|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Sure, you could cover these 13.1 meandering miles by lunchtime, but take the whole day to savor the views and explore hidden picnic spots in what locals call "The Grand Canyon of the East."
Begin the lollipop loop at the trailhead on the east side of the Genesee River and head west and north through classic, western upstate New York forests. Don't skimp on the sidehikes: Short excursions from the Finger Lakes Trail (like the one at mile 1.6) lead to panoramic views of the main gorge and the Genesee surging through it. At mile 2.3, turn left onto the Finger Lakes Trail, scanning trailside for red fox and whitetail deer. Note: Deer hunting is allowed in the park in late fall, so avoid this hike then if the presence of hunters--or the evidence of their success--gives you the howlers.
At mile 3.7 turn left onto the .2-mile (one-way) Seneca Trail for a quick out-and-back to a river overlook--and some unspoiled picnic spots. Return to the FLT and follow yellow blazes northeast, crossing several shallow creeks. At mile 5.4 stay left and reach a three-sided shelter in .1 mile. Hike 1.6 miles alongside cedar and hickory until a left turn onto the .5-mile Sycamore Trail, the turnaround point. Follow the same path back until mile 10.8, where you'll stay left on the FLT. At mile 12.6, turn right onto trail 9 and follow it .5 mile to the trailhead.
If you still got gas in your tank, check out the historic developed areas of Letchworth State Park, like the Glen Iris Inn overlooking Middle Falls.
-Mapped by Steffan Fay