Finger Lakes, A Backyard Trail

In a recent post about the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) in western New York, I mentionedOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA that we humans often disregard important outdoor resources when we live close by them. It’s as if these resources near the backyard really don’t need to be taken seriously. Maybe we’ll get to them, or maybe we won’t. For years the FLT, coincident with the North Country Scenic Trail for several hundred miles across New York, has been available for my hiking pleasure, but I’ve always had other things to do.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy post received several comments from readers who felt the same way about recreational opportunities near their homes. Proximity somehow lessened their need to explore them. This was interesting to me, but I also mentioned that I hoped to lessen my ignorance of these trails by finally getting out to see a part of them.

I decided to make another foray on the Finger Lakes Trail, this time on a spur trail nearest my home. I wouldn’t run it, bike it, power walk it, or anything else of the sort. I’d  just ramble from point A to B and back, perhaps note the character of the trail and some of its natural constituency. Getting acquainted with the flora, fauna and landforms of a place seemed like a good way to get to know it better.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I visited a spur trail near the city of Hornell, New York.  It was an early May morning, my favorite time of year. Trees were leafing, like the playing of a blues guitar that tears up the aural atmosphere and hangs lime confetti in the air. I left the car at an access to the Kanakadea Park Trail system and within minutes entered a tunnel underneath Interstate 86. The long, uneven tunnel walk beneath passing cars and semi trucks was a bit disorienting. If an earthquake suddenly struck, I said to myself, I could have a natural burial down here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI climbed through a transitional zone, enjoying the sights and sounds of newly arrived birds– bee-buzz of the blue-winged warbler, jumbled notes of gray catbird, the belling of a Baltimore oriole– and climbed through deciduous woods to a resting place at the Kanakadea Lean-to. Getting there was like switching fly rods when you’re done fishing one stream and begin on another. It was like switching from graphite to bamboo or fiberglass and slowing down the pace of things. In getting there, I adopted a slower rhythm. The Interstate noise began to fade as the forest deepened and an ovenbird called.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beyond the lean-to I could stroll a bit of the FLT, enjoying an hour in a new green world. Returning to the car, I decided to visit the trail access closer to Hornell. When I got to Webbs Crossing Road and parked the vehicle, I was close to where my parents had owned a house for a short while around 1970 as I began my college life. Back then, I had walked around the wetlands a little, but before I knew it, the folks had sold their house and bought an old farm in the Greenwood hills. This was years OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbefore the Finger Lakes Trail had adopted an old railroad bed beside the marshes of Hornell.

I’m getting to know this backyard trail, at least a tiny portion of it. I’m late to an opening of my eyes and ears to it, but that’s okay. When you reach an older age, as I have done, something tells you that maybe you should mend your broken circles if you can. The Finger Lakes Trail, the small portion of it near my home, is walkable when time allows and urges me on.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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6 Responses to Finger Lakes, A Backyard Trail

  1. Junior says:

    Two posts in two days! The leaves look like they’re coming along, so it will be nice to see some green in a few weeks when we come to visit.

    In any case, I looked at the interactive FLT map (on the FLTC’s website) after reading this post. It looks like you must have walked an unmarked access spur. The map doesn’t show a trail from the Kanakadea access point but there is a lean-to on the map that appears “off trail”–i.e. it must be the one along the access trail that you took a picture of.

    If you think of a section of trail that will be nice to walk on Saturday or Sunday (May 25 or 26), we can all go for a hike. I think Catherine might like a section with lake views, but she also expressed interest in an off-road portion. I can do research too.

    • Bob Stanton says:

      “…mend your broken circles if you can.” Exactly, Mr. Franklin. I often find myself, like you, visiting places I’ve not been to in decades perhaps, for some sort of closure ( I hesitate to use that word) or to check in on “an old friend”. Always carrying the notion that these are the places that made me, I’ll steal a cliche from a lousy Glen Frey song, “you’re a part of me, I’m a part of you”. Nice post, Walt.

      • I really like that, “checking in on an old friend,” Bob. We may have made personal connections in that world outdoors, and we need to say hello to them every once in a while. I do that with small, intimate trout streams. Thoreau used to walk miles to “check in” with a favorite old tree outside of Concord. Glen Frey– he of the obnoxious Eagles fame? That line “you’re a part…” sounds like an equally obnoxious Peter Frampton thing. But music does seem to be imbued in the healing processes of nature.


    • Junior, Unbelievable weather here. Beautiful and comfortable, lots of stuff in flower. Yeah, the access to FLT at Kanakadea is confusing, or was to me, not having walked there before. Map at parking lot is unclear. Thought I was linking up to the FLT at the lean-to, one map suggested I was, another not. Anyway, the park trail makes a circuit and somewhere on it is a link. There’s several other access points in that neighborhood. I want to try the Bald Hill walk sometime soon. Around Hammondsport there are some scenic sections, maybe with lake views, and a Letchworth-like section called Mitchellville Gorge, which I’m sure will merit a visit.


  2. Puget Keith says:

    I had never heard of the FLT but this little part looks inviting. Curious to the route I tried following it on Google Earth and discovered two other photos of the leanto. The bright blue sky with the blooming leaves leaves a nice contrast in my mind. Look forward to more.

    • Thank you Keith. The trail has to be quite evasive if trying to follow it on Google… In the area of investigation, it has many twists and turns and pavement underlays, but eastward toward the Lakes, it makes shift. I’ll be looking there before long.


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