by Leo Roth, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, link to original post
Rob van der Stricht, born in Canada and raised in Connecticut, moved to Rochester in 1974 and instantly fell in love with the Finger Lakes. “He adored them,” said his widow, Sue van der Stricht, whose family owns a home on Canandaigua Lake.
An avid birder, fisherman and canoeist, Rob felt a special connection to undeveloped Hemlock Lake, Sue said. “He loved being able to go out in a canoe and not get run over by a motor boat,” she said. “He also loved the wildlife, seeing birds, the fact the water was clean and you had the ability to use something as pristine as that.”
Passionate about conservation issues from boyhood, Rob van der Stricht was board chairman for the local chapter of The Nature Conservancy when he died of cancer in 2006 at age 56.
To honor the memory of their beloved colleague and friend who lived in Brighton, The Nature Conservancy built Rob’s Trail in 2008, a splendid 1.75-mile loop designed by staff ecologist Gregg Sargis, nestled on the high ground between Hemlock and Canadice Lakes. The trail is part of the newly designated Hemlock-Canadice State Forest.
“Rob loved Hemlock Lake in particular,” executive director Jim Howe said. “We knew we wanted to do something to honor him and seized upon the idea of linking these two lakes with a trail.”
From a parking lot off South Old Bald Hill Road, hikers can access a trailhead and information kiosk featuring a moving tribute to van der Stricht, whose nickname was “the gentle giant.” A history of the glacial forces that formed this unique geology can also be found.
The loop trail is easy walking through early succession plant and tree growth. For the more adventuresome, a steep three-quarter-mile connector trail winds down to the shoreline of Canadice Lake.
In addition to the scenic vistas, hikers can be on the look out for black bears, eagles, deer, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, weasels, songbirds, bees and butterflies.
Friends and family said van der Stricht would’ve celebrated to no end the land transfer of the Hemlock/Canadice Watershed from Rochester to the state that preserves the 7,000-acre resource forever wild. “He would’ve been jumping up and down,” Sue van der Stricht said. “As my son (John) said, ‘We should’ve sprinkled some single malt scotch over the trail again.’”
Where to go
To find Rob’s Trail: take I-390 south to exit 10, Routes 5 and 20 east to NY 15A south, and through the Village of Hemlock. Continue to top of hill above Hemlock Lake, veering left onto South Old Bald Hill Road. Parking on left. Contact The Nature Conservancy at (585) 546-8030 and www.nature.org.