I’m always on the lookout for new trails I haven’t heard of yet. Just recently I stumbled across a gem called the SENECA TRAIL running 12 miles, one-way, all on trail just southeast of Rochester… How had I missed this?
So, last weekend (Saturday, August 11th) I filled up my hydration day pack and went for a 24 mile trail run. Soloed the whole thing – out and back – in just under 7 hours (6:45). And this run only reinforced for me that we make our own adventures… ones that are often just right outside our door.
I love long-distance solo pack-running. Self-contained, self-sufficient, no water stations, no cheering crowds, no pacer runners, no medical team, no finish line or post-race feast… just you, a map, the trail, and your own mental and physical ability. It is both unbelievably rewarding in its sense-of-accomplishment, and unbelievably challenging physically (running with ~15 pounds of hydration/nutrition/etc) and in terms of its mental aspects and demands for self-reliance and trail knowledge. I hadn’t undertaken a long solo in months so I was itching to get out – and the idea of exploring an entire unknown (to me) trail system was too much to resist.
The red-blazed SENECA TRAIL is exactly that, a portion of a historical footpath established by the Seneca Indians running from the Finger Lakes up to Lake Ontario. I got a fairly early start, parking behind the Valentown Historical Society building near Eastview Mall and hitting the trail around 6:30am. The entrance is right near Valentown down a gravel access road by the traffic light. There’s a small path ducking into the woods at the end of the gravel drive… that’s where it starts.
The first several miles were mostly grass path running behind strip malls and along the edges of farm fields. Not necessarily my cup of tea (I HATE grass running – sucks energy from your momentum and is impossible to read the terrain under the grass), but there were several beautiful, sweeping views of the surrounding area (like the sunrise pic below) as you gain some of the highest elevations of the run. (The entire run, by the way, is somewhere around 2400′ of elevation change. See elevation profile – from the VHT website – at the end of this report.)
As the trail crosses Route 96 and you head into and through Victor the trail becomes more and more singletrack. Beautiful singletrack. Which is what I live for… Rooty and rocky enough to keep you on your toes, but flowy enough to let you hit a good stride. Really enjoyable! A good portion of this section runs through damp/marshy drainage areas – so there are a considerable number of boardwalks (pic below) back through these sections. Props to the VICTOR HIKING TRAILS organization for the amazing trail maintenance they keep up with on this trail system! I was VERY impressed!
From Victor, the trail continues to drop South through the Dryer Road and Ganondaga area trails – absolutely beautiful, deep-woods single track (pic below). I will definitely be going back and running this section quite a bit from here on out. Thoroughly enjoyable – and since it links up with all the Dryer Road trails – endless loop possibilities! I did get a bit lost towards the end of Ganondaga section, but not for too long. The paper directions from VHT’s website were great, but some of the trail markings in this area were hard to follow.
South of this area the trail continues South all the way towards East Bloomfield through alternating sections of rolling singletrack and grasstrack along farm fields before ending up at Boughton Road Park. I took a short break at Boughton Park, 12 miles in, and than headed back North to return back to my starting point.
I was very impressed by my Seneca Trail experience! Again, the work that Victor Hiking Trails does to keep this trail intact is pretty incredible! The variety of terrain and landscapes I passed through while running were pretty cool and I saw lots of wildlife which I always love. Lots of white-tailed deer, wood grouse, and red-tailed hawks to name a few…
Victor Hiking Trails maintains great trail information and an interactive map on their website – if you’re going to try out the Seneca Trail I would definitely recommend reading through it all before heading out – and if you’re in the Rochester region you should DEFINITELY check out the Seneca Trail!