Letchworth State Park Castile, New York

Letchworth State Park, renowned as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” is one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. The Genesee River roars through the gorge, over three major waterfalls and between cliffs as high as 600 feet in some places, running for 17 miles. It covers parts of two counties, Livingston and Wyoming, and is within parts of five different towns: Leicester, Mount Morris, Portage, Castile and Genesee Falls. The river’s cliffs are surrounded by lush forests. Hikers can choose among 66 miles of hiking trails. Trails are also available for horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Letchworth offers nature, history and performing arts programs, guided walks and tours, a summer lecture series, whitewater rafting, kayaking, hot air ballooning, and two pools for swimming. Winter activities include snow tubing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

Letchworth State Park is the largest and most diverse park of nine state facilities in the Genesee State Park and Recreation Region, one of eleven park regions administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. There’s nothing else like Letchworth State Park on the country’s East Coast. The famed “Grand Canyon of the East” boasts nearly 600-foot cliff walls and three major waterfalls along the Genesee River. The tallest waterfall in the state, Inspiration Falls, tumbles down a cliff from one of the tributaries. The park boasts its own conference center, campground, restaurant and hotel, the Glen Iris Inn. There are four entrances to the park, and its mass covers nearly 15,000 acres.It was named the No. 1 state park in the country by a national poll.

The 21 numbered trails (and one “secret one”) include the Gorge Trail (7 miles), which offers a view of Inspiration Point; Footbridge Trail (.05 miles), which is short but offers the only way over the gorge from east to west via a stone bridge; Smokey Hollow Trail (2.5 miles), which takes you past several of the park’s smaller waterfalls; and Gibsonville Trail which takes you by an old abandoned Civilian Conservation Camp from the 1940s. Want to know a secret? Ask for directions to the whopper of them all, the Letchworth Trail (20 miles). This trail is part of the 900-mile long Finger Lakes Trail System, and it is unnumbered in the park.