If you live in New York, your idea of “nature” may be different than that of most park-goers. Central Park isn’t really considered a national forest by the standards of the average US citizen. Finding real nature in New York State is tricky if you live in the city, but if you have the time to venture out of the city limits, you may find Catharine Valley Trail to be everything you’re looking for in an outdoors experience.
You’ll find Catharine Valley Trail in the scenic Watkins Glen State Park in Watkins Glen, New York, and it really is an experience if you want to take in some gorgeous vistas. Getting higher ground in Catharine Valley, you can look in literally any direction and see a brilliant landscape. In fact, you could photograph the park from just about any angle and hang the results in a museum.
Natural beauty isn’t what New York is known for, but it’s what you’ll find in Watkins Glen State Park, nevertheless, with Catharine Valley Trail providing some of the best sights in the state.
Paved lengths of the trail offer cyclists a place to get some exercise while taking in the view, while other pieces of the trail are traversable only on foot, offering hikers and backpackers some peace and quiet to get closer to nature on their own time. If you only want to spend an afternoon, there are literally thousands of places to pitch a picnic blanket and have a few sandwiches while enjoying the view of the valley from above.
Much of the trail is still being developed as of the time of this writing, but if you want to do some camping, there are spots in Watkins Glen State Park where you can pitch a tent and hit the trail in the morning.
There’s technically no “bad” time of year to visit Catharine Valley, but some times are better than others, as with any park. The two best parts of the year to check the trail out are probably Autumn, where you can watch the leaves change color, and Winter, where you can enjoy a rare sight in New York State: a white Christmas.
Of course, winter might not be the best time to go on a long hiking trip or to go camping, but if you only want to spend an afternoon, then getting bundled up and visiting the park during the colder months is at least guaranteed to leave you with some beautiful photographs of your visit.
You can find more information at Catharinevalleytrail.org, where you’ll find hours, directions and contact information if you’d like to learn more. All in all, Catharine Valley Trail, or as some call it, CVT, is perhaps your best bet for beautiful scenery and fresh air in New York State.