March 31, 2020

Finger lakes region, NY, USA

May 2012

God, the Native American legend goes, was quite satisfied with the creation of earth; and tired as well.  Wanted to have a break.  Leaned his hands on the ground and stood up.  Voila.  The place where he kept his fingers had a depression.  Water filled in.  And the Finger lakes region happened.

Geologists have a less exciting story.  When the glaciers slid through the area, they carved eleven parallel, long, deep depressions and filled them with water.  And the Finger lakes region was created.

No matter which story you believe, the Finger lakes region in Upstate New York is one of the beautiful spots on the planet.  Compares with the Alpine area of Switzerland, Milford Sound of New Zealand, and Patagonia of Chile.

We consider ourselves lucky.  Our base in USA in early 2000s was in Rochester, NY.  The finger lakes were just an hour's drive away eastward.  We used to go quite often.  Of the eleven, my favourites were Canandaigua (closest to Rochester; excellent artisan shops on the main road during weekends), Seneca (the largest), and Cayuga (which renders the drive northwards on the soul less I90 from New York to Rochester a pleasure).

Lake Seneca is the big one.  It is 61 km long, 6 km wide, and 188 m deep (more than four times the height of Niagara Falls).  It holds half of all the water in all the eleven lakes.  Holds more than twice the water held by Loch Ness in Scotland.

Lake Seneca

Lake Seneca

Lake Seneca Pier at Southern end

A short drive from the southern end of Lake Seneca takes you to a geological wonder in Upstate New York:  Watkins Glen.

Watkins Glen is a 2 miles long gorge dropping from 400 feet at the Woodlands end to ground level at the Village end.  A creek cuts a narrow gorge through the Glen (with tall cliffs on either side) and flows from top downwards through nineteen waterfalls (including the famous Cavern cascade).

At the entrance at Village end you get a hint of what is ahead: a 200 feet rock face.  A bus takes you to the heights of Woodlands end at the back.

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail.  Descent to Creek from Woodlands end

And you descend through the 2 mile trek along the creek braving through narrow paths, bridges across the creek, and stairs (about 800 steps in all!).  The trek through the gorge is part of the 1,300 km long Finger Lakes Trail that runs through New York State.

Watkins Glen Gorge trail:  Descent from top of Gorge to bottom

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail.  The creek flows through 19 falls from top to bottom

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail:  Along the Creek's journey downwards

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail:  Along the Creek's journey downwards

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail:  An occasional climb up too!

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail:  Daughter surveys the path ahead

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail:  Waterfall intersects trail

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail:  Behind the waterfalls

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail:  Waterfalls from afar

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail:  The trek goes through some tunnels too

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail

Watkins Glen Gorge Trail:  Wife and her sis happy that the trail is coming to an end

The village of Watkins Glen provides welcome refreshments to rejuvenate.  Yes, it is the same village that is renown for its grand prix races on public streets once a year!

Finger lakes region has several interesting towns.  Popular among them are Corning (renown for its glassware), and Ithaca (for its Cornell University).   Did you know that Corning the company and Corning the town were named after an investor in the glass company?  Erastus Corning of Albany, New York!

Corning has a Glass Museum showing visitors how glassware are made and all the good stuff one can make with glass.  One can try one's hand in turning a nice vase with glass oneself.

Corning, south of Watkins Glen, is the glass capital of the world

Corning Glass Museum:  Native boat made of glass

Corning's Rockwell Museum displays several artworks related to the Natives of the region and early settlers:

Corning Rockwell Museum

Corning Rockwell Museum

At the northern end of Lake Seneca are several resorts and wineries.  Wife chooses a cozy spot to enjoy some solitude looking at the serene waters of Lake Seneca.  (Not that serene really.  At this very point in time, a US submarine could be training and testing its sailors under those calm waters or repositioning the nuclear missiles that folks think are stored under the water!)

Geneva by the lake at the northern end of Lake Seneca

Further north west, one reaches the Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion near Canandaigua.

A New York banker loves (yes, they do) his wife.  Buys a 20 hectare property in Finger lakes region with nine gardens of different types and a 40 bed room Queen Anne style mansion.  Touches up a bit.  And they live happily thereafter.  They have no children.  A nephew who inherits this, lives even more happily thereafter.  And on his death gifts it to the State.  The gardens are delightful to look at and the mansion is large yet cozy.

Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion

Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion

Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion

Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion

Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion

The next spot is not actually in Finger lakes region but is just 25 miles away; and is again one of the most beautiful spots in the neighbourhood.

The Letchworth State Park in Upstate New York is often labelled as the Grand Canyon of the East (though in my opinion nothing can ever qualify to be Grand Canyon of any direction!).  Letchworth is a 25 miles long gorge with River Genesee cutting through it (yes, the same river that cuts through our city, Rochester NY) flowing through three main waterfalls and fifty smaller ones.  The Letchworth trek (which is 66 miles long) is part of the Finger Lakes Trail.

Letchworth State Park:  Lookout point

Letchworth State Park:  And quiet flows the Genesee river

Letchworth State Park:  Lower Waterfalls

Letchworth State Park:  Lower Waterfalls (in a different visit, during Fall)

Letchworth State Park:  Middle Waterfalls

Do these all convince you that New York state is ravishingly beautiful and New York, New York (at the bottom corner of the triangular shape of the state) is just an urban version of this beauty.


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