From Buffalo the van and I traveled east toward the Finger Lakes, but along the way made a stop along the way to visit the cemetery where Susan B. Anthony and Frederic Douglass are buried and some related sights in Rochester, then continued on to spend an afternoon in the beautiful (and super crowded on a gorgeous fall weekend) Letchworth State Park.
I hiked a few paths alongside the gorge rim, onto a few small outcroppings and islands, and through the woods. The turning leaves were beautiful and the perfect backdrop to the rushing Genesee River and cascading falls. I didn’t do full justice to this massive park because, between Covid number restrictions and the popularity of the park, parking areas were filled to capacity at many locations and several trails were closed to any new traffic by the time I arrived. I felt like I got a good variety, though, and recommend highly for weekday adventures or early risers.
Further west I arrived on the southern edge of the Finger Lakes, passing the skillet used to make the world’s largest pancake and remnant of the buckwheat festival apparently. At the base of Seneca Lake I camped overnight in the Finger Lakes National Forest, then was one of the first into Watkins Glen State Park. Watkins Glen’s narrow stone paths follow an impressive gorge and stream with a series of waterfalls. Walking the one-way path felt like I was exploring a hidden fairy land or something, and despite it having been fairly dry the rushing water was amazing and inspiring. I’m told this is even more special after a big rain in springtime, but I was happy with to be surrounded by the ledges, glowing autumn colors, and relatively few people on a Sunday morning.
After a yummy egg taco brunch in the leafy picnic area, it was off to the next stop of Ithaca south of Cayuga Lake. I started off by following the Carl Sagan Planet Walk through downtown and winding along a canal, through quaint neighborhoods, and ending at the science center. Each stop was distanced to scale from it’s neighbor, so while my first few planets were on the same block, they became further spaced as it continued, and gave a nice little tour while listening to the Bill Nye narrated audio guide about the solar system.
Up a hill I walked to see Ithaca Falls, across a footbridge, wander through the Cornell Campus, and then back into town via the Cascadilla Gorge trail. As others have said (and I was disappointed not to find on a sticker for my cooler), Ithaca is Gorges. Ha. Ha.
Leaving the Finger Lakes after an early dinner, it was off to Albany for the night where I spotted the Schuyler Mansion alluded to in Hamilton, and the tiny schoolhouse once led by the teacher upon whom Ichabod Crane was based. A busy, waterfall and gorge-filled few days! Next stop: the Constitution State.