Snowmobile trails at Letchworth State Park offer more than 25 miles of trail passing through some of the most beautiful scenery in Wyoming and Livingston Counties. The corridor trail (C3) extends through most of the length of this 17-mile-long park. Entering the park in the North from the Genesee Valley Greenway, the corridor trail follows along the main park road.
Between the Perry and Castile entrances, the trail is the main park road. This stretch of the corridor gives riders spectacular views of park gorge overlooks not seen by many patrons during the winter months. On the corridor, south of the Castile entrance, riders can view the iconic Archery Field Overlook of the Genesee River Gorge. Continuing south, the corridor trail passes by the Humphrey Nature Center and Trailside Lodge where it then traverses the mature oak-hemlock forests of the park.
Riding at night requires a Genesee Region night time snowmobile riding permit. For more information regarding snowmobiling, winter accommodations, trail conditions, and permits online or call the Letchworth State Park Visitor Center at (585) 493-3600.
State Parks reminds all snowmobilers that their machines must be registered and insured to enjoy the trails in Letchworth State Park and the over 10,000 miles of additional trails throughout the state. The bulk of the registration fees is directed to the many volunteer-run snowmobile clubs across the state for trail development and maintenance. For information on joining a snowmobile club, visit New York State Snowmobile Association.
To help ensure a safe and enjoyable season, OPRHP offers the following tips:
– Young riders are required to attend a snowmobile safety course, but all riders can benefit from safety education. State Parks maintains a list of snowmobiling safety classes, check for course availability and age requirements.
– Use caution while traveling across frozen waterways. Check local ice conditions (ice should be at least 5” thick,) carry or wear a flotation device and self-rescue picks, limit travel at night, and “if you don’t know, don’t go.”
– Use the buddy system, leave a travel plan, and emergency contact information with someone at home.
– Wear proper clothing and remember that helmet use is required whenever operating a snowmobile. Using of a rigid chest and back protector is also recommended.
Grafton Lakes State Park is another great place to go snowmobiling. Grafton Trail Blazers will be offering free snowmobile rides during WinterFest, January 27, 2018.
Post by Bennett Campbell and Doug Kelly, State Parks
Don’t let the snow deter you from exploring State Parks – just grab or borrow a pair of snowshoes and head out to the trail. Go snowshoeing on a trail in a nearby park or try one of State Park staff’s favorite snowshoeing spots.
In western New York, Tina’s favorite snowshoeing spot is at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park located on Lake Ontario in northern Niagara County in Wilson. This is where you will find the Red interpretive trail nestled along the east branch of Twelve Mile Creek. As you snowshoe through the changing landscapes, you’ll pass through successional fields, marshland, and finally through a mature forest of old growth beech and hemlock trees. Keep your ears open for calls of the pileated woodpecker.
At Allegany State Park in Salamanca, Adele recommends the Bear Paw Trail located across the road from the Art Roscoe cross-country ski area on the Red House side of the Park. Bear Paw Trail is the newest trail built for the snowshoeing enthusiast. The 2.4-mile long, easy to moderate trail has 15 interpretative sights and runs along the ridge above Salamanca to historic Stone Tower. The trail loops through large stands of Black cherry and White ash trees. Look for small secret plants such as wintergreen and princess pines along the trail. Each Monday evening in January and February, the park offers sunset snowshoe hikes. The Environmental Education Department has a few pairs of snowshoes to borrow during programs.
In central New York, Katie’s favorite part about snowshoeing is how the landscape constantly changes during the winter. Even if you snowshoe at your favorite local park, in her case Clark Reservation State Park in Jamesville, everything looks different in the winter.
After the leaves fall off the trees, you can see so much farther into the woods. You will be snowshoeing along at Clark Reservation, and suddenly notice that the ground drops away not far from the edge of the trail into a steep ravine. You might never notice the ravine in the summer because rich greenery hides it from view. Winter’s arrival reveals forests secrets. Soon though, they are covered up again, this time with ever changing blankets of snow. Nature’s snow sculptures change daily, so you really need to hit the trails often so you don’t miss out!
About once a year, the park gets special permission to host a moonlit snowshoe hike it’s amazing how bright the forest is with the light from a full moon reflecting off the snow. You can even see your shadow! Keep your eyes on the calendar to find out when this year’s Moonlight Snowshoe Hike will be, or come out on your own any day to check out this special place.
At the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center at Wellesley Island State Park, Thousand Islands, Molly notes that there are four trails open to snowshoeing. Probably the most heavily snowshoed trail is North Field Loop. Only a half mile long, it meanders through a forest full of white pine trees, passes through a seasonal wetland, and into a forest of towering red oak trees. School groups explore this trail on snowshoes and the nature center staff lead moonlight snowshoe hikes on the trail throughout the winter months. There is nothing prettier than snow covered woods on a moonlit night. The park has both children and adult snowshoes available for rent for $3 a pair.
In the Capital Region, Liz at Grafton Lakes State Park suggests the Shaver Pond trail loop. Just under two miles, it offers picturesque views of Shaver Pond, with a trail winding through forest of hemlock and maple trees over easy terrain. Inquisitive visitors may see mink or fox tracks along the way. Trail maps are for sale & snowshoe rentals are available at park office on a first-come, first served basis for $5 for four hours.
At Moreau Lake State Park, Rebecca mentions that the park has 30 miles of trails and there are new places to explore as the seasons change. The parks offers snowshoe hikes and classes for all ability levels, including first timers. The park also has snowshoes available for rent to hikers or people who want to go out and try it on their own for $5 for a half day and $10 for a full day rental.
At Thacher State Park, the Fred Schroeder Memorial Trail is one of Nancy’s favorite snowshoe walks. This three mile loop in the wilder northern part of the park takes you through beautiful woodlands of mixed hardwoods with stands of spruce and hemlock trees and across a couple of open fields, without much elevation change. Midway on the loop, you can take in the scenic snow-covered views from the cliff edge at High Point. Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center rents snowshoes to the public.
In the Hudson Valley, Kris at Fahnestock Winter Park mentions two unique snowshoeing trails. If you’re looking for more rugged terrain, and challenging descents, “Appalachian Way” treks along a ridge line to a stunning overlook of Canopus Lake. The trail “Ojigwan Path” offers the beginner and intermediate snowshoer a snaking walk through hemlock groves and strands of mountain laurel. Both routes take around 2.5 hours to complete. Snowshoe rentals are located in the newly renovated winter park lodge, where you can also warm up with a cup of delicious chili!
Laura D. recommends a snowshoeing trail that will lead you to expansive cliff top vistas, through the globally rare dwarf pitch pine barrens, and around the glacially carved Lake Maratanza. The Loop Road at the Sam’s Point Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve is the perfect trail for viewing these breathtaking vistas. While on the three-mile Loop Road, stop at the Sam’s Point Overlook, where on a clear day, you can see four states! Snowshoe rentals are available at the Sam’s Point Visitor Center for $15 per adult and $14 per junior (17 years and under) for the day or $5 to join a public program.
A novice snowshoer will find the modest Mossy Glen Footpath loop just right for a snowshoe trip.at Minnewaska State Park Preserve notes Laura C. This approximately four-mile route follows the Mossy Glen Footpath as it hugs the edge of the scenic Peter’s Kill stream, winding through quiet forests. At the end of this Footpath, take the Blueberry Run Footpath to the Lower Awosting Carriage Road back to your starting point. This loop begins at the Awosting Parking Lot.
These are just a sampling of the many trails you can explore on snowshoes . We hope to see you out on the snowshoe trail this winter.
You may not see any snow when you look out the window right now, but winter is here and now is the time to think about all of the outdoor activities it brings. One of the best ways to experience New York State’s natural winter beauty is on a snowmobile, exploring the snowmobile trail system that crisscrosses 45 counties through woods, fields, towns and our State Parks. Snowmobiling is a fun, family-friendly way to enjoy winter scenery and wildlife, especially for those people with disabilities who are unable to do strenuous activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
With over 10,000 miles of public trails, there’s something for everyone to enjoy from local loops to weekend getaways. Many of our parks have trails connecting to the statewide trail system. And some parks, like Allegany State Park, have not only over 60 miles of groomed trails but also winterized cabins that are open year-round for a warm winter weekend retreat.
The New York State Parks Snowmobile Unit has a few tips to make sure you return from your trips safely and are ready to ride again another day:
-Attend a New York State Snowmobile Safety Course. Adults are not required to take a course but it’s recommended that everyone take one, regardless of experience or age. Requirements and a list of upcoming courses are available here.
-Always ride with a buddy, and always leave a travel plan including a return time with someone at home.
-Never drink and ride. Alcohol effects reaction time and judgement.
-Wear a helmet any time you’re operating a snowmobile, no matter how short the trip.
-Ride as conditions allow and within your ability. Slow down at night and when weather such as falling snow reduces sight distance. Check local conditions before crossing frozen bodies of water to ensure the ice is thick enough to ride. Always obey posted speed limits and local regulations.
-The safest place to ride is on the trail. New York State snowmobile trails are maintained by dedicated club volunteers, and deep or drifting snow off the trail may hide dangerous hazards. In addition, the majority of trails are actually located on private property with the permission of the property owner, and trespassing can close trails permanently for everyone.
If you’re new to the sport, or have never been on a snowmobile before, the New York State Snowmobile Association is teaming up with New York State Parks to offer Take a Friend Snowmobiling events where you can learn more and take a free snowmobile ride, conditions permitting. An event is scheduled at Grafton Lakes State Park during the annual Winter Fest on January 26, 2019. Necessary equipment will be provided; participants are urged to dress appropriately for outdoor weather conditions. More Take a Friend Snowmobile events can be found at the Snowmobile Association website.
As the northeast transitions from fall to winter, watch for changes in Parks lakes and ponds nearest you. You might notice that the water churns more than it did during the summer, or you might even notice ice beginning to form at the surface. Such phenomena can mean exciting happenings deeper in the water. One of the most fascinating changes to observe is lake-turnover, or the mixing of cool and warm waters.
Lakes that turn over twice a year are known as “dimictic”: di=twice, mictic= mixing. They are one of the most common types of lakes on Earth. Dimictic lakes freeze in the winter and melt completely by summer. These lakes mix during the spring and fall, after ice melts and before ice forms. Examples of dimictic lakes are seen across New York State, including Shaver Pond in Grafton Lakes State Park, Moreau Lake of Moreau Lake State Park, Lake George of the Adirondack region, and Lake Erie.
Without turnover, aquatic life in different areas of a lake may not have enough oxygen or nutrients to thrive. Calm waters tend to separate into layers – with denser, “heavier” waters sinking below less dense surface waters, creating an invisible boundary through which oxygen and nutrients cannot pass. Water is most dense 4 degrees Celsius above freezing (4 OC, or 39OF) and becomes less dense as it cools or warms from this point. In the summer, this means warmer water is at the surface, closer to the air and thus richer in oxygen for fish. Meanwhile a layer of cooler, 4oC water settles at the bottom – where many nutrients accumulate, but also where decomposition of dead animals and plants can lead to little to no oxygen in the water.
As chilly, windy fall weather kicks in, some of the oxygen-rich surface water can cool, sink into the lower levels of the lake, and push the deeper, nutrient-rich waters up closer to the surface. The result is a well-mixed habitat for fish. In dimictic lakes, this turnover happens again in the spring, when the surface ice melts to that heavier, 4oC water and mixes into the deeper waters.
Why are some lakes dimictic and others not? One reason is lake location — dimictic lakes are more common in temperate regions with warm summers and cold winters, where lakes may freeze over completely. Another factor is lake size. Two lakes that are famous for not having complete mixing are Round Pond and Green Lake in Green Lakes State Park. These are the rare “meromictic” (mero=part) lakes which mix in the upper waters but are too deep to allow surface and bottom waters to mix. Alternatively, some lakes may be so shallow that they mix frequently (“polymictic”). NY Natural Heritage Program describes 7 different types of lakes in the state.
Seasonal turnover is important for lake recreation as well as for fish and plant life within lakes. Fishing can improve near the end of mixing periods in lakes that experience turnover, since now oxygen and nutrients will be better distributed throughout the water. Many fish and aquatic life are sensitive to changes in their habitat – oxygen and nutrient levels, as well as temperature changes. Keeping an eye on the changes in the water is useful to biologists and park enjoyers alike.
Post by Erin Lennon, State Parks Water Quality Unit.
Have you ever wondered what makes the leaves change color in the fall? Or why some years are more vibrant than others? It is quite a fascinating phenomenon, and it all starts with the seasonal temperature and day light hour change. In the fall, the days become shorter and the evenings become cooler. This is what triggers deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in the winter) to begin their process of preparation for the winter months to come. This is also why the foliage changes color around the same time every year.
It starts with the expansion of the abscission layer between the stem and leaf, which slowly blocks the movement of water and sugar back and forth between the leaf and stem. This causes the leaf to lose the ability or resources to replenish chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green coloration. The chlorophyll rapidly breaks down and we are left with xanthophylls andcarotenoids, which are responsible for the yellow and orange pigments you see on trees like aspen and birch. These pigments are usually present in the leaf throughout the growing season but are masked by the green pigment of the chlorophyll. Anthocyanins are responsible for red and purple coloration and are created by the buildup of sugars trapped in the leaf. As fall progresses into winter all of the other pigments break down, as the chlorophyll did, and the only pigment that remains are the tannins, which are responsible for the brown color of the fallen leaves – though some trees retain their brown leaves throughout the winter, such as oak and beech.
Sassafras leaves changing color in Ganondagan State Historic Site. Xanthophylls and carotenoids are what make up the yellow and orange colors respectively and anthocyanins are responsible for the pink color seen in these leaves. Photo by Tom Hughes.
Oak leaves turning brown on the forest floor in Thacher State Park. Tannins are responsible for the brown color observed on the oak leaves under this Jefferson’s Salamander. Photo by Lilly Schelling.
Factors that affect the color and duration of fall foliage are temperature, sunlight and moisture. Ideal conditions for colorful fall foliage are a good growing season followed by dry, warm, sunny days and cool nights. If there was stress in the growing season, such as a drought or flood, the abscission layer may form early and the leaves will fall off before changing color. Additionally, too low of temperatures (freezing) in the beginning of fall will rapidly break down the products responsible for bright colors and the only pigment left will be brown. Other factors that can affect colorful fall foliage are heavy rain and windy storms, as these conditions will cause the leaves to fall.
When you are out admiring the fall colors this year, try to identify which pigment products are responsible for the colors you are seeing on the trees. A great way to view the fall foliage is from a canoe or kayak, but remember to wear your personal floatation device as the water will be chilly! The New York Fall Foliage Report is a great tool for tracking the color changes across the state: http://www.iloveny.com/seasons/fall/foliage-report/#.VgQGwstVhBd.