19.28 miles, 3.1mph avg moving, 2.3mph avg overall, 6h:14m moving, 1h:59m stopped, 8h:13m total time, max elevation 2038ft, total ascent 2751ft, 142.69ft/mi. FLT M1,M2
Total trail miles completed to-date: 575.9 (97.0%)
woke well before dawn in order to prepare for my long drive to the trailhead. After making my lunch, packing drinks and snacks, I loaded my gear into my car. It was dark and cool, only in the low 50s. I set out on the long drive to Salamanca.
Nearly three hours later I pulled into the mostly empty parking lot next to the Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino. Fog draped the tall building and hid the rising sun. Only a rosy glow peeked through a break in the clouds and fog.
I pulled on my pack and started my walk along the paved drive leading out of the parking lot (mile 0.0 – 6:58 am). A short time later I arrived at the intersection with NY 417. It was actually the beginning of NY 417 as it travelled many miles to the east. Another drive led off to my left and curled up around the casino. Across the road was a large dirt and gravel area that could have been an overflow parking lot.
I made my way across the intersection and then through the parking area. The area narrowed and transitioned into a tractor path. I continued my way along the tire tracks and soon arrived at a very wet area. I carefully picked my way around the water holes and mud as best I could.
The path continued on past the wet area following a power line right-of-way. Ahead of me I could see the power lines stretching on to the west. The ATV track I was now following seemed to end. After looking around I saw that a branch curled off to my left and into the woods (mile 0.9 – 7:15 am).
Deep trenches carved the ground where the tire tread of a tractor or ATV had passed. The center was mud and clay and the undercarriages of the vehicles that had passed had dug grooves in the soft ground. I walked along the center placing my feet carefully so as not to slip into the deep trench and mud.
After a short distance the deep ruts rose up and the trail continued on as a typical logging skid. It rose and fell as it curved around through the woods. Every time it descended I came to a muddy spot which slowed me and forced me to pick my way around in many places.
Finally the trail began to curl back to the power line right-of-way and I found myself once again in the open cut (mile 1.3 – 7:27 am). An ATV trail carved its way through tall goldenrod and weeds. It climbed along beside tall metal lattice towers that carried the transmission lines. Fog settled in the cut ahead of me and the air was still. I could hear the sounds of traffic moving along on nearby I-86.
I continued along the ATV track as it rose and fell through the open cut. Wild rose bushes grew rampant along the edges of the track. Vines of some sort climbed up and swallowed small trees at the edge of the cut in many places. Flat velcro-like seed pods stuck to my clothes and pack. I paused periodically to pick them off.
After travelling a little over one-half mile the trail turned and entered the woods to the right. It wound its way through small trees and soon arrived at a small culvert that passed under I-86 (mile 2.2 – 7:52 am). The trail sat below the level of the highway, but I could see cars passing quickly to the east. I crossed the shallow creek that passed through the culvert and paused to take a few pictures looking down the pipe to the other side.
The trail then turned left and made its way away from I-86 and began to follow another power line cut. This cut was smaller as were the poles, only simple wooden ones. A short time later I arrived at Breed Run Road (mile 2.4 – 7:58 am). Across the road, fittingly, someone had tossed a pair of hiking boots over the power line where they now hung.
I turned left and followed the road south and away from the noise of I-86. The road curved to the left and soon the sounds of the highway faded behind me. After walking about one-half mile I noticed a small white sign with black lettering posted on either side of the road. The sign read, “Seneca Nation of Indians Boundary”.
A short distance after the signs I arrived at a small dirt road (mile 3.1 – 8:12 am). Another larger sign stood at the entrance indicating that I was entering Seneca Nation Territory. The white blazes directed me to turn right onto the dirt road.
As I climbed up the road I heard music playing from ahead of me. It continued to get louder as I made my way up the dirt road. A short distance later I came to an open area and saw two cars parked a little further ahead. Four young people stood by the cars, cans of beer sat on the roofs and smoke floated up from cigarettes or some other smokable. They all were dark-haired with dark skin tones; I guessed that they might be Seneca Indians.
They watched me with caution, and maybe some suspicion, as I continued up the road. As I neared, one of the kids left the cars and his friends and walked over to me. He said hello and commented that I, “wasn’t from around here”. I answered no, I was from out of the area and I was hiking. Then he asked me, “Do you know where you are?”. I quickly answered, “yes, Seneca Nation territory”.
After that he seemed to relax and reassured me that I was “cool”. He introduced himself as Cory and asked about where I was hiking. I told him I was following the white blazes which were the Finger Lakes Trail. Then he told me about the trail ahead and where it led.
As we chatted, another youth walked over. He was taller and darker skinned than Cory. I said hello and he introduced himself as Robert. Robert said little while Cory and I talked, he seemed to be “keeping an eye on me”. After chatting for a bit I shook Cory’s hand, thanked him for the information about the trail, and said my goodbyes. Cory and Robert walked back to their friends as I continued on up the dirt road.
The dirt road continued to climb up the hill. It was about the width of one car, and it appeared as though there had been some traffic on it. Tire tracks marked either side of the road and no grass or weeds grew in the middle.
Finally the road began to descend. As I continued down the road it grew steeper. At the bottom of the steep hill it met another dirt road, Gënjöh Run. I turned right onto this road which quickly led me to a well-paved road, Hatchery Road (mile 5.3 – 8:56 am).
The road curled down to my left around a pond and beaver lodge. I walked down along the shoulder of the well-built road. It appeared as though it had been designed to be heavily travelled, but grass was growing up from cracks in the pavement. I wondered at what the intent had been for the road, was there a plan to connect it to the highway or lead to some park area?
The road curved right around the pond. Wisps of fog draped the dark green hills around me. I stopped to take a few pictures of the pond and beaver lodge before continuing on. The road curled back to the left and then continued straight heading away from the pond.
A short distance later I arrived at the intersection with ASP 2 (mile 5.7 – 9:08 am). A large white sign with black lettering stood at the side of the road behind me indicating that the lands I had just left were Seneca Nation lands. It warned that by entering the lands you would be subject to the jurisdiction of the Nation.
I quickly crossed to the other side of ASP 2, a two-lane paved road with a double-yellow line down the center. After reaching the shoulder I turned right and then continued along the edge of the road. Ahead of me I could see an overpass that took I-86 over the road I was walking on. A short distance before the overpass a road joined ASP 2 on the left, Bay State Road (mile 5.9 – 9:12 am).
I turned left onto the road and continued along. A dead end sign stood to the right side and a small FLT sign just below it. A double-yellow line on the road ended just before the signs. The road curved to right and a bridge crossed over a small stream and marsh.
A short distance after crossing the stream the trail left the road angling back to the left. A small footbridge spanned a ditch and the trail climbed up a bank to a large kiosk. A large wooden sign at the top of the kiosk announced the trail as, “A.S.P Section of North Country Trail 18 mi.”
I left the road and crossed the footbridge, and with that first step off the road I entered map M1 of the Finger Lakes Trail, the last map I needed to complete. After climbing up the bank to the kiosk I stopped to look at the information displayed behind the glass (mile 6.1 – 9:19 am). Just beyond the kiosk a signpost stood indicating mileage to points both east and west on the trail.
The trail made a short jaunt through the woods and then arrived at an overgrown field. I followed the path through tall grass and between shrubs as it continued to climb. As I neared the edge of the forest at the top of the field I came to a set of unfinished stairs leading up a bank (mile 6.3 – 9:32 am). A bit of plastic caution tape was strung between two posts blocking access to the steps.
I climbed up along the side of the unfinished stairs, turned to the right at the top and then back to the left and continued up the hillside. The trail climbed steadily angling up the side of the hill. Soon I reached the top and started a gentle descent.
The trail ran straight ahead. White blazes marked the trees on my right interspersed with a few blue discs with a hiker emblem stamped on them. The gentle descent made hiking easy and I moved quickly down the trail.
A short time later I arrived at Beck Hollow Lean-to (mile 8.3 – 10:28 am). The lean-to was a bit of a mess. Someone had left a pile of sticks and small branches inside the lean-to and scattered around the site. The metal fire ring was completely full of old cinders and someone had built a new fire ring using rocks next to it. Near the second fire ring I noticed someone had crafted a chair out of branches.
I set my pack and camera down on the picnic table and set about cleaning up the area. After pulling the branches out of the lean-to I piled up all of the scattered branches and twigs. Once that was complete I set about scooping out the metal fire right with a small snow shovel. I tossed the old cinders into a pile at the base of a nearby tree.
After I had cleaned up the site I decided to explore the area. A small stream ran below the lean-to. I grabbed my camera and walked down to it. Only a few puddles of water dotted the streambed. Once I had snapped a few pictures I climbed back up to the lean-to.
I sat down at the picnic table and took a short break. After drinking some water and snacking on an energy bar I shouldered my pack and started out on the trail again. A short distance from the lean-to voices floated through the air ahead of me.
I crossed a streambed, the same stream that ran below the lean-to, and turned right around a fallen tree. Two couples were walking toward me. I stopped and said “hello”.
They asked where I had started my hike and how far I was going. I told them I had started in Salamanca and was hiking about 19 miles. They told me they were hiking about “20 kilometers”. We all paused as we did the math; around 12 miles. I realized they were “not from around here” as Cory had said to me earlier. They said they were from Ontario, Canada and that they were hiking the Conservation Trail. I wished them a good hike and continued on my way.
The trail continued on mostly level and I moved along quickly. A short time later I saw three women approaching me. I stepped to the side of the trail and they stopped to chat. The trail was busy today and I mentioned that I had just passed two couples. They said the foursome had passed them earlier when they had stopped for a break. Like the foursome, the three women were also hiking the Conservation Trail, but they were from Buffalo. I wished them a good hike and continued on once again.
Not long after meeting the three women I came to a trail junction (mile 9.0 – 11:02 am). A brown cross piece with two legs and white lettering indicated that I had come to the Conservation Loop — not to be confused with the Conservation Trail. The loop was one of many trails in Allegany State Park. I turned right and moved along quickly.
The trail began to descend and a short time later I arrived at another trail junction, and my turn around (mile 9.8 – 11:16 am) . A Passport rubbing station, which had seen better days, along with a trio of signs stood around the trail junction. It was another two miles to ASP 1, a road in Allegany State Park, but that hike would be for another day.
I took my obligatory pictures and then turned back. My plan was to stop for lunch back at Beck Hollow Lean-to. I pushed hard up the hill, breathing heavily as I reach the top, and then moved along quickly on my way back to the lean-to.
I came around the fallen tree where I had met the two couples from Canada earlier and a short time later approached Beck Hollow Lean-to (mile 11.0 – 11:42 am). The three women I had passed earlier were sitting at the picnic table eating lunch. As I made my way toward the lean-to I said “hello”. I sat down inside the lean-to and pulled out my lunch.
We chatted for a while and I learned they were teachers and they had just recently started hiking the Conservation Trail. They planned to complete the entire trail eventually, but they were not in any hurry to do so. A short time later they finished their lunch, said goodbye, and headed off on the trail.
After I finished my lunch I head off again in the same direction the women had taken. The trail climbed gently up over a hill. After cresting the top I turned to angle down along the hillside. Ahead of me I saw a tree with a knothole in it and white blazes painted around it. It made the tree look like it was saying “OH!” (mile 12.0 – 12:23 pm). I had missed it on my way up earlier as it had been behind me. The tree reminded me of one of the benefits of hiking out-and-back; you see thing you may have missed on the first pass.
After leaving the “OH!” tree I continued on down the hill and soon arrived at the set of unfinished stairs. Once again I met the three women. They had paused to take some pictures of the view from the top of the field. I joined them in taking a few photos of my own and then continued on down ahead of them.
A short time later I arrived the at the large kiosk above Bay State Road. I descended down to the road and crossed over the footbridge (mile 13.3 – 12:58 pm). Once across I turned right on the road and made my way back toward the intersection of ASP 2. A short distance before the intersection I crossed the bridge over the stream and stopped to take a few pictures.
Upon reaching the intersection I crossed the road and then turned right on my way back to Hatchery Road. The sun was attempting to break through the clouds and I could see pockets of blue in places, but the sky remained mostly clouds. As I reached Hatchery Road I looked back and saw the three women behind me just arriving at the intersection of Bay State Road and ASP 2.
I turned left onto Hatchery Road and passed the large sign indicating I was entering Seneca Nation of Indians Territory. The road curved around the marsh and beaver lodge and the sun broke free of the clouds for a few moments before being swallowed up once again.
I continued on around the marsh and up Hatchery Road to the junction of the dirt road Gënjöh Run. After turning right onto the road I came to the unnamed dirt road that led up over the hill. I turned left onto the unnamed road and began the steep climb up (mile 14.1 – 1:16 pm).
Although it was cloudy, the air was warm and I was sweating and breathing heavily as I slogged up the steep slope. I paused for a short break and a drink on my climb up the road. After finishing I began my climb once again. The road continued to climb, and climb, and climb… Finally it began to level and I could see the top.
As I reached the top and the road leveled out I heaved a sigh of relief. The climb had taken a lot out of me and I was tired. The road continue to wind its way through the woods and then began to descend. Soon I found myself descending back to the open area where I had met Cory and his friends. They were gone now. I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised, to see they had left their trash on the ground.
A short walk down the dirt road brought me to Breed Run Road (mile 16.1 – 2:00 pm). I turned left and made my way along the edge of the quiet country road. I moved along at a good pace, but my feet hurt and my legs were sore. About fifteen minutes later I arrived at the pair of boots hanging over the power line.
The trail angled off to the right and through a patch of goldenrod and wildflowers. Butterflies danced around from flower to flower. A Monarch landed briefly on one stalk of goldenrod and and I quickly snapped a picture before it flitted off once again (mile 17.0 – 2:17 pm).
I followed the path around and came to the stream that flowed through the culvert under the highway. After crossing I followed the trail through the wooded section and was soon back in the power line right-of-way. I made my way along the ATV path up and down the hills and past the tall scaffolds of the transmission lines.
The trail curved right into the woods and I picked my way through, and around, the muddy and wet areas of the old logging skid once again. A short time later I arrived at the section with the deeply carved wheel ruts. I carefully made my way along the center section and continued back into the power line right-of-way (mile 18.4 – 2:51 pm).
Ahead of me I could see the tall building of the casino rising up. A small section of blue sky broke open above me, but the sun was still hidden behind clouds. I carefully picked my way around the very wet area and found myself back on the dirt road leading to the casino.
A short time later I was back at the intersection of the drive into the casino. I quickly crossed the road; there were more cars now than there had been in the morning. I trudged along the drive heading for the parking area at the back. My feet hurt and I was ready to be done.
After passing the statues for the seven nations I saw the parking lot ahead of me. A few moments later I arrived at my car (mile 19.3 – 3:11 pm). I dropped my pack, swapped my boots and socks for sandals and bare feet, and changed my shirt. After a quick drink and snack I was ready to begin my long drive home.