The fourth part of the Bike Rochester Series differs quite a bit from the previous ones. We will be venturing on old railroad rights of way (train tracks converted to trails via Rails to Trails Programs). The biggest difference here is that these trails are not paved; they are packed dirt/grass and crushed stone (similar to parts of the unpaved canal trail). So a road bike is not recommended, however a hybrid bike will be more than comfortable and safe. This is the perfect ride to do during the Fall!
The route here samples a variety of trails: Genesee Riverway, Genesee Valley Greenway, Lehigh Valley, and Canal Trails. It includes a total of about 4.15 miles of riding on roads to connect to disjointed parts of the trails. The 40 mile loop will take us though scenic rural farmlands and forests, as well as a couple of nice small towns. [View this route in Google Earth using this .KMZ file]
Let’s begin at the city’s entrance to the west bank Genesee Riverway Trail, at Court Street. There is plenty of parking nearby. We glance at the Dinosaur BBQ, which was once the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s Rochester station. We will experience much of the LVRR’s historical footprint on our trip.
At 1.5 miles (note: distances mentioned here are based on actual distances on my bike’s odometer and may differ slightly from distances calculated on maps and elsewhere) we reach the Erie Lackawanna Bridge to the U of R, which we will be crossing on our way back.
We reach the canal and cross the bridge over it at 3.4 miles. This time, we continue under I-390. I chose to go straight, but if you bear right, as per the smiley face, you apparently can get a good view of the Fire Training Center and its burned out aircraft used for firefighting instruction.
Here’s a view of the northbound section, which ends after about 0.4 miles, but apparently provides you with a great view of the Genesee Valley Canal Aqueduct. Perhaps, eventually, this section will link to the Riverway Trail in a more pedestrian friendly manner.
The path we are now about to take was formerly the area of the Genesee Valley Canal, which ran from the Erie Canal to Mt. Morris, opening in 1840. It eventually ran all the way to Olean. It was only profitable for one year, however, and abandoned in 1878. It was later home to the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad and Pennsylvania RR. Here’s more info about the Greenway , including an excellent description (with areas to park).
We cross Brook Road at 8.5 miles.
One of the most curious sights I encountered on the trail. I rode by a group of people dressed in old time garb, and passed by a sign which I thought said “Warning: filming in progress. Use of live ammunition.” I was curious to inquire about it, but the sounds of gunshots “encouraged” me along. I later passed a horse and buggy, which was probably related to the filming.
At 11.6 miles, we cross Route 383 (Scottsville Road).
At 12.4 miles, we cross Scottsville-West Henrietta Rd.
It is about another 22 miles from here to Mt. Morris and the northern entrance to Letchworth State Park. Around there, you can connect with the Finger Lakes Trail . The Genesee Valley Greenway continues all the way South to Cuba (New York), passing through and near many small towns on the way.
Here are typical views of the Lehigh Valley Trail. The condition is even better than that of The Genesee Valley Greenway. I felt no speed restrictions on my bike due to the trail (just my physical peddling ability). Just about each 0.5 mile interval is marked. We cross above railroad tracks at 16.7 miles and over East River Road at 17.6 miles. Many of the road crossings on the Lehigh Valley Trail have areas to park your car. More about the trail here , here , and here
At 19.4 miles, we cross under W. Henrietta Road.
We enter the Town of Rush and cross E. Henrietta Road at 20.7 miles.
To understand the significance of this place, take a look at this map . The Lehigh Valley Railroad passed through here on its mainline, northwestern route to Buffalo. A side branch diverged here: north to the downtown Rochester station, which is now Dinosaur BBQ, as The North Branch. It also departed south from here to Hemlock Lake.
From here, it’s about another 5 miles to the town of Mendon, and less than 10 miles to basically the end of the trail near victor. The trail connects to the Auburn Trail before Victor.
We take the sharp turn and cross back over Plains Road to begin our journey back north. Sorry folks, we must leave our horses behind, now.
Some views of the typical conditions of the North Branch of the Lehigh Valley Trail:
At the edge of the park, we see a sign explaining the route we should take to connect with the final portion of the trail. I diverge a little from this route. Instead of taking West Henrietta farther up and taking a left on Jefferson, I turn on Bailey then ride by RIT. From what I can tell, the route I took was the less stressful one.
The sidewalk ends on Calkins, and we have no choice but to ride on the road.
We cross under I-390 and then reach W. Henrietta road at 31.2 miles. We cross it, take a right on the sidewalk as the trail signs suggest, then cross Bailey Rd, and take a left on it.
We cross over I-390 and the Erie Canal via the old Railroad bridges at 36.2 miles and end up back on the Canal Trail. If we continue straight, we can take a shortcut through the parking lots and campus of the U of R. But, we take a left, West on the Canal Trail very briefly, then north on the Riverway Trail.
We cross over the Erie Lackawanna Railroad Bridge on the north side of the U of R at 36.2 miles. The EL and LVRR ran alongside each other at what is now the University of Rochester. The EL crossed the river here to continue downtown on the West bank, while the LVRR continued on the East bank.
And now one last, perhaps more meaningful, look at the Lehigh Valley Station building. The heyday of the private passenger railroads that helped to shape our cities and history is now long gone (for now), but we can still enjoy their legacy in other ways.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t too eager about this route, but I was pleasantly surprised by how nice and serene it was. Aside from the group doing the movie shoot, I saw about 6 people on the entire trail.
Stay tuned for the final part of this series!
About Ryan Green:
Tags: bicycle path, bike path, downtown Rochester, Erie Canal, Genesee Greenway Trail, Genesee River, Genesee Riverway Trail, Genesee Valley Park, Lehigh Valley Trail, Ryan Green
This entry was posted on Monday, October 7th, 2013 at 8:28 am and is filed under Reader Submitted Stories, Rochester Destinations, Rochester Images, Transit + Infrastructure, Urban Exploration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.