interesting from a historical perspective, but not super thriving or fun-filled these days. If you're looking for quaint and charming, Canandaigua and Skaneateles are probably the most quintessential Finger Lakes towns.

The area between Canandaigua and Seneca Lakes is our Amish country... probably one of the more widely known Amish regions outside of Lancaster County PA. You're likely to get a good glimpse of Amish lifestyle and see a few horse and buggies on roads like NY 14A and NY 54, so there's that.
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vdeane

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2020, 01:40:43 PM »

One thing that's worth noting is that if you want to clinch any ASP routes, you'll have to go to Allegany State Park.  I'm not as familiar with it scenery-wise.

Another thing to note is that the famous gorge trail in Watkins Glen is closed due to the pandemic.

Watkins Glen, Stony Brook, and Chimney Bluffs have all been featured on Kucko's Camera and on his Facebook page again and again.  His coverage is a wealth of inspiration, especially in the area you're looking at.
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noelbotevera

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #29 on: June 03, 2020, 02:35:04 PM »

One thing that's worth noting is that if you want to clinch any ASP routes, you'll have to go to Allegany State Park.  I'm not as familiar with it scenery-wise.

Another thing to note is that the famous gorge trail in Watkins Glen is closed due to the pandemic.

Watkins Glen, Stony Brook, and Chimney Bluffs have all been featured on Kucko's Camera and on his Facebook page again and again.  His coverage is a wealth of inspiration, especially in the area you're looking at.
That defeats the point of going to Watkins Glen...sigh.

Would you recommend the Ithaca area as an appropriate substitute? Perhaps a return to Letchworth?
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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #30 on: June 03, 2020, 09:41:13 PM »

The other trails are still open, but yeah, not the signature one.  Taughannock Falls is near Ithaca, as is Buttermilk Falls and Robert H Treman State Park.
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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #31 on: June 03, 2020, 11:25:09 PM »

The other trails are still open, but yeah, not the signature one.

Darn, sorry to hear that. However, I have to say it makes sense. Social distancing would be completely impossible on that trail. It's quite narrow, and can get incredibly crowded in the summer, almost to the point of losing some of its charm.
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noelbotevera

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2020, 12:14:13 AM »

The other trails are still open, but yeah, not the signature one.

Darn, sorry to hear that. However, I have to say it makes sense. Social distancing would be completely impossible on that trail. It's quite narrow, and can get incredibly crowded in the summer, almost to the point of losing some of its charm.
Dumb question, but would it be possible to jog the trail, grab some pictures, and get out without being caught?

In PA, parks remained open with few rangers, so I wonder if I could get away with this.
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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2020, 12:38:39 AM »

The other trails are still open, but yeah, not the signature one.

Darn, sorry to hear that. However, I have to say it makes sense. Social distancing would be completely impossible on that trail. It's quite narrow, and can get incredibly crowded in the summer, almost to the point of losing some of its charm.
Dumb question, but would it be possible to jog the trail, grab some pictures, and get out without being caught?

In PA, parks remained open with few rangers, so I wonder if I could get away with this.
That is a dumb question.  No, it is not possible.
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webny99

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #34 on: June 04, 2020, 09:25:34 AM »

The other trails are still open, but yeah, not the signature one.
Darn, sorry to hear that. However, I have to say it makes sense. Social distancing would be completely impossible on that trail. It's quite narrow, and can get incredibly crowded in the summer, almost to the point of losing some of its charm.
Dumb question, but would it be possible to jog the trail, grab some pictures, and get out without being caught?
In PA, parks remained open with few rangers, so I wonder if I could get away with this.

Without seeing exactly how the closure is posted/enforced, I would not say with 100% certainty that it would be impossible, but it sounds highly unlikely to work and I wouldn't recommend trying it. In addition to concerns about getting caught, the trail is narrow and winding with lots of steps. Definitely not a joggable trail under any circumstances.

There's a lot of 360 degree imagery that people have added that might be interesting for you to browse through, like this, which should help illustrate why it would be risky and infeasible to use the trail while closed.
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noelbotevera

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #35 on: June 04, 2020, 12:51:50 PM »

The other trails are still open, but yeah, not the signature one.
Darn, sorry to hear that. However, I have to say it makes sense. Social distancing would be completely impossible on that trail. It's quite narrow, and can get incredibly crowded in the summer, almost to the point of losing some of its charm.
Dumb question, but would it be possible to jog the trail, grab some pictures, and get out without being caught?
In PA, parks remained open with few rangers, so I wonder if I could get away with this.

Without seeing exactly how the closure is posted/enforced, I would not say with 100% certainty that it would be impossible, but it sounds highly unlikely to work and I wouldn't recommend trying it. In addition to concerns about getting caught, the trail is narrow and winding with lots of steps. Definitely not a joggable trail under any circumstances.

There's a lot of 360 degree imagery that people have added that might be interesting for you to browse through, like this, which should help illustrate why it would be risky and infeasible to use the trail while closed.
Yeah, I won't doubt the words of a local. Is there anything else worth seeing or is it a total wash?
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webny99

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #36 on: June 04, 2020, 04:04:03 PM »

Looks like the other trails are open, but they're nothing like the Gorge Trail... this kind of thing for the most part. Just my opinion, but it's not really worth going to Watkins if you can't do the Gorge Trail. I would recommend the Ithaca area as an alternative. It has cool vibes and tons of hiking and waterfall choices, as mentioned upthread.

Even a place like Fillmore Glen (north of Ithaca, near Moravia) is comparable to Watkins Glen in some ways. Not at the same level, more like a Watkins-lite... but still a great place for a visit that's rarely crowded.
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noelbotevera

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #37 on: June 05, 2020, 03:58:59 PM »

Well, I think I can visualize how this will play out.

June 7:

8 AM - leave home
10 AM - arrive in State College, unpack, rest
2 PM - arrive in Ithaca; Buttermilk & Taughannock Falls, Tremain State Park, Fillmore Glen
(if time, before 6 PM) - Stony Brook State Park, via the Italy Valley
(after 6 PM) - Do more state park stuff. Dinner in Ithaca, unless anyone suggests a local restaurant (do they serve garbage plates in that area?)

June 8:

Allegany State Park
Stony Brook State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park
Delaware Water Gap

Catskills? Harriman? Minnewaska?
Is it even a good idea to go to New York City?

June 9:

Pack up, arrive home in the afternoon from State College
« Last Edit: June 05, 2020, 04:01:09 PM by noelbotevera »
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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #38 on: June 05, 2020, 04:32:06 PM »

While NYC is getting a lot better in terms of COVID-19, there is still a risk for that, but I would be more concerned about the ongoing riots. Besides, some sites such as the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island are still closed.
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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #39 on: June 06, 2020, 10:31:18 PM »

This might be a bit late for your trip, but I heard yesterday after I was on the forum that one third of the gorge trail at Watkins Glen has reopened (the area known as Lover's Lane, accessible from the rim trails near the main entrance).  Also, Stony Brook closed the gorge trail for construction for the next 45-60 days, but the rim trails are open.
https://www.facebook.com/JohnKuckoDigital/photos/a.1746971242240091/2628577210746152/?type=3&__tn__=-R
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noelbotevera

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #40 on: June 10, 2020, 12:40:28 AM »

Write up time!

On June 7th I left for State College at 9, arriving at 11. Ate lunch at a place called Little Szechuan, plus some bubble tea from Momotaro (dessert place/cafe) next door. Ordered crispy pig intestines - Chinese style chitterlings - while my family unpacked at my siblings' college apartment. Left State College at 1:30, taking US 220 -> I-80 -> PA 144 -> PA 879 -> Quehanna Highway -> Wykoff Run Road -> PA 872 -> PA 44 -> NY 417 -> NY 17 (with help from NY 16) to Allegany State Park. Side note: Allegheny River but Allegany State Park?

Coudersport and PA 44 was interesting, considering it was the home of Elliott Ness - the guy who caught Al Capone. I'm surprised he hailed from the middle of nowhere. Road wise, PA 44 north of US 6 isn't as interesting as south of it. I did it for clinching, only needing to complete the southern 28 miles (I-80 to US 15). It's still a twisty ride to NY 417, but nowhere near as desolate and with gentler curves. Curious is the choice of Olean as a destination - why not Salamanca?

NY 417 still has reference markers referring it to NY 17 for some reason. Made more confusing, as NY 17 is referenced as both NY 17 and I-86 (or 86I). I also don't know what the second and third lines mean - county mileage and then boundary crossings (between city/town, village) is my guess. Also, NY 417 is a real slog through Portville to Olean, with a constant 35 MPH speed limit because of a few houses that are parts of "towns". No, I don't why New York towns are so large in land area.

Allegany State Park was a curious one, considering it has a system of park roads. I'm not sure if they're legitimate routes - I didn't notice any reference markers nor references to it on NY 17. Road wise it's twisty but any scenery is foiled by dense foliage. There's also no mileposts on the roads, so they feel longer than they actually are. Scenery wise, Allegany has incredibly clear lakes and rock formations. Quaker Lake in particular - our arrival at 7:30 meant it made for an incredible sunset. Falls flat in falls terms, as Bridal Falls - no relation to Niagara's - isn't really a falls and more like a trickling of water over a short cliff. Notable was the park's attempt to build a zoo and ski resort - skiing I can understand, but a zoo in the middle of nowhere?

It was getting late, and by this time everything in Salamanca was closed. We headed south on US 219, which was horrendous, pointing out the "bear warning" signs. Deer - sure, but bears?

Dined in for pizza and subs in Bradford. Had a tense ride down US 219 -> PA 153 -> I-80 -> US 322 -> US 220 and back to State College.

Awoke the next morning at 9 AM, and left for Ithaca at 10:30. Used US 15 -> NY 17 (stopped in Corning) -> NY 13. Arrived there at 1:30, surprising considering that NY 13 is a slog - not helped by copious roundabouts. After an aborted attempt at BBQ for lunch, we decided on a ramen shop (Maru Ramen) in downtown Ithaca. Lunch ran on until 3:00 (my family takes a long while to use the restroom), which is when we arrived at Buttermilk Falls State Park.

Not a very accurate name; it's more of a glen than anything else. Not in a very conspicuous location, your only hint of its existence being its entrance road from NY 13. Was surprised at having to pay for parking, since our fees at Letchworth and Allegany were waived. Eight dollars for the privilege.

Started to regret that price for the steep hike on the Rim Trail, considering your greeting is the falls itself. I guess they don't mention the hike up there. Paid off for the Gorge Trail, with waterfalls all the way down. Took the opportunity to wade in Buttermilk Creek, with my brother jumping into a watering hole from the path. Definitely worth the price of admission. Had a spell of bad luck when I tried to avoid a puddle, instead slipping on conspicuously dry rock and hurting my hip (nothing broken at least).

Left Buttermilk at 5 for the main attraction, cutting our losses to visit Treman and Fillmore Glen (for another time, I suppose). Drove to Taughannock Falls, previewing it by using the overlook then entering the park (using the beach's parking lot, the falls' own lot was full). Entrance fee was waived, oddly enough.

What surprised me was the fact that Taughannock Creek was mostly dry, before figuring out that it was once a riverbed. 400 feet above us on high rock walls must've been ground level millennia ago, since weathered down to form the falls and the creek's path into Cayuga Lake. The falls trail could also be theoretically hiked by going against the creek (it's very shallow), if you don't mind wet feet.

On the way there, I noticed several small rockfalls - only a few pebbles at a time. I feel that the whole park could cave in overnight.

And the falls - I took the opportunity to observe the layers upon layers of rock, and the impressive drop. Although the spray is weaker than Niagara Falls, it allows you to get much closer to appreciate the height. Although I missed out on Montmorency Falls - hey, I got to see Old Quebec City instead - this could be an appropriate substitute.

Left Ithaca at 7:30 - had dinner in Corning to meet up with a friend. Noted Watkins Glen State Park (right in the center of town). Went back to State College, spent most of the next day relaxing at the apartment, and arrived home home at 9 PM on June 9th. A fun roadtrip in these trying times.
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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #41 on: June 10, 2020, 08:07:55 AM »

Side note: Allegheny River but Allegany State Park?

Yup. Allegheny is the PA spelling (same as the county that contains Pittsburgh), Allegany is the NY spelling.


We headed south on US 219, which was horrendous, pointing out the "bear warning" signs. Deer - sure, but bears?

Horrendous no doubt referring to the pavement quality, which is pretty bad as I recall. :paranoid:
There's definitely bears in the Allegany Park itself, as well as the surrounding wilderness. Considering US 219 runs along the eastern park boundary, that's probably why they have those signs posted.


What surprised me was the fact that Taughannock Creek was mostly dry, before figuring out that it was once a riverbed. 400 feet above us on high rock walls must've been ground level millennia ago, since weathered down to form the falls and the creek's path into Cayuga Lake. The falls trail could also be theoretically hiked by going against the creek (it's very shallow), if you don't mind wet feet.
...
And the falls - I took the opportunity to observe the layers upon layers of rock, and the impressive drop. Although the spray is weaker than Niagara Falls, it allows you to get much closer to appreciate the height.

Yeah, walking in the water is OK at Taughannock, unlike Stony Brook and Fillmore Glen where it's prohibited, sometimes even enforced by park rangers. That's partly what makes Taughannock more popular with families, plus the fact that it's quite flat with no major elevation changes. The water flow also seems to vary significantly. I've seen the falls look like hardly a trickle sometimes, while other times they're quite rushing and powerful. Spring is the time to go if you want to ensure the falls are more than this... which would be pretty disappointing IMO for a first-time visitor. This is more like it!


Left Ithaca at 7:30 - had dinner in Corning to meet up with a friend. Noted Watkins Glen State Park (right in the center of town). Went back to State College, spent most of the next day relaxing at the apartment, and arrived home home at 9 PM on June 9th. A fun roadtrip in these trying times.

Sounds fun - glad you enjoyed! Hopefully you can make it back to do Watkins Glen sometime.
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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #42 on: June 10, 2020, 08:13:51 AM »

I thought the pavement quality on US-219 between I-86 and the state line was particularly atrocious when we passed that way last June on our way back from Toronto.
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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #43 on: June 10, 2020, 02:27:36 PM »

I thought the pavement quality on US-219 between I-86 and the state line was particularly atrocious when we passed that way last June on our way back from Toronto.
Still is. Pavement quality improves when you enter PA which is almost never the case.

Also learned the truth between the Alleghenies. Allegheny is French (translated from Lenape), Allegany is English (the Seneca use this), and Alleghany is what John Norton (Mohawk chief) used to refer to the same mountain chain. In other words, blame differing tribal languages and translations for creating three Alleghenies.
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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #44 on: June 14, 2020, 04:36:29 PM »

I've somehow turned this pandemic into the year of roadtrips, so...

Next month is my third Western New York excursion - webny99, paging you - sometime around early July (July 5-7 or July 6-8, when my dad is off for three consecutive days). Proposed plans are:

-Watkins Glen attempt 2; I feel like it might reopen by then. Finally have a natural waterfall shower (not sure if bathing in the glen is prohibited). If Watkins Glen is closed, I'll visit Treman or Fillmore Glen in the Ithaca area. (For that matter, Ithaca is essentially a smaller version of State College; although more scenic it's just another college town to me. It even has a Wegmans, but no Trader Joe's - that's a point for State College!) Buy some Finger Lakes wine, since that seems to be the local specialty.

-Spend the next day in Rochester; Hamlin Beach, Letchworth Round 2, Chimney Bluffs. Eat a garbage plate.

-Or, detour to Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Explore Cave of the Winds, Goat Island, Fort Niagara.

-Go to the Catskills (from State College), namely Minnewaska or the Bear Mountain area - clinch NY 218 while I'm at it, for example.

-Spend the next day in New York City, taking a scenic route (Bear Mountain Bridge, US 202, Taconic?).

-Finish off the worthwhile state parks in PA, such as Delaware Water Gap or Ricketts Glen.

This should cross off my list for the worthwhile stuff in western NY, or alternatively explore upstate NY which I've breezed by on the Taconic and I-84. Adirondacks are probably impossible given my range (no more than four hours from State College), but maybe I could do some persuasion to make the trip worth it. Unfortunately it seems that NY has resumed park entry fees, which is a shame since I pay double for being out-of-state.
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webny99

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #45 on: June 14, 2020, 05:09:03 PM »

Sounds like you could probably fit in at least two of your first three options if you've got a full three days. Hamlin and Chimney Bluffs are opposite directions from Rochester, but both very doable as day trips. Hamlin is a nice beach by Great Lakes standards, with lots of open space, but not particularly stunning scenery-wise, and not tons of other stuff to do in the area.

If you've got a choice between Treman and Fillmore Glen: The hike at Treman is a good 2 miles, and the best scenery is near the far (upper) end, so it would be 4 miles round trip from the bottom. So if you're not in great hiking shape and limited to one car, that's something to consider - I might lean towards Fillmore in that case. Fillmore does have a large set of stairs at the beginning, but is pretty manageable once you get past that.

Oh, and I should note, bathing in the glen is prohibited at Watkins - the glen is much too narrow, winding, and dangerous, with many drop-offs - although there is the famous waterfall that tumbles right over top the trail. Stony Brook is probably actually your best option for a natural waterfall shower. People do it at Treman, too, but there are signs prohibiting it and you have to meander off the trail to get to that part of the creek bed.

Ricketts Glen is on my bucket list too. I've been many years ago, but hardly remember it.
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vdeane

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #46 on: June 14, 2020, 09:06:50 PM »

My understanding is that more of the Watkins Glen gorge trail has reopened.  Not all of it, but enough that it's accessible from the main entrance now, and at least one of the signature views is open again.

With respect to Bear Mountain, keep in mind the park closes as soon as they reach the capacity where social distancing is possible - and this can happen as early as 10 AM some days.
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noelbotevera

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #47 on: June 14, 2020, 09:42:08 PM »

My understanding is that more of the Watkins Glen gorge trail has reopened.  Not all of it, but enough that it's accessible from the main entrance now, and at least one of the signature views is open again.

With respect to Bear Mountain, keep in mind the park closes as soon as they reach the capacity where social distancing is possible - and this can happen as early as 10 AM some days.
Do any other parks in that area follow capacity rules? I might consider the area a wash considering the idea that I have to wake up as early as 5 AM.

Sounds like you could probably fit in at least two of your first three options if you've got a full three days. Hamlin and Chimney Bluffs are opposite directions from Rochester, but both very doable as day trips. Hamlin is a nice beach by Great Lakes standards, with lots of open space, but not particularly stunning scenery-wise, and not tons of other stuff to do in the area.

If you've got a choice between Treman and Fillmore Glen: The hike at Treman is a good 2 miles, and the best scenery is near the far (upper) end, so it would be 4 miles round trip from the bottom. So if you're not in great hiking shape and limited to one car, that's something to consider - I might lean towards Fillmore in that case. Fillmore does have a large set of stairs at the beginning, but is pretty manageable once you get past that.

Oh, and I should note, bathing in the glen is prohibited at Watkins - the glen is much too narrow, winding, and dangerous, with many drop-offs - although there is the famous waterfall that tumbles right over top the trail. Stony Brook is probably actually your best option for a natural waterfall shower. People do it at Treman, too, but there are signs prohibiting it and you have to meander off the trail to get to that part of the creek bed.

Ricketts Glen is on my bucket list too. I've been many years ago, but hardly remember it.
You mentioned earlier that Chimney Bluffs is on an undeveloped lakeshore - is it possible to reach the bottom of the bluffs safely? If not, is it worth it to backtrack ~15 minutes to Sodus Point for beach time? Hamlin Beach (based on Google Maps) does look like it's in the middle of nowhere, so I suppose Chimney Bluffs is the better choice.

As for Treman - there's parking at the upper end. Is it worth it to hike half the trail and turn around, capturing the best sights? It looks like Treman prides itself on its waterfalls, and if it's too much of a hassle - then I'll stick to Fillmore Glen. Considering more of Watkins has reopened, this probably won't pan out.
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Doing things that nobody wants to do since 2004.
I was THE youngest forum member from May 14th, 2015 to September 25th, 2016.

I am the second Alex, since I currently use my father's name...

vdeane

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #48 on: June 14, 2020, 09:59:31 PM »

I think they all technically have capacity rules, it's just much more of an issue downstate due to the large population in close range.  Also, a lot of those stories were from spring towards the end of the lockdown when people were desperate to get out of the house, so things may have improved a bit (though I'd still be cautious).
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MisterSG1

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #49 on: June 14, 2020, 10:13:18 PM »

Seeing the incredibly cavalier attitude of noel, I honestly think the Canadian federal government should keep our border completely shut forever.

Obviously you don’t want to follow the rules.
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