Top Snowshoe Destinations in the Finger Lakes Region
Don’t put away your snowshoes yet! Despite winter’s lackluster performance this year, March is living up to its stormy reputation. Now’s your chance to get outside and explore this ephemeral winter wonderland before it’s gone. Regardless of your skill level, there is no shortage of places to go in the Finger Lakes region. Here are a few of our top snowshoe destinations chosen by the staff at the Finger Lakes Land Trust.
In a region dominated by out-and-back hikes, the Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area boasts not one but two separate loop hikes: the Van Lone Loop and the Bob Cameron Loop. The 5.7 mile-long Van Lone Loop shares a particularly picturesque section of the Finger Lakes Trail which follows Cayuta Creek along a mostly level route free of obstructions. The 2.6 mile-long Bob Cameron Loop lies within a deep, mostly deciduous forest with the trail crossing several seasonal streams. There are also numerous forest roads that provide an extensive trail network.
Don’t own a pair of snowshoes? Not a problem! Cumming Nature Center in Naples rents them for $5 and has a 3-mile loop just for snowshoeing. The trails here are perfect for beginners or those looking for a leisurely pace, and are patrolled by the Genesee Valley Nordic Ski Patrol. Acting as the Rochester Museum & Science Center’s “living museum,” the center is perfect for family-friendly fun.
The roughly 8-mile Abbott Loop in Danby State Forest weaves primarily through wooded glens with slow creeks and hilltop oak-hickory forests. Of particular interest along the loop is a spur trail leading to a stunning lookout at Thatcher’s Pinnacles, found along the steep western edge of the forest. From the pinnacle, you’ll find sweeping views of the Cayuga Inlet Valley and the Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve of the Finger Lakes Land Trust.
Long trails are in short supply in the Finger Lakes and Central New York. Loop trails as well. Fortunately, Highland Forest has plenty of both. The extensive network of trails—over twenty miles of hiking/snowshoeing trails—intersects numerous wooded streams and rolling terrain through a variety of deciduous and coniferous forests. Furthermore, snowshoes are available to rent at the lodge.
While the trails at many state parks are often closed in winter for safety reasons, Green Lakes is an exception. The park features an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, where visitors can snowshoe and enjoy wide-open views. For a more challenging experience, a 13-mile trail system on the western edge of Round Lake weaves through open fields and old growth forests, a rare circumstance in the northeast.
Just a short drive from Ithaca, this 241-acre preserve, which features portions of an extensive forest, rolling meadows, and wetlands, is an important connector in a larger array of some 8,000 acres of protected lands. From the north entrance, cross the boardwalk and snowshoe your way into more than 20 miles of multi-use trails at Hammond Hill State Forest. An easy meandering one-mile trail that begins from the south entrance of the preserve leads you through a meadow that encircles a beautiful evergreen plantation.
Located in the Southern Tier just north of Owego, Oakley Corners features a 13-mile multi-use trail system. All trails are color-coded and have a skill level designation: short, gentle trails for beginners, and steeper, longer trails for intermediate and advanced snowshoers. The network of trails here was built by the Triple Cities Ski Club through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adopt-A-Natural Resource program and is another great example of how public and private partnerships can make natural resources accessible.