Plan a fantastic weekend with friends in the fall to Letchworth State Park. There are campgrounds within the state park; however, by the time my friends and I booked our trip, it was full for the weekend. We started planning in early August but didn't book till the end of August. If you want to stay within the state park, I would say to book early.
I went to Letchworth about 8 years ago and stayed within the state park. The site was clean and a KOA campsite.
This trip, my friends and I stayed at The Ridge Campground, which is about 3 minutes from the north entrance of Letchworth State Park. If you plan to park at the south entrance where all the waterfalls are, it's about a 22-minute drive.
For the activities we have planned, this campsite was perfect for our weekend goals.
Once the campsite is figured out, how do you get there? Letchworth is just under 5 hours from where I'm based. It is about 5.5 hours away from New York City, an hour from Buffalo & Rochester, NY, and 5 hours from Lake Placid, NY.
The major highways taken from Northern New Jersey were Route 17 North, to 1-87N to NY-17, to then exit I-390 N and take exit 6 to NY-36. To look up how far you are from Letchworth, here is the address: Letchworth State Park, 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427.
This campground is so clean and has terrific farms around it that give excellent views. Tina and her family run the camp. They are all so kind! Any questions you have about the campground, call before going.
Here is the address for the campground: 6920 Mt Morris Nunda Rd, Mt Morris, NY 14510
From the northland entrance of the camp, it is a 5 minutes drive. The campsite has a gorgeous entry with different outdoor entertainment from disc golf, volleyball, basketball, and more! The front store is where you enter, it also is where you check into your campsite. I went in October 2020. When you checked in, you were then lead by a golf cart by one of the family members to your site.
I drove up with my boyfriend Matt while our friends did the check-in, so they told us when we met them at the tent site, that is what happens. However, when we arrived later in the dark, we still needed to check-in for a car pass. The tent sites are limited to two cars per site. Campsites are also limited to two tents per site; keep this in mind when planning your trip!
On the way to the campsite, you drive past two ponds that you're able to fish from. In the morning, people were out fishing that added to the experience. It had almost a homey feeling or a quaint town.
From here, we passed the final section of RVs that had a picnic table and a pavilion to enter the rustic campsites. The setup of each site really makes you feel like you're driven through the woods to pitch your tent. The campsite was super spacious! We had a clear spot for where each car was to go and more than enough space to maneuver all of our belongings.
The first night was a bit of a blur. We threw up my tent, threw our belongings in, and got dinner started quickly. The first night's meal had become a meal I'm keeping as a must repeat or each go to. Grilled cheese and tomato soup! Picking up Progresso Tomato Basil, heated up over the Coleman stove and enjoyed two grilled cheese sandwiches while dunking into our soup.
For a fall chilly camping night, this was a little slice of heaven. If you plan to camp in the fall, I highly recommend getting canned soup to heat up over the stove or fire in a pan to have something warm for your meal.
Breakfast in the AM, each morning, we made eggs and picked up scones and muffins to enjoy with the eggs. If you've read my previous camping meal set up, then you'll know eggs and pancakes have been a staple for me! However, clean up, I did not want to deal with that. Plus, I have two camping bowls that I eat from. My boyfriend did not have any and Didn't wish to deal with who gets what bowl.
Lunch packed up items for the hike, items for a sandwich, and snacks. I am the worst with thinking about lunch on a trip, especially when an adventure is involved. I am trying to get better at it. Does anyone else struggle with this?
Dinner for night two, my friends that went on the trip were in charge of this meal. Between the last time of camping with them and this trip, I got my Coleman stove! Since they didn't know it, we went with a hobo meal. Those who do not know what a hobo meal is, basically meat or protein with whatever sides you want to be cooked in in foil on coals in a fire bit. Our friend brought ground beef, potatoes, peppers, onions, and carrots. Pro-tip, add seasoning, and olive oil! Both are key to make your meal tasty.
When doing a hobo meal, you need a lot of coals to cook the meal. You will rest the foil that you wrap your food in to hold up. The way you fold up your food is how you'll distinguish it on the fire. My foil wrapping skills were not the best. The concern was more if my food would stay inside the foil! My friend, who was the water of the fire and all the food, helped me out.
If you have never done a hobo meal, I would say have your first time happen with someone who knows what they're doing. This way, you can learn. If you want to try it, go for it! Just be sure to have headlamps for checking the meat is fully cooked through and protect your eyes! Since you need coals to cook with, the fire gets very smokey.
Our final morning breakfast was the same but included finishing off whatever breakfast goodies were left and trying to stay warm by having coffee and hot chocolate. The morning was pretty chilly. It was in the '30s.
Explore Letchworth State Park via Letchworth State Park Gorge Trail Day 1:
Figuring out which trails to do can be confusing. I recommend treating the trail like a long hike if you plan to walk to all the must-see spots. Driving from place to place can be a headache to find a parking spot, and you can be blocked from walking to the different falls by cars filling up the other parking lots.
My friends and I packed up the car post breakfast and headed to the park. We got there by 9:30, which was later than we were planning, but we lucked out with a spot. Going in early October with the chilly temperatures did work in our favor for the colder morning temperatures.
Once we parked, we got our gear set and ready for the day's adventure. We even brought our trekking piles just from the unknown conditions of the trails. I will say the trekking poles are not necessary. But we got our packs and layers on and headed to the top falls.
If you park at the middle falls, there are many spaces, and you're right in the middle of the top and middle falls and have bathrooms to go to.
Headfirst to the upper falls, walk all the steps, and it will give you some serious Lord of the Rungs vibes. If you're new to my blog, you will know I love all things Lord of the Rings. The steps going along the fall is gorgeous and will give you legs a good burn.
From here, you get a beautiful scenic path to the middle falls. This section of the trail has the most traffic. There is a path with a picturesque rock wall. There is a scenic outlook where many people do photo opts. The amount of families waiting to snag a picture, you will be amazed! There was even a wedding party since the venue is right above the middle falls.
From here is a longer path to the lower falls. The route from the middle falls to the lower falls is not smooth, like the upper falls to the middle falls. In this section, you will need more of a walking or hiking shoe style.
When you arrive at the next playground, bathroom, and parking lot section, you've reached the area above the lower falls. To reach the lower falls, you need to climb down the stairs. There is a sign when you go down that says it's 127 steps down. I think it's a little off. Seemed a lot longer!
From here, I highly recommend taking a break here to have lunch. We have the perfect lunch view to people watch and have a serious Lord of the Rings views. From the stone gorge, bridge, and high up vantage point.
Continuing on the pink blaze to see more of the trail, we end up in a random park where there was a park. We were supposed to see the stunning gorge views of the park. Letchworth is known for the waterfalls and gorges.
Using the All Trails app to navigate, it does not show that the pink trail splits. Highly recommend getting a printed map for the park. If we have this, we would have completed the full 14 miles out and back trail.
Note for you to not make the same error we did, keep to the left on the road, and head to Octagon Road.
After spending a while searching for the next blaze, we resolved to leisurely walk back to the car and drove to the known gorge lookout. The known Archery Field Overlook will be crowded with cars next to an open field. People flock here for photos. This location is where Letchworth gets its nickname, The Grand Canyon of the East.
From here and the long day, it was time to return to the campsite and enjoy dinner. If you scroll up, you'll see what the dinner was!
As a reminder, we visited the first weekend of October, and it kicked off their Halloween activities. Driving back through the campground, people put up Halloween decorations for the haunted hayride around the campsite. Scary decorations are so not my thing! It made me happy the campsite was tucked away so I wouldn't be surrounded by Halloween decorations.
Explore Letchworth Via Car Day 2:
Start at the north end of the state park since the entrance is 5 minutes from the campsite. Since we hiked the previous day and it was a long active day, we opted to drive from the north end and hit the turnoff from Park road that goes through the whole state park. I also felt a cold coming on, so having a more leisure exploration of the state park.
The north end does not have any waterfalls in this section of the park. Most people come to Letchworth to get those stunning waterfall views. However, the north end of the park has the dam which protected Rochester from a massive flood in 1972.
While I was there in October 2020, there was a decent amount of grass and brush growing where water would be. There is a massive chair that looked like an iconic spot for photos, but it was roped off due to Covid restrictions when I went. After enjoying the views, we moved on.
Any turnoffs on the roadside that felt like it would have a stunning view we turned off. The final gorge we stopped at Wolf Creek, we saw pink blazes at! I started laughing to see where we would have been brought to. It would have been a beautiful finish to the day, but it was nice to split it up to see the next day.
We couldn't finish the park without returning the middle falls for multiple reasons. It was a gorgeous sunny day, we wanted to revisit the upper and lower falls. This location had a bathroom that would be perfect before hitting the road home. Enjoy the view of the drive out, the roads are stunning!
Must Pack Items:
Sneakers preferable hiking shoes
Hiking socks, Darn Tough is my go-to hiking sock brand.
Layers: base layer, pullover, and jacket.
$10 - need to enter the park. There is a $10 charge per car to enter.
For camping items, check out this blog post to keep all your hiking needs handy.
Facts & Attractions of Letchworth State Park:
Letchworth State Park is known as the Grand Canyon of the East
The State Park is 14,350 acres and roughly 17 miles spanning Livingston and Wyoming counties
Offers 66 miles of hiking trails
American currency is in American dollars and cents
Letchworth State Park is in New York, and the capital is Albany
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my trip to Letchworth State Park in New York. If you have any questions about the area, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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