Monday, August 30, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

We arranged to meet Dale for a day of hiking in Letchworth State Park. We got up around 8 AM and left about 9:30. It was still somewhat foggy and in the low 60's so we both dressed warmly. We rode through Black Creek to Belfast where we met the Genesee River and followed it north. We stopped for a quick breakfast at a Subway in Houghton, and met Dale at the Portageville entrance to the park. Before we went in (at $8 per vehicle), Dale said there were some old locks he had been wanting to check out nearby, so we all drove about 7 miles to where they were located near Nunda.

While everyone has heard of the Eire Canal, not so many know about the Genesee Valley Canal. It was an amazing project for the times and ran from the Erie Canal near Rochester, all the way to Olean, joining the Genesee River which flows north into Lake Ontario, with the Allegheny River which flows west into the Ohio and eventually the Mississippi. Cuba Lake was originally built to supply water for the canal, and was the largest man-made lake in the country at its completion.

When we arrived at the ruins of the historic locks we pulled out Dale's map and discovered that there was a trail from there back to Portageville. Although it was longer than we had planned to hike, almost 6 miles, we decided to go for it. Dale and I took his pickup to the other end of the trail and rode back together on the scooter to the starting point where Dianna waited. I asked him if he felt like throwing newspapers as we did so many times on our paper route in high school.

The trail followed the locks for about half a mile as they climbed, and we marveled at the design and work that went into building them in the early 1800's. When we reached the top of the locks the trail joined the right of way for the old railroad that replaced the canal, so the hike for the next four miles or so was relatively level. Along the way we stopped at a couple geocaches that were right along the trail.

We eventually reached the Genesee Gorge,

and were treated to spectacular views of the middle

and upper falls.

Not many people see the falls from the side we were on because you have to hike to get to it. We could see all the cars and people on the other side.

Just above the upper falls is the Portage Railroad Bridge. The current steel bridge, still in use today, was built in 1875 to replace a wooden bridge that was built in 1852 but burned on May 5, 1875. It is another example of amazing construction from a bygone era.

The last mile or so was more difficult as we left the railroad right of way and climbed up, over and down a ridge to where we had left the truck. According to my GPS we walked 5.71 miles, and all of us were feeling it, although I'm sure Dale was feeling it much less than Dianna and I. It was just a short tune up for his hike next weekend with Karen for him.

We drove into Portageville for ice cream before returning to where we had parked the scooter. We loaded our gear into the scooter, said our goodbyes, and rode back to Cuba, arriving about 6 PM. It was a fun day filled with pretty scenery, good exercise and good times.


  1. You went through country where another branch of my family settled--the Finnemores. Many are still living in that area. More later

  2. Wow, spectacular views of beautiful waterfalls.