Get a taste of nine hot Upstate destinations
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
New York is home to numerous natural wonders. Whether you have lived in the state all your life or are new to the Empire State, make sure you do not miss exploring these sites.
1. Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls
Watching 1.5 million gallons of water drop 173 feet every second is simply awe inspiring. Also check out Adventure Theater, the aquarium, Cave of the Winds, Discovery Center, hiking trails, and the Maid of the Mist boat ride — and stay for the fireworks show over the falls.
2. Letchworth State Park, Castile
The “Grand Canyon of the East” won the USA Today Readers’ Choice Award as the best state park in the United States above 6,000 other state parks in 2015. The park boasts 66 miles of trails and cliffs as high as 600 feet. In addition to hiking, visitors can enjoy the park by whitewater rafting, kayaking and hot air ballooning.
3. Chimney Bluffs State Park, Wolcott
The 597-acre, minimally developed park lies along Lake Ontario’s shoreline and features numerous tall pillars of rock for which it was named. Hike the shoreline trail or the woodland trail up on the bluff.
4. Howe Caverns, Howe’s Cave
Howe Caverns plunges visitors 156 feet below ground level to a world of wonder, including an underground river and numerous rock formations and grottoes to explore.
5. Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen
As yet another state park that placed in the USA Today Readers’ Choice Poll for best state park in the United States (third place), Watkins Glen includes among its hiking trails 19 waterfalls, including one that allows visitors to walk behind it. Numerous water-carved rock formations and gorges make this park stand out.
6. High Falls Gorge, Wilmington
High Falls Gorge encompasses 22 acres, including trails with four waterfalls and a view of the Ausable River. One hike is only 45 minutes long: perfect for those with young children or limited time. The other is a slightly more challenging trail.
7. Ausable Chasm, Keeseville
If you’re up for an adventure in nature, Ausable Chasm delivers with hiking tours, raft rides, tubing, cable bridges, a cargo net climb and edge walks. The otherworldly atmosphere makes Ausable an exceptional park.
8. Chittenango Falls, Cazenovia
The park features a 167-plus foot waterfall, hiking trails and a playground. For families with small children, it provides a nice mix of nature and amenities.
9. Dover Stone Church, Dover Plains
The park’s three miles of nature trails include an above-ground cave, gorgeous natural rock formations and waterfall on 58 wooded acres.
10. Green Lakes State Park, Fayetteville
Nearly 2,000 acres and Round Lake and Green Lake comprise Green Lakes State Park. Many passersby may not realize what makes these bodies of water unusual. They are stunningly clear, meromictic lakes. This means that there is no mixing of upper and lower layers of water as with other lakes. Only 300 lakes worldwide boast this feature that keeps them perfectly clear all the way to the bottom.
Photo: The 597-acre, minimally developed Chimney Bluffs State Park lies along Lake Ontario’s shoreline and features numerous tall pillars of rock for which it was named.