Rochester, NY: Finger Lakes Trail, Letchworth State Park

Tour sycamore forests to over-gorge views above the Genesee River on this branch trail off the Finger Lakes Trail.
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Tour sycamore forests to over-gorge views above the Genesee River on this branch trail off the Finger Lakes Trail.

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

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 21.1

Waypoints

FLL001

Location: 42.600254, -77.999783

Trailhead. From Cabin Area "E" head northwest along road.

FLL002

Location: 42.601205, -78.002817

Turn right at T onto dirt road through hardwoods.

FLL003

Location: 42.608967, -78.004199

Leave road at curve, and follow trail towards gorge edge.

FLL004

Location: 42.613111, -77.994

Head out to the river's edge for an overwater view, then return to this junction and head left (east) on the main trail.

FLL005

Location: 42.612964, -77.993432

Crossing Dishmill Creek can be tricky if you want to avoid wet feet - look for narrow spots or bridge fallen trees.

FLL006

Location: 42.609128, -77.987909

Outbound: Turn left onto the Finger Lakes Trail.

FLL007

Location: 42.617298, -77.980192

Outbound: Go left at the X-intersection for a sidetrip down the Seneca Trail with great views at end.

FLL008

Location: 42.618484, -77.984455

Pick your way through mature woods to the edge of the gorge where views and pleasant picnic spots abound.

FLL009

Location: 42.624649, -77.976605

Stay left at the Y-intersection.

FLL010

Location: 42.626001, -77.976559

Arrive at an Appalachian-style shelter complete with picnic table.

FLL011

Location: 42.640888, -77.964341

Outbound: Go left at the X-intersection for side trip down the Sycamore Trail, a former logging road.

FLL012

Location: 42.645449, -77.970059

Reach the northern turnaround point, with stay-awhile views of the river through the trees.

FLL013

Location: 42.608281, -77.987588

Go right at the Y-intersection signed "9" for a tiny sideloop or follow blazes to stay on FLT.

FLL014

Location: 42.607967, -77.988585

Rejoin FLT.

FLL015

Location: 42.602936, -77.993659

Turn right at the X-intersection onto trail 9 (leaving the FLT).

FLL016

Location: 42.60374, -77.994575

Cross Dishmill Creek (bridge may be washed out). Continue up draw directly ahead.

FLL017

Location: 42.602699, -77.997877

Veer right at the Y-intersection to stay on trail 9.

Genesse River Gorge

Location: 42.610276, -78.002954

Genesee River Gorge

Location: 42.612236, -77.999554

Genesee River

Location: 42.614405, -77.993062

Genesee River

Location: 42.614401, -77.992879

Northeastern Hardwoods

Location: 42.613422, -77.984835

Northeastern hardwoods, gently rolling terrain and frequent small stream crossings characterize this section of the Finger Lakes Trail.

Genesee River

Location: 42.619896, -77.986937

The author surveys the Genesee River and evidence of a former bridge crossing. Turn around here and head back for a shorter version of this hike.

Yellow Blazes

Location: 42.618358, -77.979621

Yellow tree blazes provide essential aide for following the Finger Lakes Trail at this time of year.

Stream Crossings

Location: 42.619842, -77.977619

Most stream crossings like this one are not bridged, but with a little thought and care you shouldn't have too much trouble finding a way across without getting wet feet.

Cedar and Pine

Location: 42.634204, -77.969634

This portion of the trail is characterized more by cedar and pine forest. Yellow blazes are invaluable.

Trail Register

Location: 42.62479, -77.976051

Trail register complete with sleepy resident.