Penn Yan and the Keuka Outlet Trail

16-17…Keuka in Bloom Winery Tour
Tour all eight participating wineries on the Keuka Wine Trail and return home with great wines, great recipes and 16 different flowers and herbs. Tickets are $35 per person, $50 per couple, advance sale only., 800-440-4898

18…Yates Community Center Project Golf Tournament
Hosted by Lakeside Country Club on Route 54 East Lake Road.

28…Local Artist Reception
From 6:30 to 8 p.m. Heron Hill Winery at 9301 County Road 76 in Hammondsport will host an opening review with hors d’oeuvres and discounts on wine., 800-441-4241

6-7…Barbeque at the Wineries I, Keuka Lake Wine Trail
Each of the eight wineries will feature its own barbeque dish with a special sauce, marinade or rub, all made in New York State., 800-440-4898

13-14…Keuka Arts Festival
This fine art and skilled craft show is held at the Penn Yan Boat Launch along the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail. The event is free and features live entertainment and a host of culinary delights from local restaurants. An adult-only wine court offers a selection of Finger Lakes wines.

19…Cruisin’ Night
Historic Main Street in Penn Yan will host over 200 classic and antique cars. Merchants will be offering refreshments, music and fun along with extended hours. The parade of cars begins at 6:30.
315-536-3111, 800-868-9283

4….Fly-in Breakfast
From 6 to 11:30 a.m. at the Penn Yan Flying Club clubhouse on Old Bath Road, enjoy a great breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage and beverages, plus entertainment, aircraft displays and airplane rides.

8…Concerts in the Courthouse Lawn
Starting at 6:30 p.m., enjoy Ed Clute and his Dixieland Band. Bring your chairs or blanket for seating on the lawn of the historic Yates County Court House on Main Street. In case of rain, the event will be in the adjacent Baptist Church.

8-12…Yates County Fair
One of the oldest fairs in the Empire State. Traditional activities include a demolition derby, amusement rides, kids’ games, petting farms, 4-H exhibits and various musical performers.

17-19…27th Annual Antique
Boat Show and Regatta
Join us in Hammondsport for this special event hosted by Wine Country Classic Boats. A judged show and parade will be held on Saturday with the regatta and chicken barbecue Sunday.

12…Concerts in the Courthouse Lawn
Starting at 6:30 p.m. enjoy The Big Swing Band directed by Gordon Bascom. Bring your chairs or blankets for seating on the lawn of the historic Yates County Court House on Main Street. In case of rain, the event will be in the adjacent Baptist Church.

14…Esperanza Dinner and Dance
Dine and dance to the tunes of Agonal Rhythm at the Yates Community Center Project Esperanza Dinner and Dance., 315-694-1071

22…37th Annual Antique Show and Sale
Over 100 dealers will be at the Yates County Fairgrounds from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There will be free coin appraisals/coin purchases by Tom Gleason from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

2…Twilight Tasting at Rooster Hill Vineyards, 489 Route 54 South
Comparative tasting of Pinot Noir and Lemberger from Rooster Hill and wine regions around the world. A light buffet follows.

19-20…Harvest Tour of Food and Wine
Join us in celebrating New York’s agricultural heartland. Taste the exquisite wines of Keuka Lake and sample dishes prepared from the finest locally produced foods., 800-440-4898

Outdoor Activities
Wine, water and wilderness. That’s what this area is all about. Penn Yan offers two lakeside parks with swimming, picnicking and more. Penn Yan is just 5 miles from the Keuka Lake State Park in Branchport.

Nestled in an eons-old gorge in the Finger Lakes is a delightful six-mile trail for hikers. Created on a railroad bed that was once the towpath of the Crooked Lake Canal, the wide trail is nearly flat.

The Keuka Outlet Trail follows the water flow from Keuka Lake almost to Seneca Lake. The gorge itself was once an industrial center of the state, albeit short-lived, because of harnessed waterpower. Close to 40 mills, nearly one every quarter-mile in the outlet’s industrial heyday, made the gorge a bustling area in the 1800s.

It did not matter that the outlet bed had to be moved in some places to open the controversial Crooked Lake Canal in 1833. The canal water was kept separate from outlet water so as not to fuel debates over mill water rights, and to keep the natural stream as a continual source of water. In the 1800s, land was made to conform and produce without the benefit of conservation.

The Crooked Lake Canal required expensive repairs nearly from the start. When it was sold in 1878 to recoup some of those expenses, nearby mills bought the canal blocks. The Main Street Bridge in Penn Yan is partially built from canal blocks.

Progress brought the Fall Brook railroad winding through the gorge on the towpath. The railroad brought raw goods to the mills and transported their products, as well as grapes and other agricultural goods, to Rochester, Syracuse and New York City.

Some mills provided electricity to nearby villages.

Then, nature being nature, storms reclaimed some of the towpath and the railroad was abandoned. The mills gradually faded back into the land, waterpower was replaced by electricity, and roads provided distribution as well as competition from other areas.

The once scarred gorge has returned to nature. There are still remnants of backyard garbage dumps and decaying mill foundations. The fishing is good, and bubbling waters attract people in the summer.

Yates County purchased the abandoned railroad, and volunteers converted it to a trail. Today, it is maintained by Friends of the Outlet, an all-volunteer organization that came into being to protect the gorge “from rim to rim and lake to lake.”

Friends maintain the Keuka Outlet Trail, from Cherry Street in Penn Yan to the railroad in Dresden. Village roads allow people to continue their walk to nearby Seneca Lake. Friends of the Outlet hope that someday the trail will follow the historic Crooked Lake Canal, all the way from the Penn Yan portion of the trail on Keuka Lake to Seneca Lake.

The trail is open year-round, sunrise to sunset. Hikers, bikers, horseback riders, skiers, snowmobiles and motorized wheelchairs use the trail. No cars, trucks, ATVs or four-wheelers are allowed.

There are several places to park a car for access to the trail, and Penn Yan offers all the amenities of a large town, with famous wine-tasting trails and tours nearby. The Oliver House and the Yates County Historical Office can provide a wealth of local history and information.

Summer hikers ending in Dresden can have an ice cream or a casual meal. A small museum in the house where Robert G. Ingersoll was born is open summer weekends.

A family hike or bike on the trail can be a stroll or a run and is always fun. It is as easy as a walk in the park. A picnic pavilion overlooks the Seneca Mills Falls. Bring your own water. There are four outhouses along the trail.

A general trail booklet and 17 fliers on individual mill sites – including the Crooked Lake Canal, the Penn Yan and Dresden waterfronts, and the railroad – are available from the Friends of the Outlet, Box 65, Dresden, NY 14441, 315-536-9484.

Birders: bring your binoculars. Anglers: read your New York State regulations because rules for trout fishing along the stream and near the lakes differ. Photographers: bring your cameras, and historians, your paper, pens and camera. Naturalists: bring your plant and animal identifying books. Don’t forget your water bottles, sunscreen and mosquito repellant. Dogs are allowed on a leash. The Friends organization asks that users sign in at one of the registers to help tally usage for grant applications.

The Keuka Outlet stream is not for novices. Water releases are not publicized or under the control of Friends of the Outlet. The waterway is not patrolled. Kayakers should check with groups or clubs that are familiar with the fast-flowing Keuka Outlet water for information.

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