Monday, April 4, 2011

Fun in the Finger Lakes - The Keuka Outlet Trail

The warmer weather and April showers today, holds the promise of spring's arrival. The green daffodil shoots peeking up in the garden second the motion. And with spring's arrival, many of our guests will be looking for outdoor activities such as hiking. Whether biking or hiking (and even cross-country skiing in the winter), the Keuka Outlet Trail is one of the best spots. This strip of land from Seneca Lake to Keuka Lake is also full of history.

In about mid-nineteenth century, two bodies of water connected the almost 300 foot drop between Seneca and Keuka Lakes. They were the waterway to power mills and the canal for boat traffic. The flow of water to both were controlled by a dam and guardhouse in Penn Yan. The outlet still carries water from one lake to the next. It was formed by a ground fault in the Tully limestone which allowed the water to run between the two lakes. When hiking or biking the trail, you'll see remnants of the many mills that benefited from the water power. There were gristmills (flour), lumber mills, tool shops, distilleries. By 1835 there were 30 to 40 mills consisting of tanneries, forges, weavers for cotton and wool cloth, and more. But, though the years manufacturing in the area declined, and the last water-turbine mill closed in 1968.

The trail was also formerly a tow-path and later a railroad was built eventually becoming part of the New York Central System. It was called the Corkscrew Railway because of its twists and turns. It operated until 1972, when the tracks were washed out by a flood from Hurricane Agnes.

Citizens convinced the town of Penn Yan to buy the property in 1981 and it has been developed and maintained since by a group called Friends of the Outlet. The lovely scenery as well as the history make it a wonderful place to hike or bike. It is 7.5 miles long, and partially paved. Trail signs and outhouses were added recently along the route. It is free and open to the public.

If you are staying with us at Sunrise Landing Bed and Breakfast, we will happily direct you to the Keuka Outlet Trail and give you more information, or contact Friends of the Finger Lakes Outlet, P.O. Box 231, Penn Yan, NY 14527.
**Thanks to Friends of the Finger Lakes Outlet - for this information


John Whitaker - The Blog Master said...

At Barbara's suggestion, my wife and I hiked this trail in early June, 2011. This is more like a walk than a hike. Since this is an old tow-path along an abandoned canal, trail is very well marked and very flat and level. The flowers were beautiful and this was a great way to spend a few hours in the late afternoon.

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