I’ve been visiting Keuka Lake my entire life, but this is the first year I got out to hike trails. Why the change? Two reasons: 1) I stayed the whole summer so had more time; and 2) I needed to train for a 100-mile backpacking trip through Shenandoah National Park (woohoo!!).
I’m thrilled that I finally had a compelling reason to explore. The Finger Lakes region is quite stunning with rich farmland, lush vineyards, and pristine lakes sprinkled throughout its glacially carved hills and valleys. This area has always been one of my favorite places on earth and after walking serene forest paths, meeting deer and newt, and breathing in sweeping vistas, its #1 status is firmly cemented.
Though there are many trails in the region, I stuck firmly to the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) system. The main trail of the FLT runs roughly east-west for 575 miles from the the Catskills to the Pennsylvania-New York border and passes right along the southern end of Keuka Lake just 15 minutes from our cottage. Even better, the FLT system has an additional 412 miles of branch and loop trails including the Bristol Hills Branch Trail that shoots north from the FLT and parallels Keuka’s west side – perfect!
I completed nine hikes the summer of 2016 and wrote a blog post for each, complete with narrative description, photos, map, elevation profile, and links to other helpful resources. Click on the “Map” tab for a complete list of articles along with an overview map highlighting my treks.
All hikes are not created equal and I certainly had a few favorites:
- The FLT from Sand Pit Road to Newton Road, especially the area near the Pucker Bush Overlook. Fantastic views!
- The Huckleberry Bog Loop on the Bristol Hills Trail. In this write-up we parked at Two Rod Road and hiked north, but your best bet is to park at Bean Station Road and hike south to the loop. Be sure to stop at the trail register box and pick up a Nature Trail Guide to carry along. Learn about flora, fauna, and a bit of area history, then return the guide when finished. Many thanks to the FLT Conference volunteers for this engaging guide!
- The Bristol Hills Trail from Mitchellsville Road to the FLT. This trek offered nice variety and burst out of the woods four times, first at the lovely Dave Lake.
Finally, my biggest lesson learned: Take breaks. On long hikes I’ve struggled with feet that feel bruised and sore, sometimes leaving me hobbling. I’ve come to the conclusion that the pain is due to swelling and rest is key. When I sit for 5–10 minutes every hour, my feet are rejuvenated, especially when I take boots off, massage the feet, and then re-lace looser. A cold stream would be a heavenly remedy, but not always available!