The Finger Lakes Region-New York

the city of Watkins Glen at the south end of Seneca Lake

Following our somewhat adventurous drive to Sunset in Seneca RV Park, we proceeded to set up the rig well enough to live in for a week. Sunset on Seneca RV Park was a mainly seasonal park with a few open spaces for travelers passing through. The staff was very friendly and helpful, the sites were decent-sized with fire pits and a picnic table, and an onsite laundry was available which is always a plus for us. We did not get any TV reception at all. This was the first time since we started Fulltime RVing that this had happened. It was good and bad. I did not miss the hearing about school/racial shootings, politics, or the breakup of Brad and Angelina. I did miss my evening relax shows, but we made do with DVDs.

The park was mainly empty during the week, but many seasonal campers arrived on Friday to enjoy the weekend. There was live music one evening, and it seems like something they do often. We did not join in the festivities that night though. Most times when we are traveling vs stationary, we are also exploring the area, and have a pretty full agenda on any given day.

Sunset on Seneca RV park

park greeter

The Finger Lakes are a group of eleven lakes, (named so due to early map makers thinking they resembled fingers)  in Central New York State. We stayed on Seneca Lake, the deepest of the lakes with a depth of 618 ft. It is the second longest at 36 miles. Neighboring Cayuga Lake is the longest at 38 miles, and nearly as deep.

The area is obviously known as a lake recreation and tourist area, but the other claim to fame it holds is it’s 300+ wineries. New York wine country specializes in Reisling grapes, although many types of wine are available and quite good in their own right, the Reisling is thought to be the best. Breweries and brew pubs, much like everywhere lately, are starting to pop up all over, and many savvy wineries have added house breweries as well. We found the food in the area mainly average, but decent portions and ok-priced. Lots of gourmet type pizza and sandwiches. We don’t eat out too much, mainly appetizers and that sort of thing. I am a pretty fair cook and most of the time can create tastier and, for sure, healthier meals at home. This approach saves us both money and calories. Those craft beers ain’t cheap or low cal. Gotta save calories and dollars somehow!

city of Geneva at the north end of Seneca Lake


a true sunset on Seneca

Most days I used my culinary skills to whip up a P,B, and J sandwich or two, some baby carrots, apples, and trail mix for lunch, then shortly after breakfast we got moving to check out the area. By checking with the locals we are able to find the really worthwhile things to see and do in any area. Wendy, the gal who checked us in when we arrived, and has lived in the area all of her life, was a wealth of info on wineries, distilleries, and sights to see.

One of those places she mentioned was located in Watkins Glen (also known as a big auto racing town) at Watkins Glen State Park. Most of the state parks in the area are free of charge after Labor Day.  This particular park is a huge tourist attraction, so there is a charge for parking. Wendy lived nearby and said we could park at her house and walk in. Bonus!

the entrance to the gorge trail

me and the mr.

one of many falls in the gorge

The trail was amazing. And crowded, at least for most trails I have been on. There were literally busloads of tourists being dropped off. The trail is a mile out and a mile back. We took the gorge trail out, and another trail back. The hike is listed as moderate, although I found it to be on the easier side. Perhaps it is rated this because it is somewhat damp, rocky and a bit slippery in spots if wearing the wrong shoes which it appeared many were. And there was an uphill aspect, but not an overly challenging one.

There are several gorge trails in the area. One day we drove to Ithaca on nearby Cayuga Lake to the Robert H Treman State Park to check out the  gorge trail. This trail was much less crowded and also listed as moderate, and this one was truly moderate. Also a bit longer at 4 miles and some change. This trail was more to my liking, Bruce thought the opposite, but we greatly enjoyed both.

some nice uphill climbs at this park

more waterfalls

the wall

great view

There is also the Finger Lakes National Forest which has some good trails. Never one to miss an opportunity to hop on one of the big national trails we opted for a trail that would have us on the Appalachian Trail (spanning Maine to Georgia, about 2,200 miles long) for a short while. It was an moderate, but on the easier side, type trail with more great views.

perfect day for a hike

Appalachian Trail in NY

Seneca State Park is located at the north end of the lake near the city of Geneva. There is a nice paved walkway around the north tip of the lake. It made for a nice walk on a cloudy day, and lead directly into Geneva where we stopped for lunch at a great little Irish Pub, but oops, I can’t recall the name.

big, big trees

now thats’s an easy trail

cloudy day on the lake

Hiking is not the only outdoorsy fun thing to around the area though. There are all those wonderful lakes! One beautiful sunny morning we decided to rent kayaks. The RV park rented them to guests and others, and gave us a nice discount for staying there. The attendant, Toni, told us of a local legend called the drums of Seneca and how if conditions were just right one could hear the drums of the Seneca Indian tribes who originally inhabited the area. I love a good legend.  And I love an afternoon of kayaking around a nice lake.

ready to launch

Bruce likes it

land/water rig, interesting

We did not spend a lot of time on wine tours during our stay. For a couple of reasons. One, nearly all of them closed by 5pm, and we would rather use the earlier afternoon hours for adventuring, and second,  after 6 or so tastes, it all starts tasting the same to me. I may as well be drinking from a box at that point.  Many times when we would stop for a drink or food I would order the local reislings, and try them in that matter. My palette is not very sophisticated, but I do enjoy craft beer tastings.

We did one tasting at Wagner’s Vineyard. The wine was good, the view spectacular, and they had a brewery as well.

wine tasting at Wagner’s

the entrance to Wagner’s

Another nice winery we stopped at was Starkey’s Lookout which also had a brewery. The I tried a reisling, Bruce had a beer, and the view was even more amazing than Wagner’s, looking out over the vineyards.

oh the beauty, I could have stayed all afternoon

Another watering hole, and our personal favorite, was a great brew pub with good food called the Grist Iron. The Grist Iron also had an Inn on the property. On the weekends they have music on a large deck with picnic tables and pub tables. We would often stop in on our way home from our daytime outing. It was just a bit down the road from our park, and that made it quite handy for a quick, or leisurely, stop on the way home.

the sign says it all!

just another sunset on Seneca at the Grist Iron

i wish i could have stayed for the class. lots of good artwork at the Grist

Our stay in the Finger Lakes area was a wonderful one, and I wouldn’t not hesitate to go back again. There is plenty to do and see. But our time in New York was soon spent, and it was time to move on. Maine was calling our name loudly, and tempting us with  thoughts of leaves and lobster.

look out Maine, here come the Sages

4 thoughts on “The Finger Lakes Region-New York

    • Yes, and it’s getting even better in Maine. Oh the colors, and it is not quite peak yet here in Bangor. Going on a color tour today 🙂

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