Shequaqua Falls

Trail description:

Today's hike is the shortest on our Culinary Trek--barely three miles from the village of Watkins Glen to Montour Falls. For much of the way, we'll travel through the Queen Catherine Marsh following the Catharine Valley Trail. Much of the CVT parallels the Seneca-Cayuga Canal which is part of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and it keeps boat traffic moving from Montour Falls thru Watkins Glen and into Seneca Lake. The trail is busy with hikers and walkers and the waterway with boat traffic but we've also seen blue herons lurking in the reeds.

When you get to Montour Falls, treat yourself to a tour around the historic village center. Not only does it have the lovely Shequagua Falls but it has a bevy of elegant Greek Revival buildings that are on the National Register. If the Montour Falls Memorial Library is open, stop in and admire the stain glass windows or enjoy one of its programs. The Glorious T where Main Street meets Genesse St. and your eyes meet the falls is one of the finest intersections in upstate NY.

Tomorrow's hike will follow the CVT to the end of the line. The CVT owes a large debt of gratitude to Ed Hoffman (1931-1999), an Elmira attorney and a local trailblazer who saw the potential in the abandoned Chemung Canal towpath and the Northern Central Railroad corridors. His vision and his negotiating skills helped secure the trail. Today it's managed by NYS Parks and a recent grant will ensure its completion. Much of the trail follows the old railbed.

Culinary Asides:

When you get to Montour Falls, stop by the beautifully restored Montour Falls House either for that cup of coffee you've been craving or the glass of wine you need to sip. Maggie sometimes keeps the wine bar open for the after-theatre crowd coming from the Old Havana Courthouse Theatre after one of the Friday night melodramas. Don't forget to pick up a snack bag of the delicious Hola! Granola and at least a One Tough Cookie for tomorrow's hike.

The Harvest Cafe

If you're not staying at a B&B, the Harvest Café for breakfast is where you should go. And, if you had breakfast already, then you need to pick up lunch at the Harvest Cafe. Thursday night, it's open for dinner and often there are Saturday night performances and dinners. "Where community happens" is its motto and from the oilcloth table coverings to the home-cooked creations, it's a culinary highlight for a hiker-whether you are an omnivore in search of a good burger or a vegan looking for black bean quinoa burger. Either one would go well with their local brews and upstate NY wines.

Food, Lodging, & Activities

There are other food establishments on Main Street and plenty of options for lodging. Make sure you book early. I tried finding a B&B six weeks before my trip and everything was booked for a Saturday night. Many B&B's also require a 2 night stay on the weekend. I would have no problem staying at the lovely Cook Mansion B&B for two nights so consider extending your stay.

Friday Night at the Courthouse: And, if you happen to walk into Montour Falls on Friday nights, stop by The Old Havana Courthouse Theatre (408 W Main St) for one of their thrilling melodramas. If you're lucky, you'll catch one that has been directed by Camilla Schade (actor/director/playwright)or stars one of the talented high school and college students from the area. The Old Havana Courthouse Theatre is owned by the husband & wife team of Bill and Donna Christoffells who met at the Manhattan School of Music more than 40 yrs ago. Donna is the Music Director for the plays and Bill, the Impresario.

And, on your way out of town, stop by the Falls Woodcraft Gift Shop, a whirligig heaven. The husband & wife team of woodworkers (Mert & Nona) have been in business for 29 yrs. Take off your pack before you enter the store or the yard since it's jam-packed with their creations.