The ground was wet after a night-time rain but the kids and I decided to head out to the trail decked in water-proof boots and winter hats anyway. As we walked, I blew bubbles that my kids ran to pop. Those that escaped floated off into the road for passing vehicles to drive through. I wondered what the drivers thought of this as it was an cool October day.
The kids and I were heading up Catherine Valley Trail after leaving the car in the trail parking area at the Millport post office. Originally, I had been drawn to having the kids experience the pedestrian bridge that crosses above Route 14. I was not expecting the colorful woodland surprise at the other end of it.
Currently, the Catherine Valley Trail runs six miles from Watkins Glen to Pine Valley, with another six miles being constructed at its southern end so that the trail will terminate in Horseheads someday. I enjoy catching the trail near Frog Hollow Marina in Watkins Glen, where it cuts through the Queen Catherine Marsh and follows the Barge Canal which connects Catherine Creek to Seneca Lake. In Montour Falls, the trail cuts through the village so that one gets a grand view of Shequaga Falls, and then follows a segment of the Northern Central Railroad before heading rural again along the historic Chemung Canal towpath. Overall is an easy trail with a well-maintained, compacted stone path with plenty of width for hikers and bikers to pass each other and is handicap accesible. The kids and I have enjoyed the trail in all seasons of the year while either hiking and biking, and it is also an excellent spot for easy snow shoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.
On that October day in Millport, the well-maintained trail led behind and above the houses on the western side of Route 14. Red oaks and white pines were abundant on either side, as were gorgeously attired English oaks and sugar maples. From up above we could see Catherine Creek bubbling away and, though we weren’t too far away from the highway, it seemed peaceful and secluded. My intention was not necessarily to get very far – and I didn’t with a five- and a two-year old. It was more important to me that we got out in the fresh air and down on the ground to observe the ferns, acorns, and colorful leaves amidst the beautiful autumn scenery of the Finger Lakes Region.