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Letchworth State Park Trails

Niagra Region

Romantic

Directions & Trail Description
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Location: Beautiful Letchworth State Park is located in the Niagra Region of New York State along the Genesee River, 35 miles south of Rochester in Wyoming County.

Length/Configuration: 30 miles of multi-use trails. Design your own loop mountain bike ride using network of west side trails. The Finger Lakes Trail on the east side is 22 miles one-way.

Terrain/Surface: Mostly singletrack, with tecnically challenging sections, on varied terrain. Short section of old dirt road and Genesee Greenway at end of FLT.

Technical Difficulty: Moderate to advanced.

Elevation Change: Hilly.

Trail Use: mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling.

Caution: Multi-use trails. Finger Lakes Trail is open from June 1-Nov.1. It may be closed after heavy rain or wet periods.

 

Bike Wheel Image

Note: This trail map is a graphical representation designed for general reference purposes only. Read Full Disclaimer.

Directions:

Drive south on 1-390 to Exit 7.Take Rt. 408 to the the village of Mount Morris. Turn north onto NY 36, and drive a mile to the park's northern entrance.The Hogsback trailhead for the Finger Lakes Trail is on the way to the dam from Mount Morris.

 

General Description:

14,350 acre Letchworth State Park, the "Grand Canyon of the East," is one of the most scenic areas in the eastern U.S. The Genesee River bisects the park and roars through a deep gorge over three major waterfalls. The shale and sandstone cliffs rise as high as 600 feet in places. Millions of years of geological history can be observed in the interesting rock formations exposed by erosion and the slicing of the Genesee River.

Multi-use trails for hikers, bikers, equestrians and cross-country skiers (winter) wind over 60 miles around ponds, along the gorge rim, through a lush forest habitat where just about every species of eastern North American tree is represented. The park is also home to a variety of flora and fauna including several species of wild orchids, newts, salamanders, river otters, wild turkey, deer, black bear and a variety of birds from barred owls to herons.

For a romantic weekend, stay at the historic, completely restored Glen Iris Inn. Top off your day with a glass of champagne and dinner. The Inn is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Campers can take advantage of tent and trailer campsites or winterized cabins. The region's rich heritage of the Seneca Indians is well-documented in the park with displays, a restored Seneca Council House and the grave of Mary Jemison (see historical note below).

Other activities at Letchworth include swimming in the Park's two pools, nature, history and performing arts programs, guided walks and tours, a summer lecture series, whitewater rafting, kayaking and hot air ballooning.

 

The Trails:

There are two distinct riding areas at Letchworth State Park:

The Finger Lakes Trail at Letchworth State Park is open for mountain biking only from June 1 to October 31 as conditions allow (biking is not permitted after heavy rains or prolonged wet periods). Trail access is subject to change. Please check with the Park Office before riding.

West Side Trails: 4.5 miles one way. Green paint blazes.

The trails open to biking on the west side of the gorge are 2, 2A, and 3. They are accessible behind the Trailside Lodge, the council grounds, or the little parking lot next to the train bridge. Trails 10, 11 and 13 located in the central portion of the west side are also open to bikes.

2A: A true multi-use trail often used for biking, horse-back riding and snowmobiling. This 2.5 mile wooded trail travels through rolling terrain once used as farmland. The fields have returned to forest and old growth eastern hemlocks, 200+ years old still mark the long forgotten hedgerows. The winding route follows Deh-ga-ya-soh Creek and connects two trails (2 & 3) to form a popular mini-network. As you pass by Pine Pond and Beaver Pond, be sure to look for wood ducks, spotted turtles, and bullfrogs.

 

Note: Several of the trails in this section are closed to bikes, such as Trail #1, which runs along the west side of the gorge. Not only is this trail crowded with foot traffic but it also travels along the gorge edge next to a 600 foot drop off! It doesn't take a brain surgeon to understand that biking on this trail is a severe safety hazard for all parties present, no matter how good of a rider you may be.

 

East Side Trails

Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) in Letchworth State Park: 22 miles total. Yellow paint blazes.

The Main Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) is 558 miles long and is part of a 958 mile system of interconnected long distance and spur trails that traverse both public and private lands. At it's western end, it connects to the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) at the Pennsylvania-New York State border in Allegany State Park and stretches east to the Catskill Forest Preserve where it connects with the Long Path. Bike riding is generally not permitted on the FLT. Except for a 22 mile stretch of the FLT that passes through Letchworth State Park, many state forest sections are closed to bikes and where the trail crosses private land, riders may be subject to criminal trespass arrest.

A lot of behind the scenes dynamics go into keeping this magnificent 22 mile stretch of The Finger Lakes Trail open to mountain bikes. The RBC (Rochester Bicycling Club) and WYNMBA (Westchester Mountain Bike Association) have worked for years to get this section of trail open. It has not come without a price. The bike clubs have put in blood and sweat in trail maintenance hours and promoting responsible riding in order to keep this beautiful section of trail open to mountain bikes.

  • Don't ride when it's wet
  • Don't skid, especially not at the creek crossings
  • Slow down for hikers

You need to register at the Park office if you want to bike the FLT. The Letchworth State Park FLT is extraordinarily scenic. It travels over varied terrain and is comprised of mostly singletrack with some technically challenging sections. Most people access the 22 mile stretch of FLT in Letchworth from the Hogs Back Trailhead near Mt. Morris. Obviously, because this section of trail gets the most use, it is wise to try other trailheads for a change. Besides, variety is the spice of life! You will find many alternate trailhead options along River Road which parallels the entire length of the park.

At the southern end of the Park the trail merges with an old dirt road before merging with the (Genesse Valley Greenway Trail) which follows the former route of the Genesee Valley Canal and its successor, the Pennsylvania Railroad, Rochester Division. The route which used to hug the walls of the gorge was eventually shut down due to constant landslides which still continue to this day. Use caution going through this area. It will be obvious.

The trail ends at the road just across the bridge from the Village of Portageville. Do not go any further! At this point, the FLTC spills out onto private property sections of the FLT south of the park. Please respect that.

 

Trails 8 and 8A (The Big Bend Loop)

These 2 trails are strategically located. Trail 8 provides access to River Road. Trail 8A branches off Trail 8 and connects to the Parade Ground from which you can meet up with Trail 10, the popular Big Bend Loop. It travels on relatively flat gravel forest roads along the Genesee River offering cyclists fantastic views of the gorge. The path loops like an eye in a needle along the curve of a "big bend" in the river and doubles back on itself to the Parade Ground.

 

Historical Note:

Mary Jemison

An 18th-century settler who was kidnapped by Indians in a raid that killed her family, and chose to remain with her captors on land that later became part of the park. This "White Woman of the Genesee" is buried in the park near the Jemison cabin and the Letchworth Museum.

William Pryor Letchworth Museum Museum

The museum was built in 1912 and was planned by William Pryor Letchworth to expand his original Genesee Valley Museum which was built in 1898. The museum was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. The museum has displays of pioneer and Native American artifacts collected by Mr. Letchworth, including items such as stone tools and pottery. The museum also features a restored Seneca Indian Council House.

Glen Iris Inn

Surrounded by the mist and roar of the Middle Falls, the Glen Iris Inn and Restaurant is the former country retreat of the park's founder, William Pryor Letchworth.

 

 

For more information:

Letchworth State Park
1 Letchworth State Park
Castile, NY 14427

Phone: (585) 493-3600
(TTY) Users: (585) 493-3070 or 711 (AT&T National Relay)
Website: Letchworth State Park

 

 

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