New York Stories and Tips

Tips for Letchworth State Park

Mt. Morris Dam Photo, New York, United States

The attractions of Letchworth State Park in Livingston County, NY are amply described on the park's website at www.letchworthpark.com and illustrated by the many photos on IGOUGO. The website includes a good map showing the many hiking trails and describes other activities and accommodations within the park. The latter include tent and trailer camping sites, as well as cabins, multi-room houses, and lodge and inn rooms that can be reserved and rented. Families with young children would enjoy a day or a week here and hiking enthusiasts could easily spend many days exploring all the 14 thousand acre park offers. The foliage is especially beautiful around October.

Some practical information that might not be readily apparent from the website is highlighted below:

ACCOMMODATIONS - Aside from what is available within the park, accommodations in the immediate vicinity are limited primarily to a Country Inn & Suites near the Mt. Morris entrance to the park and a Quality Inn in nearby Geneseo. However, the city of Rochester and its suburbs is only about 30-40 minutes away and provides many other options.

FOOD - There are grills you can use in the park and snack bars that provide grilled items, snacks, and ice cream. Choices outside the park are again limited, although there could be some hidden gems my wife and I have not found -- and you probably won't either. My best guess for the best nearby choice for hearty, homestyle cooking is Brian's USA Diner near the park's Mt. Morris entrance. I haven't eaten there, but the number of cars that are usually there indicate that either the food is good or there are no other choices anyway.
Again, you can always drive to Rochester. Or, if you want to stay in the country, I can highly recommend the Valley Inn (Ph: 585-786-3820) west on Route 20A one block before you hit the main crossroads in the village of Warsaw. This just might be the best gourmet dining value in Western New York. The chef has cooked for Navy admirals and at several big city hotels.

ORIENTATION / OTHER ATTRACTIONS - The park literature refers to the north and south entrances. For some reason, my personal internal compass tends to think in terms of east and west. Actually, the park follows the Genesee River as it flows mainly from the southwest to northeast. This also means there is a northwest side of the river and a southeast side. You only pay ($8) at the entrances of the northwest side and you will then receive a larger version of the park map found on the website. This is the side of the park that has the most attractions in terms of trails, picnic areas, waterfalls and spectacular views.
You may enter the park on the southeast side for free through the Mt. Morris dam entrance by following the signs from the center of the village or through the Parade Grounds Entrance at the other (southwest) end of the park near Portageville. In both areas you will find well-maintained, marked hiking trails. But the views are not as good as on the other side. If you visit the Mt. Morris Dam, one trail running along the gorge starts at the far end of the parking lot.

The park itself will keep most people fully occupied. Go to Rochester if you need to get away from nature for an evening or a day. Stony Brook State Park on Rt. 36 south of Dansville and the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford are definitely worth a visit. To the east lies the Finger Lakes wine country. And very close to the park you can make a short visit to The Abbey of the Genesee on the southeast side of the park at 3258 River Road near the village of Piffard. There you can visit the Abbey church with some impressive architecture and stained glass windows, attend a prayer service, or make a purchase at the book and bread store. The Trappist monks make the bread (called Monk's Bread!) and a sliced or unsliced loaf can make a good snack on the hiking trail. The store also sells preserves, honey, coffee and various cakes, including a tempting Blueberry Whiskey Cake.

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