at key stream crossings and built puncheons (raised trackways) over wet and muddy areas to keep your feet dry and protect the soil and plants in our damp and cool climate.
Dear Friends of the Finger Lakes Trail,
This has been an exceptional summer on the 1,000 miles of pathway that make up The Finger Lakes Trail System, including the 586 miles of the main trail that spans the southern region of New York state and the six branch trails. The main Finger Lakes Trail hosts a portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail so that hikers can continue on to either South Dakota or Vermont! The branch trails of the FLT system connect the main trail to the Appalachian Trail, the Great Eastern Trail, the Long Path (New York), the Long Trail (Vermont), and the Bruce Trail in Ontario, Canada.
This year everyone has been able to get back onto those different trails, with hiking opportunities for people with all levels of fitness and ability, from the casual family hikers who have been able to follow the Wegmans Hit The Trail Passport hikes to the most dedicated trail runners and end-to-end through hikers.
As I write, the Trail – and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference that makes it a reality – are in urgent need of your support.
Support for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference.
Although mostly a volunteer organization, the Finger Lakes Trail system relies on key staff members who keep the office open, ensure that the 1,000 miles of trail are all overseen, help to ensure that updated maps are available, and work with the 600+ private land owners and state and local agencies to ensure that we can continue to cross the many different properties and public lands that host the trail. Those staff include the Executive Director who oversees the day-to-day operations and ensures that those continue to meet state and federal requirements, Office Manager and Office Clerks who answer the phone and pay the bills, and the Trail Specialist who ensures that the trail is in good shape for all of us now and in the future, and the Communications Specialist who makes sure you, our supporters, know of upcoming work days and events.
Your support of the organization is key to ensuring that the Trail exists now and in the future.
Other support is required for the Trail infrastructure.
That includes building and maintaining bridges, getting landowner permission, mapping and building new sections of trail in the woods so the trail includes fewer road walks.
The lean-tos and camping sites need constant attention to provide hikers with places to rest and refresh along their journeys. Professional training and certification is required so that volunteer sawyers are available to clear trails after storms and blow-downs. We also host events such as the 2023 Schuyler County Hike series, the upcoming 2024 Steuben County Hike series, the Fall Festival Weekend gathering, and the FLT50 hiking challenge – which introduce people to the trail and provide rewarding social experiences.
The Finger Lakes Trail has been built, upgraded, and maintained by private donations (not taxpayer dollars) and hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer labor, yet is free to use 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Without support from friends like you, these Trails would quickly be lost again to the forests and fields of upstate New York.
In the past year we have:
in the woods and moved sections off the road which involves working with many individual landowners or even buying key pieces of land to secure the trail right-of-way so your hiking can continue uninterrupted.
to provide hikers with places to rest and refresh along their journey.
for many volunteer chain sawyers who clear trails after storms and blow- downs, as well as providing support for other volunteer training and their equipment.
that introduce people to the Trail and make it a safe and social experience.
of the diverse and growing trail user community for the future!