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Cycling in the Finger Lakes: 6 bike trails worth exploring

New York’s Finger Lakes Region is known for its stunning scenery and countless outdoor activities. Alongside hikers and boaters, the area attracts cyclists from all over the world, and it’s easy to understand why. With more than seventy-five trails traveling through vineyards, past waterfalls, and along the lakes, the region is rich with varied landscapes and rides for all skill levels.

Once you decide to take a cycling trip around the Finger Lakes, planning and preparations are relatively simple, given the existing infrastructure and cycle-friendly destinations. One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to ride from location to location with your belongings or utilize a base, like an inn or hotel. Though both options are standard in the area and ultimately, it will depend on your group’s skill level, time of the year, and weather conditions.

If you’re planning on bringing a personal bike, it’s essential to check it over before embarking on your cycling adventure. Performing maintenance is easy to do at home with a sturdy bike stand and can save you time and money as you’re more likely to avoid breakdowns along your route. Ensure your bike is clean, inspect the tires, check that nuts and bolts are screwed in tightly, and test the brakes. If you need to schedule a more extensive repair or order a replacement part, it may affect your trip’s timing.

Once you’ve completed the preliminary steps, you can move on to the exciting part—deciding where you’ll go. Though there’s no shortage of bike trails in the Finger Lakes Region, these six offer some of the most exciting rides and scenic views.

Keuka Outlet Trail

After exploring the forty-four miles worth of routes around Keuka Lake, riders may enjoy traveling along the Keuka Outlet Trail. It’s a seven-mile journey that runs parallel to the former “Crooked Lake Canal” and connects Keuka and Seneca Lakes. This scenic and history-packed journey brings riders past waterfalls, ravines, and ruins of old mills.

Catharine Valley Trail

The Catharine Valley Trail offers a shady twelve-mile ride along a gravel path. The trail is well-maintained and made up of tightly-packed limestone, making it accessible to those still new to off-road riding. The track also follows the towpath along an old canal, allowing visitors to explore a glacier gorge, iconic waterfalls, and a beautiful marina.

Geneva Skyline Tour

Geneva is a small city nestled on the north shore of Seneca Lake. The Geneva Skyline Tour is a thirty-five-mile loop that takes cyclists through charming streets and past some of the city’s best-known attractions. Though mostly paved, the route does include some dirt paths as you leave the city to explore nearby farmland.

Cayuga Lake Trail

For those looking for more of a challenge, the Cayuga Lake Trail follows its namesake’s shore. The 101-mile loop—which typically begins and ends in Ithaca—offers waterfront views for most of the ride. Additionally, Cayuga is the longest of the Finger Lakes and is known for the surrounding wineries.

Ontario Pathways Trail

Like many trails in the region, this path started its life as a railbed. This route is a multi-use trail composed of two 11.5 mile legs from Canandaigua to Stanley and Stanley to Phelps. On it, you’ll pass through vineyards and farms, cross thirteen bridges, and ride alongside rivers and small waterfalls.

Ring Around Geneseo

As its name suggests, this route takes you through the National Historic Landmark Village of Geneseo, just south of Rochester. At six miles, it’s a short ride offering a unique and stunning landscape. This little loop is unforgettable with the town’s quintessential main street, historic buildings and water fountain, and vistas of the Genesee River Valley.

Wrapping up

Regardless of which path you take, you’ll be sure to experience scenic views, rolling landscapes, and extravagant water features as you traverse Finger Lakes and its many trails.

Categories: LifeWellness

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