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Millennia in the Making

While a couple other state parks might get most of the publicity, Stony Brook maintains a lower profile, much to the delight of those who know it’s there, making it a true "hidden gem." 

Thanks to the work of glaciers passing through millennia ago, dramatic rocky-faced gorges are found throughout the region, including at Stony Brook. With three main waterfalls and several smaller falls cascading through the gorge, a stream-fed natural pool for swimming, three hiking trails (each is about a mile in length), numerous picnic areas, a playground, and over 80 campsites, you can spend a couple days exploring the wonders of nature, and partaking of some exceptional libations nearby.

“Stony Brook is a gem of a park . . . its current incarnation is an adventurous creek walk with towering waterfalls, refreshingly cool water and remnants of its historic past.” Matt Conheady, NYFalls.com

With rustic cabins and over 100 tent and trailer campsites scattered throughout the woodlands above the gorge, Stony Brook is the perfect place to camp, hike, picnic, and more.

Watkins_Glen_2_courtesy_Stu_Gallagher_5_10_18_can_use_for_2_years.jpg
Watkins Glen courtesy Stu Gallagher

History

Frequented by the Seneca Nation of Indians hundreds of years ago, Stony Brook’s deep gorge offered protection in wintertime. The Seneca were one of the original Five Nations of the Iroquois League (also called the Iroquois Confederacy), and were known as the Keepers of the Western Door as they were the westernmost nation of the Iroquois League. 

According to historians, the Seneca used-to winter between the canyons at Stony Brook, “since it was a protective space.”

After the Revolutionary War, the land in the area was farmed and mills were built. It seems as far back as the early 1800’s, tourists have been visiting the park for hiking and other outdoor activities which are still popular today. 

In the 1930’s, as part of the New Deal program, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) put Depression-era men to work building trails, stone walls and walks, and bridges. The result of their hard work is still being appreciated today as some of the more dramatic and picturesque aspects of the park are the stone bridges and walkways. 

Watkins Glen State Park
Watkins Glen State Park courtesy Kevin Peterson

“Why fight the masses at an overcrowded beach or public pool when you have the option of cooling off in a natural lagoon tucked away in many of Upstate NY’s wooded areas? There’s no better way to cool off after a hike than by jumping into the natural swimming pool at Stony Brook State Park.” – Caroline King, Thrillist

Fun for the Whole Family

Family-friendly and accessible, the park offers a variety of recreational opportunities, as well as tennis courts, picnic areas, and camping. 

Go swimming in the stream-fed swimming pool, which has water depth carefully marked and a lifeguard on duty during the summer months. Wander the hilly forest trails, walk the rim and the deep gorge that overlooks three waterfalls on several hiking trails, and pause to take photos at the two old stone bridges that cross the creek. 

In winter, visitors can cross-country ski or snowshoe on several of the park’s trails.

Watkins Glen State Park
Watkins Glen State Park courtesy Kevin Peterson

To learn more about Stony Brook State Park's amenities, click here