Letchworth State Park: Grand Canyon of the East

November 20, 2011 at 5:39 pm Leave a comment

Finger Lakes Summer

As the sun rises the fog lifts

Letchworth State Park, nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the East,” is a not-to-miss attraction in the Finger lakes Region.

The Genesee River roars through the gorge over three major waterfalls, one of which is 107 feet in height, between cliffs as high as 600 feet in some places surrounded by miles of lush forests.

Finger Lakes Summer

Sun rise over several hogbacks

One of the parks unique geological features are hogbacks, “a series of sharp-crested ridges with steep slopes on both sides, formed by the erosion of steeply tilted rock layers.” “The name comes from the ridge resembling the high, knobby spine between the shoulders of a hog.”

Hogbacks are made up of sedimentary rock, where there are layers of softer rock, which erodes at a faster rate, leaving the harder layers  of rock to form ever steeper cliffs (usually 40 degrees or more).

Finger Lakes Summer

Depression era Civilian Conservation Corps projects shape the park’s appearance.

Hikers can choose among 66 miles of hiking trails. cool off in one of the park’s two swimming pools, picnic at one of the 12 picnic areas, and camp at more than 25o campsites and 82 cabins. Trail map:  LetchworthN&SEndMaps

Finger Lakes Summer

Park Rangers

I arrived at the park gates at sunrise. The park had friendly furry rangers waiting for me at the entrance. I drove through the park, catching the sun as it peeked over the horizon and lit up gorgeous gorges, at one scenic overlook after another. These images were shot in early August.

In the midst of the park is the historic Glen Iris Inn. The Inn is the former residence of Buffalo businessman, philanthropist, and social reformer William Pryor Letchworth, who donated his estate to New York State in 1907. Today you can still dine and stay at the Inn, located inside the park grounds. Check here for more information about the history of Letchworth State Park.

The park comprises 14,350 acres, along 17 miles of the Genesee River, 35 miles South of Rochester, New York and 55 miles East of Buffalo, New York.

Sunrise in Mount Morris, just outside the entrance to Letchworth State Park

For avid off-road bikers, the Genesee Valley Greenway Trail is a wonderful 80-plus mile bike trail, that starts in Genesee Valley Park (Rochester), and continues south, all the way to Mt Morris (the entrance to Letchworth Park), continuing south through the southern end of the park and on all the way to and beyond, to the southern tier expressway, ending past Cuba NY. Sections in the southernmost part appear to be still under construction. Pack water as there are not a lot of watering holes between Rochester and Mount Morris via this trail.


Entry filed under: Activities, Bed and Breakfasts, Cross Country Skiing, Environmental Protection Fund, Finger Lakes, Genesee River, Hiking, Lodging, New York, New York State Parks, restaurants, Rochester, Snowshoeing, Trails, Waterfalls. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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