by Edie Jodz, gofingerlakes.org
Dogs make great hiking companions and can bring tremendous joy to your outdoor adventures, but not all trails are dog-friendly.
Fortunately, the Finger Lakes Region offers plenty of places to get outside with your canine friends. Here are a few of our favorites, from locations with firm leash policies to places where your furry friends have a bit more freedom. Whether on or off leash, please be sure your dog is under your control at all times.
1. Wesley Hill Nature Preserve
The Finger Lakes Land Trust’s Wesley Hill Preserve has a 5.6-mile trail system which winds past several gullies, diverse stands of mature forest, and a pond. Perfect for exploring, the preserve is home to the immense Briggs Gully and features sweeping views of the hills surrounding Honeoye Lake’s southern end. Dogs must be under their owner’s control at all times.
2. Morgan Hill State Forest
Morgan Hill is a popular spot for Syracuse and Cortland-area hikers looking for some solitude. Dogs are welcome off-leash to explore over 22 miles of marked foot trails and public forest access roads. The trails at Morgan Hill cross seasonal streams, pass through a mixture of deciduous and conifer forests, and extend to the North Country Trail—a 4,600-mile trail that traverses seven states and connects North Dakota to New York.
3. Erwin Wildlife Management Area
Five miles west of Corning, the Erwin Wildlife Management Area features over 2,490 acres and more than ten miles of trails. Dogs are free to roam deep gullies with hemlock-shaded streams, deciduous forests, and several small ponds. Similar to state forests, wildlife management areas do not require dogs to be on a leash as long as they are under their owner’s control.
4. Sampson State Park
Full of military history from World War II and the Korean War, what really shines at Sampson State Park for outdoor enthusiasts is the three and half mile long Lake Trail, much of which follows the shore of Seneca Lake. Here, the access road between the village of Willard and the state park has been designated as a trail and follows within feet of the extraordinarily deep lake. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
5. Keuka Outlet Trail
The Keuka Lake Outlet Trail follows a generally downhill course from the outlet of Keuka Lake in Penn Yan to the inlet along Seneca Lake in Dresden. Along sections of the trail are the remains of old mill buildings and locks, lush woodlands, and two impressive waterfalls. A winding stream accompanies hikers, runners, bikers and even equestrians along the 6.8-mile route. Dogs should be kept on a leash and under their owner’s control at all times.
6. Danby State Forest
A favorite spot for Ithaca-area hikers, Danby State Forest has 7,337 acres and over 19 miles of trails including two lean-tos and a section of the Finger Lakes Trail. The forest’s popular 8-mile Abbott Loop features a stunning lookout at Thatcher’s Pinnacles, where you’ll find sweeping views of the Cayuga Inlet Valley and the Finger Lakes Land Trust’s Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve. Dogs are free to explore this state forest off-leash.
To view a helpful map, see the printed version of this issue.
Call 800-344-0559 to get your copy.
A reminder to recreation enthusiasts that many parks, forests, and nature preserves allow hunting and trapping in designated periods. Each location profile on Go Finger Lakes includes a link to the managing organization – whether it be the Finger Lakes Land Trust, a New York State agency, or a nature center – and visitors should consult that agency for hunting information before each outing.
See our hunting safety guidelines.