Make Tracks on a New Trail

by Sue Freeman

The former railway corridor is cleared and three new bridges span the West River. This winter, while snow blankets the countryside in a veil of white, head south to the east side of Canandaigua Lake, and make tracks on the region’s newest trail.

The Robert E. Moody Trail follows the former Lehigh Valley Railroad corridor for 1.1 miles from the Village of Rushville (Route 247) to Blodgett Road in Gorham. Parking and kiosks can be found at each trailhead. The 2.2-mile round-trip on flat terrain makes a perfect route for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Be among the first to leave your tracks on this new trail.

Just be sure to go while the snow abounds. In the spring, the trail will close for a while as the Gorham Highway Department adds a final coat of stone dust. Then there will be an official trail opening event, welcoming all to this new rail-trail.

The Moody Trail has been several years in the making and is a labor of love. Land was donated to the town of Gorham by the Moody family. The Gorham Highway Department and students from the conservation department at Finger Lakes Community College worked tirelessly to clear the former railroad corridor. This past summer, three bridges were built, thanks to many sources of help, including grants from the Environmental Protection Fund, Coca-Cola Corporation, Rails to Trails Conservancy, pro bono engineering and design services, donated steel beams from the county highway department, volunteer labor from residents and community college students, and technical assistance from Parks & Trails New York through the Healthy Trails, Healthy People program. It takes more than a village to raise a trail!

The West River that this trail crosses three times may sound familiar to you. It drains the highlands between Seneca and Canandaigua Lakes and sweeps south to merge with Naples Creek and feed into Canandaigua Lake through the Hi Tor Wildlife Management Area. This is an outdoor lover’s playground. Tributaries into the West River offer us waterfalls to explore and trails to hike along Conklin Gully and Clark Gully. Hi Tor itself has rugged trails for biking, hiking and skiing. The West River Marsh at the south end of Canandaigua Lake offers some of the areas finest paddling opportunities- of course, those are limited in winter.

If you’re looking for another trail near the Moody Trail to explore on skis or snowshoes, try Bare Hill. But, be forewarned. As the name implies, this trail isn’t flat. From Route 364 on the east side of Canandaigua Lake, turn west onto Town Line Road, then south on Bare Hill Road. With a final west turn onto Van Epps Road, at the end you’ll find Bare Hill Unique Area. A 3.1-mile loop trail will take you to the top of a hill used for centuries by the Seneca Indians, which offers a spectacular view overlooking Canandaigua Lake. Winter is an especially good time to enjoy the expansive view – as long as you dress warmly. A map for Bare Hill and many other area trails can be found in the guidebook “Take A Hike – Family Walks in New York’s Finger Lakes Region, available at or call 1-800-431-1579.

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