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Top 3: Wine Country Hikes

The fine fall colors and comfortable weather of harvest season will make you want to raise a glass.
Sept12_TOP3_HellerFamilyMtStHelena_445x260Mt. St. Helena (Heller Family Vineyards)

Watkins Glen State Park, NY
Gorge Trail

Revel in rocky cliffs and first-rate Riesling.

When glaciers retreated from this area, they left behind two gifts: deep lakes that moderate air temperatures, and topography that helped streams carve dramatic gorges through sandy soils and bedrock. Those conditions make for great hiking, and they also help produce the best wine in the East. Enjoy both in a day: Begin a 4.5-mile semi-loop by climbing the Gorge Trail’s 800 shale steps past (and behind) 19 waterfalls in a 400-foot-deep chasm. Turn left toward the South Rim Trail near mile 1.3; white blazes lead to beaver-inhabited Punchbowl Lake. Go .2 mile to tick off one last fall, then return via the Finger Lakes Trail. Next, drive the three miles to Lakewood Vineyards (lakewoodvineyards.com) to taste crisp, dry Riesling (the area’s specialty). (607-535-4511; nysparks.com/parksTrip data backpacker.com/hikes/1761655

The way From Ithaca, take NY 79 W for 21 miles to NY 414 S. Turn left into Watkins Glen Village; the park entrance is in the middle of the village.

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