Posts Tagged ‘Rochester’

It’s winter – time to plan for some fun in the snow. If you live in or near Monroe, Wayne or Ontario Counties, there are trails nearby that provide opportunities for a quick evening moonlit ski or a longer weekend outing. Here are 10 of my favoritesSnow Trails.

Monroe County
1. Mendon Ponds Park in Mendon has 20 miles of groomed trails for all levels of ability. The trails wind among the eskers, kames and kettle ponds of this glacially sculpted landscape. It’s a popular winter playground for avid skiers.
2. Powder Mills Park in Pittsford is another hilly park with 8 miles of marked, groomed trails.
3. For less hilly terrain, try Webster Park along the shore of Lake Ontario. It is the beneficiary of lake effect snows. Escape into the wilderness in the middle of suburbia on a myriad of loop trails.
4. Genesee Country Nature Center in Mumford is great for families. There’s a small entrance fee, but you’ll find 4.5 miles of easy, groomed trails, a warming hut, and restrooms. Plus you can rent skis or snowshoes on site.

Ontario County
5. Canadice Lake Trail parallels the west shore of Canadice Lake with gorgeous views for an easy 7.4 mile round trip. For more of a challenge, try the side loop trails up the steep hillside.
6. Cumming Nature Center is a week-end family favorite with amenities and equipment rentals. It offers 15 miles of groomed trails. There is a small entrance fee.
7. Skiers’ Mecca is Harriet Hollister State Memorial Recreation Area south of Honeoye Lake. This park sits at high elevation and promises snow cover when the rest of the area is barren. The 20 miles of trails are groomed by volunteers from the N.Y.S. Section V Ski League and are used for ski races. The trails wind through pristine woods and one trail offers a panoramic view north over Honeoye Lake.

Wayne County
8. Casey Park in Ontario offers a 1.8-mile round trip on a flat trail along the shore of a lake that formed in an old iron ore quarry. The more adventurous can continue around the lake on the hilly, narrow north shore trail with gorgeous views down to the lake.
9. Blue Cut Nature Center sits between Newark and Lyons. Here you’ll find 2 miles of easy trails through the woods and along a marshland. The trails are free, but don’t expect amenities.

When you head out to ski, it’s helpful to have a guide specific to winter such as the local guidebook “Snow Trails.” The guide describes which parking areas are plowed in winter, which roads remain unplowed and become part of the ski trail network. You’ll also learn how each trail is rated in terms of beginner, intermediate and expert runs, and which trails are too narrow and steep and are best left for adventurers on snowshoes.

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Here’s a list of hiking clubs that maintain sections of the Finger Lakes Trail. Join the one nearest to you to find others who like to hike and maybe join them on a trail maintenance day. Our trails can use all the help they can get.

Buffalo Area:
ADK Niagara Frontier Chapter http://www.adk-nfc.org
Foothills Trail Club http://www.foothillstrailsclub.org
Rochester Area:
ADK Genesee Valley Chapter http://www.gvc-adk.org
Genesee Valley Hiking Club http://www.fingerlakestrail.org/gvhc.htm
Syracuse Area:
ADK Onondaga Chapter http://www.adk-on.org
Ithaca Area:
Cayuga Trails Club http://www.cayugatrailsclub.org
Binghamton Area:
Triple Cities Hiking Club http://www.tier.net/~tchc
Chenango County:
FLT-Bullthistle Hikers http://www.bullthistlehiking.org
Eastern NY State:
ADK Mid-Husdon Chapter http://www.midhudsonadk.org

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It had been several years since Rich & I visited Vosburg Hollow. The Webster Trails grop5160043.jpgup had acquired access to the land that sits at the west end of


the Hojack Trail where Shipbuilders Creek flows under the old Lake Ontario Shore Railroad (Hojack Line) through a large culvert. At that time, all we could do was park in the access area off Vosburg Road and follow a steep trail down to the culvert.p5160032.jpg

Returning now, we saw an immediate difference. From the parking area we could see a set of wooden steps leading downhill to a bridge over Shipbuilders Creek. On the other side of the creek, we followed a creek-side trail, passing an opening below a shaded tree canopy where a bench beckp5160033.jpgoned us for a contemplative rest, to the old (and highly adorned) culvert.

We backtrackp5160035.jpged to the trail junction, then headed uphill through the hollow. Signs of fall surrounded us, from the leaf-covered trail to the ferns, yellowed from ap5160038.jpg nip of frost.

Such a peaceful stroll. We breathed in the aroma of fall leaves and listened to the twitter of birds.


After the short walk we met the Hojack Trail, where a sign and map box mark the junction, and headed back down through the hollow.


To enjoy this peace of heaven yourself, a map of the Hojack Trail and location of Vosburg Hollow can be found on page 80 in Take Your Bike – Family Rides in the Rochester Area. There are more photos and a map available on-line at Friends of Webster Trails web site.

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As summer wanes and fall colors begin to appear, road bikers should be in prime biking condition. You’ve probably biked manFishers Cobblestone Pumphousey of the same familiar routes this year. Maybe you need a new goal – a new reason to head out for a spin. I recommend going on a cobblestone quest.

In your travels you’ve probably passed cobblestone houses, but not given them much thought. Most peopel don’t realize that they’re unique to Central and Western New York State. In fact, over 90% of the cobblestone buildings ever built in the world are within a 65-mile radius of Rochester, NY. The 700+ buildings were constructed between 1825 and 1860, before the Civil War. Each is a creative work of folk art.

Imagine moving slowly by wagon, over roads that were mere ruts of mud, to build a log cabin in a remote wilderness. This is precisely how the early pioneers to upstate New York arrived. They purchased plots of land from the Phelps & Gorham Land Tract or Holland Land Company and had to clear the trees from the dense forest to create fields for farming.

In the process, they discovered the fields were full of fist-sized stones (or cobblestones), evidence that glaciers scoured this land before the forests grew. Those pesky stones had to be moved out of the way, and as they plowed, the cobblestones seemed to multiply. It was hard work, but the land was productive and the pioneers were able to grow enough produce to feed their large families.

When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, it created a way to get their produce to larger markets. The farming business flourished, enough so that the farmers began to think about building better homes for their hardworking wives and 10+ children. Why not put those pesky cobblestones to use and build a dandy home – they were, by golly, lying about free in the fields, just waiting to be gathered. And, the pioneers were not strangers to hard labor.

The original cobblestone homes were simple farmhouses. Over the 35-year span during which all the cobblestone buildings were built, they became progressively more elaborate and refined. Construction methods evolved and masons began to select stones, sorting them by size and color. They build homes with stripes, herringbone patterns and artistic patterns created with the cobblestones.

Today, many of the cobblestone buildings are still standing and in use, a testament to fine craftsmanship. A few of the masons who built houses in upstate New York migrated farther west and built a spattering of cobblestone buildings in the mid-west. But, by far, the bulk that were ever built, are in upstate New York, south of Lake Ontario.Cobblestone Quest

The cobblestone buildings clustered in this region make great biking tours. 17 different tours are detailed in the guidebook Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings. The shortest tour is 22 miles, the longest 83 miles, with most in the 45 to 55-mile range. They wind through backcountry roads, passing cobblestone houses, barns, smokehouses, stores, factories, and even cemetery markers. The guidebook describes the technique of cobblestone building and the history of the buildings, so you will understand what you’re passing. As you ride along, marvel at the skill of the masons and admire the dedication of the homeowners who have lovingly maintained these buildings over the centuries. Hop on your bike and take a fall tour through the unique history of our region.

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Take A PaddleOne of many pristine places to paddle in Central & Western New York, Hemlock Lake was saved from a ring of cottages to serve as Rochester’s water source. Leo Roth writes about his recent paddling experience there & references our Take A Paddle guidebooks. Click here to reariver otter dend his article and see a photo of me & Rich.

The photos are of two different river otter dens:river otter den

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