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Hidden New York State

15th August 2023

Hidden within the vast and diverse landscapes of New York State lie secret gems that unveil another side of this bustling and iconic region. Beyond the well-known attractions of New York City or the majesty of Niagara Falls, there are countless lesser-known pockets of beauty and intrigue to discover.

First up is Grimes Glen. Located in Naples, New York, Grimes Glen is at the end of a 1-mile creek walk. It is open to the public and boasts 3 tall waterfalls, perfect for an afternoon hike. Follow the sign for Grimes Glen once you reach the end of Vine Street. Park your car and follow the trail across the bridge to reach the waterfalls.

You’ll reach the first waterfall quickly, a tributary that falls into the left side of the gorge called French Hill Falls. A bit further down is the second waterfall, with water cascading down 60 feet. We suggest enjoying the glen here and not continuing further, as the third waterfall is more remote. However, if you’re a climber, there are ropes along the steep walls that will lead you to the third, more remote waterfall. Regardless, the first two are so beautiful if you decide not to continue on, but the third is probably worth the effort.

Next stop is Cornell Botanical Gardens. These botanic gardens are located close to Cornell University in Ithaca and consist of 25 acres of botanical gardens and 150 acres dedicated to the F.R. Newman Arboretum. These gardens date back to the founding of the university in the mid-1800s and have been continually maintained and expanded since then.

Come visit this beautiful area specialising in trees and shrubs native to New York State, and boasting an especially well-known herb garden. The Arboretum has several stunning tree collections, such as chestnuts, oaks and maples. The botanical gardens are open to all daily for no entrance fee and are a beautiful way to spend an afternoon in Ithaca.

Now on to Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island. Pollepel Island is located on the Hudson River and was first discovered by Dutch settlers. It was even used as a line of defence by the American forces during the American Revolutionary War. It is most famous, however, for Bannerman’s Castle, an old military warehouse built on the island.

Take a boat out to the island to explore this historic structure. The castle was originally built by Francis Bannerman, who used it as a place to store military supplies. In August 1920 several tons of shells exploded, destroying part of the complex. The island is mostly in decay now but is still accessible for intrepid kayakers who want to explore lesser-known areas of Hudson Bay.

Followed by Whiteface Mountain Steps. Not for the faint of heart, the steps to the peak of the Whiteface Mountain lead you to a spectacular view. In Wilmington take the drive out to the mountain, and skip the elevator once the road ends to scale the mountain.

The steps up are an adventure – it starts with a series of stairs, which eventually lead you to a hike up the rocks as you get closer to the top. It doesn’t take that long, and the view once you reach the top will make you proud of your accomplishment as you gaze down into the valleys, peaks and lakes. Of course, if you are too tired and want to take the elevator, the view is just as lovely!

Next is Boldt Castle. Located on Heart Island in the Saint Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands region, Boldt Castle is open to the public between May and October. From the Town of Alexandria, take a boat out to the mansion first built by American millionaire George Boldt, who intended to construct an elaborate house to rival the largest homes in the nation. It was left unfinished and abandoned upon his wife’s unexpected death until it was acquired by the state to turn into a public space. Your entrance fees contribute to the upkeep and maintenance of the buildings. Explore the extensive mansion and the island and snap some pictures of the river and the opposite shores. It feels a bit like a sleepy, enchanted castle.

Niagara Falls probably doesn’t require an introduction, but Niagara Falls State Park may do. While listening to the roar of one of the world’s most famous waterfalls is probably on your bucket list already, it’s worth noting there’s a lot more to do at America’s oldest state park after you’re done admiring the falls from the main viewpoint.

If you’re into hiking and love getting off the beaten path, a must-do activity is following the trail into the heart of the Niagara Gorge, where you’ll be able to walk down to the base of the gorge or hike the Devil’s Hole Trail, which offers incredible views of the rapids.

Finally something to eat. Origins Cafe at Carefree Gardens in Cooperstown is highly recommended. 5 stars and no 1 in the area…but not too expensive! Classic American Food with a twist. Start with the Fava Bean – Roasted Garlic – Mint Pate, then perhaps the Black and Blue Organic beef burger…Sweets include Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake and Mayan Mocha Crème Brûlée. Then possibly finish off with the local cheeseboard? Quite delicious.

We hope you enjoy your virtual tour of New York State!

Tony for the TripFiction team

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