What is the Genesee Valley Greenway? How long is the trail from beginning to end?

The Greenway follows the historic transportation corridor of the Genesee Valley Canal which operated in the mid 1800’s and the subsequent Pennsylvania Railroad, Rochester Branch, that connected the Erie Canal in Rochester with Hinsdale, near Olean in the Southern Tier.  This corridor was purchased by RG&E in 1966 for transmission purposes which never came to pass and was then purchased by the State of New York in 2000.  The trail makes use of the canal tow path and the rail bed and when completed will be 90 miles long and pass through 5 counties.  About 60 miles of trail are now open, mostly between Rochester and Letchworth Park.

For what activities is the trail used? Are there restrictions?

The Greenway is used for hiking, bicycling, horse back riding, birding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.  Other motorized vehicles such as four wheelers are not allowed.  The surface is mainly dirt, cinders and grass so off road and hybrid bicycles are excellent for the trail.  Road bikes will work with tires that are at least 32 mm in width.   The trail is also used to access the Genesee River and trout streams for fishing and hunters also make use of the trail to reach hunting sites.  However, loaded guns are not allowed on the Greenway and shooting is not allowed from or across the trail.

What are some of the highlights along the trail?

The trail passes through very scenic areas of western NY, including Letchworth State Park.  It follows the Genesee River for many miles and in a recent survey the Greenway was voted the most scenic spot in Livingston County along Rts. 5 & 20.  Canal and railroad era stone locks, culverts and some buildings as well as remains of the canal prism (ditch) are found along the Greenway.  The double arch culvert and lock #2 in Chili, near Rochester are quite unique and there is also a fleet of locks in the Oakland area between Nunda and Letchworth Park along Rt. 436.  Interpretive signs richly illustrate these features.   Historic inns and restaurants such as the Yard of Ale and the National Hotel are also found along the Greenway.

How is the trail developed, managed and maintained?

As noted earlier the State of NY owns the Greenway.  DEC, OPRHP, and the Friends share responsibility for the Greenway through a Partnership formed under a Cooperative Agreement and decisions affecting the Greenway are made jointly.  DEC and OPRHP have major responsibility for development activities, mow the trail at least twice each year, work to keep the trail cut back to a 12’ width,  and do major repairs such as culvert wash outs. 

The Friends work to secure grant monies for development of the Greenway and have brought more than 4 million dollars to the project.  We also promote the Greenway through publishing newsletters, producing the brochure/map, maintaining the web site, holding events, having booths at outdoor events, and doing radio/TV interviews.   The Friends sponsors trail work days and also have trail adopters that help maintain the Greenway.   Adopters vary from snowmobile clubs, to Boy Scout troops, to individual families.

What trails connect to the Greenway and where do they connect?

In Rochester the Greenway connects with the Erie Canal Trail and the Riverway Trail.  A little south of Scottsville, the trail meets the Lehigh Trail and in Letchworth and south of Portageville, the Greenway and the Finger Lakes Trail coincide.  For about a mile in this area they are also both part of the North Country Scenic Trail. Because of its length and location, the GVG is the backbone of the Region's trail system.

Is there a place where people can access a map?

A map may be downloaded from the web site  Brochure/maps are also usually available at area bike shops and tourist stops.  One may also be obtained by contacting the Friends through the web site or by calling our office at 585-658-2569 and leaving your mailing address.  Our supply at the moment is limited but the map is being updated and we should have a good supply in the near future.

How would you describe the Friends?  What kinds of people are involved? 

The Friends is a not-for-profit 501( c ) 3 membership organization formed in 1993.  We are a completely volunteer group with the board and members coming from a wide variety of backgrounds.  One thing our members have in common is probably love of the outdoors and respect for the environment.  Many of our members are also members of user groups such as bicycle, hiking, or snowmobile clubs.

How does one become a member of the Friends and how much does it cost to join?

Membership forms may be downloaded from the web site and also are available in issues of the Greenway News.  The basic Individual membership is $20 and the Family is $25.  Of course we always appreciate memberships at higher levels and additional donations.

How can I become involved to help maintain or expand the trail? Are there other roles people can play if they love green space yet are not athletically inclined?

Volunteers may become trail adopters, help with trail work days, or they can help with things like newsletters, photography, historic research, mailings or perhaps other office work, depending on skills.  There is a Volunteer Form that can be filled out and sent electronically from the web site.

How do people contact the Friends?

Through the web site, call the office at 585-476-2354, or mail us at PO Box 42 Mt. Morris, NY 14510