Letchworth Trail List and Info

8 Aug

During our Run ‘Em All/Hike ‘Em All Letchworth Trail Challenge, we had the opportunity to see some really amazing trails…and also some not-so-amazing trails.  In case anyone is looking for more info on the trails, here’s what we found.

First, the trail maps that they give you at park offices are pretty nice. Except that they do not coincide with the trail maps posted at trail heads or the laminated map our friends bought in the gift shop (although that one was closer at least).  That being said, we found that the paper trail maps are more accurate than the ones at trail heads.

 

The lists/maps at the trail heads are not always accurate/the same as the lists on the maps they give out at the park.

The lists/maps at the trail heads are not always accurate/the same as the lists on the maps they give out at the park.

Most of the trails in Letchworth are out and backs–there are very few loops, which means you need to double the mileage that they tell you.

Last, the signs at the trail heads list the trails here as either “easy” or “moderate.”  I have talked about this in the past with the trails in the ADK as well, but I truly believe these designations are often flawed.  In my opinion, easy means grandma and my small children can easily handle the hike.  There were some trails marked “easy” that I’m not sure I’d classify as easy.  They weren’t “difficult,” but they were certainly nothing to sneeze at.

That being said, here’s the list of the trails we completed, along with my thoughts on each one/what you can expect.

Trail 1–The Gorge Trail–7 miles all the way down the gorge.  If you start at Upper Falls, you will walk by all of the waterfalls, on some stone stairs and through some really beautiful scenery.  The first 2 or 3 miles of the trail are very scenic.  When you get to the Lower Falls/Rafting area, the trail is not very well marked, but you just follow the road through some of the other picnic areas–Tea Tables, Wolf’s Creek and St. Helena.  It’s a relatively rolling trail (not at all flat), but there’s a lot to see and it goes through the tourist-y areas of the park.

Trail 2–Mary Jemison–2 1/2 miles of rolling double track that starts from the same parking lot as Trail 1 and winds along the train tracks and leads all the way to Council Grounds.  This trail is really pretty and well maintained.

Trail 2a–Hemlock–2 1/2 miles of rolling double track that connects Trails 2/Council Grounds and 3.  Again, this trail is really pretty.

Trail 3–Trout Pond–3/4 mile of double track that is relatively flat and follows around Trout Pond, which is allegedly stocked with fish (but looked pretty overgrown and unfishable).

Trail 4–Birch–3/4 mile of wide trails/gravel road leading from the main park road to other points on the main park road and also to a group camp site.  This was relatively easy (a little hill) but pretty boring, too.  I suppose it would be good for kids to hike.

Trail 5–Lee’s Landing–1 mile of gravel road/path that goes straight down to the river.  This is where you can put in a canoe/kayak (with the proper permits).  It was a big hill to get back up, but the views of the gorge/river were pretty awesome!

Trail 6–Portage–1/2 mile of really nice single-track that starts out flat, then cuts down towards Trail 6a.

Trail 6a–Footbridge–1/2 mile going straight down to the stone footbridge over the river.  It connects on the other side of the river with Trail 1, and it’s amazingly beautiful.  I really loved it, and it may actually have been my favorite part of the trip!

Trail 7–Genesee Greenway–5 3/4 mile of double track/wide old carriage paths.  There were some really awesome vantage points to look out over the gorge.  We parked on the main park road at the parade grounds entrance and if you go toward Portageville, you can also go under the Portage Train Bridge, which is really cool.  The other side of the road is actually also part of the FLT, and was kind of boring after a while.  I guess I much prefer the single-track trails…

Trail 8–River Road–2 3/4 mile of…road.  River Road turns into an unpaved, gravel, hilly road.  It was kind of boring, but part of the challenge, so here we go!

Trail 8a–Blue Jay–1/2 mile of carriage trail straight down to the park road, then you get to hike back up it.  Blah.

Trail 9–Dishmill Creek–3 miles of single-track that was really nice (there is a section along River Road).  It was really, REALLY nice trail, and even though it’s kind of far from the “beaten path” of the park, it’s totally worth the drive down to E Cabins to check it out!

Trail 10–Big Bend–2 1/2 miles straight up a gravel road–I’m pretty sure you can drive up it, and there’s a nice lookout at the top, then you come all the way back down the hill.

Trail 10a–Trillium–1/2 mile straight down single-track and the trail just kind of ends randomly and then you climb back out to 10.  10a also connects at the bottom with the FLT.

Trail 11–Deer Run–1 1/2 miles that goes gently up, then gently back down to the road.  This trail was EXTREMELY wet when we did it this time (I don’t remember it being this wet the first time we did it, and to be fair there had been some BIG rain storms in the days leading up to our run).  Wet enough to actually have part of the trail almost like walking through a creek.  In addition, the trail was very overgrown in places.  Again, I don’t remember this being an issue when we did it the first time around, but this time it was in rough shape.

Trail 12–Seneca–3/4 mile

Trail 13–St Helena–1 1/4 miles that go straight down to the river.  It’s cool to be down there, and it’s actually where the white water rafting company gets you out of the boats and onto a bus back to the headquarters (the road goes a separate way from the trail).  This trail is really cool, although there were a LOT of downed trees when we went through–again we had a lot of big storms in the days preceding our trip.  I wonder how often trail work is done and how long those trees will sit before they are removed.

Trail 14–Gardeau–1/2 mile straight down to Gardeau Overlook, this trail was completely overgrown.  Eric and I actually turned back after a 1/2 mile because we’d had enough of bushwhacking and I was nervous about ticks.  The other guys apparently found a trail out to the overlook.

Trail 15–Smokey Hollow–2 1/4 miles down, then straight along a relatively flat (but very overgrown) trail, then straight back up to the road.  It’s about a mile in between the two trail heads of this trail, which is as close to a loop trail as you get apparently.  It was not marked very well, and the trail was very overgrown, which kind of sucked.

Trail 16–Bear Hollow–2 miles that starts off of River Road and is an access point to the FLT (see below).  It was muddy and not very well marked.  It’s also the turn around point for the Dam Good Trail Race.

Trail 17–Big Flats–1 1/4 miles straight down a massive, slippery (muddy) hill.  The trail starts from the camping check-in spot, and then connects to 15, so you can either continue onto 15 or you have to go right back up the hill to get back to the trail head.

Trail 18–Kisil Point–1 3/4 miles that goes past the campgrounds and loops back around to bring you to the start (it’s partly just an out-and-back, but there is a small loop portion so you’re not on the SAME trail all the time).  Near the start, you can walk down a separate path to a really beautiful waterfall that is part of the Silver Lake Outlet–totally worth it!

Trail 19–Gibsonville–1/2 mile that leads by the former barracks of the Gibsonville Civilian Conservation Corps crew.  It is not particularly well-marked, kind of boring, but there is an old chimney and Trail 19a (Chipmunk Trail), which is not listed on every map, connects, going straight up a massive hill.  At the top, Trail 20 connects (pretty much right at the road), and we really had a hard time finding it (not sure how).

Trail 20–Highbanks–4 3/4 miles of rolling single-track trail that was REALLY nice.  Towards the dam section of the trail, you’re mostly just walking near the road, but there are some really nice look out points on the gorge/river and then of course at the Dam, you can check out the Dam, the grill and gift shop and the giant wooden chair.  It’s a really nice trail, and as we hiked, we actually discussed when we could get back to run it, because it seems like the kind of trail that would be perfect for a run!

Trail 21–Powerline–3/4 mile down to the powerlines and also an access trail to the FLT–the first lean-to on the FLT is not far from here.

Trail 22–Sycamore–3/4 mile

Finger Lakes Trail–24 miles of beautiful, winding, hilly single track.  You’ll pass tons of waterfalls and hike through many creeks.  There are two lean-tos, one about 5.5 miles from the Dam Visitor Center and another about 14 miles from the Dam Center (9.6 miles from the Parade Grounds Entrance to the park).  There are a lot of different access points to River Road, as well, so if you wanted to just do a day hike, that’s a possibility.  The access trails are mostly straight downhill to the FLT, and they can be pretty wet/sloppy.

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One Response to “Letchworth Trail List and Info”

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  1. Run ‘em/Hike ‘em All Challenge! | shmeruns - August 8, 2014

    […] Over the course of the 9 days, we ran and hiked just shy of 100 miles.  We had a bunch of visitors to help us pass the miles.  And we made some great new friends–it’s amazing how quickly you get to know someone over miles and campfires.  This trip was pretty epic.  In fact, it actually made me a little bit glad that plans had fallen through, and we were “stuck” on the east coast.   I wrote this in one of the other parts of my recap from last week, but it’s worth reposting again:  Here, on my couch, 3 days later, I am still tired.  My legs are still a little funny, my foot hurts a little bit (lots of slipping and sliding in mud), I am eating everything in sight (I really hate camp food and ate very little…except for skittles).  But my heart is so full.  We were so sad to have “missed out” on the cross country trip, but the reality is we didn’t miss out on anything.  We just had a different adventure.  And I guess this is a big metaphor for my life right now.  Rather than think of the things that we are missing, we need to embrace the things we have, make the best of crappy situations, and keep living it up.  Life is insanely beautiful and we are surrounded by so many good, funny, like-minded people who add so much joy and happiness to our lives.  Call it lucky.  Call it blessed.  No matter what you call it, it’s awesome. So without further ado, here are my recaps of each part of the adventure.  🙂   Part One:  Camping at Letchworth Part Two:  Backpacking the Finger Lakes Trail Part Three:  Letchworth Trail List and Info […]

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