In 2015, Letchworth State Park was voted the #1 State Park in the USA–and it’s deserving of this recognition.
Letchworth is a geologic wonder–a land created by receding glaciers and reshaped by the Genesee River. My husband and I annually camp and hike within this amazing landscape. As the park is only 1.5 hours east of Buffalo NY, it’s an easy trek to get there.
This year’s weather was exceptional: 75ºF and sunny in mid-October. In contrast, we were hiking in cool 35ºF temperatures at this same time last year.
There are over 66 miles of trails in this park, and we’ve walked several of them over the years. This time, we chose to walk the Gorge Trail, a 7-mile trail (one-way) that runs along the Genesee River gorge.
We started the hike at the Upper Falls and passed the Middle Falls and the Glen Iris Inn. The Inn is beautiful, inside and out. The food is delicious and the views from the Inn make dining there an experience.
Once we passed the two falls, we crossed paths with no more than ten people on the hike. It was quiet and peaceful.
The trail is an easy-going hike, with gradual changes in elevation and benches placed in strategic locations.
We crossed bridges and admired the stonework still in place from construction by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the 1930s.
And we took the more than 100 stairs down to the bridge that crosses the river. It’s beautiful scenery and well worth the hike down and back up to the trail.
Once we passed Lower Falls, the signage for the Gorge Trail was non-existent. At this point, we chose to pass on going down Trail #5 that would have taken us down a half-mile trail to the banks of the Genesee River. Instead, we passed by the picnic grounds and headed up the road to catch Trail #1 again. It was a great walk–invigorating yet calming.
Here’s what to know before you go:
- There is a $10 vehicle fee to enter the park.
- This is a park without garbage cans. Whatever you pack-in, be prepared to take out.
- Trail #1 runs parallel to the road, so you’ll never be too far away from help if you need it.
- Bring water. There’s limited access to water.
- There are campgrounds in this park. I highly recommend staying in the park and taking a day or two to enjoy Letchworth.
- Dining options are limited within the park. My recommendation for restaurants outside of Letchworth State Park are Questa Lasagna in nearby Mount Morris. The portions are big, so if you’re a light eater, ask for the lunch portion for dinner. During autumn, reservations are highly recommended:
And The Hole in the Wall restaurant in Perry, NY. By far, the pasta broccoli alfredo sauce was the best I’ve ever eaten. The prices were very reasonable, and we felt comfortable walking in wearing jeans, although this is a higher end restaurant.
- Watch your children. There are many areas that aren’t safe for children to be near. After all, this is a gorge, with big dropoffs that aren’t safe. Also, some stairways on the trail have been washed out or are suffering from erosion. And then there are tree roots–an easy way to trip, fall or break an ankle.
- Stay in a cabin. Here’s a photo of our cabin at night.There are several areas within the park to camp. And, once in awhile, you get to see something wonderful, like this little guy: