The title of this network of trails is misleading as it is not at all confined to the Finger Lakes region. In a nutshell, the FLT has a main trail that goes from Allegany State Park in Western New York to the Catskills in Eastern New York. It also has five north/south branch trails: the Conservation Trail from Allegany to Niagara Falls, the Letchworth Trail through Letchworth State Park, the Bristol Hills through (yes) the Bristol Hills, the Interloken Trail through the Finger Lakes National Forest, and another one further east. Although the trail is routed to hit as much public land as possible, a lot of it goes through private property where the trail builders have asked and received permission to install a hiking trail across the land. A lot of the main FLT has been certified as part of the Federally designated North Country Trail. The NCT, like the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail are nationally recognized and designated thru-trails.
Are Mountain Bikes Allowed on any sections of the FLT?
Some sections of the FLT are open to bikes, but in general, the FLT is closed unless specifically opened. Sections on private land will probably never be open to bicycles; permission to install the trail was based on asking for a hiking right-of-way. It is illegal to ride bikes on private sections of the trail and riders on private sections of the FLT are subject to criminal trespassing arrest! Besides, if a lot of bikes started using a private trail, then that section could get closed to all users by the land owner (this has happened). Thus it is not a good idea to ride on the private sections of the trail unless specific permission is received from the land owner.
In Western New York, we have secured access to sections on DEC state forest land (note this does not include Allegany SP, which is a state park). Practically speaking, this means the what is known locally as the "white trail" from Holimont down towards Little Rock City (see our Ellicottville Trails Database entry).
Additionnally, the section in Letchworth is open seasonally, specifically it is open only June-October.
Efforts by some to get all of the NCT closed to bikes also apply to getting bikes off of these sections. The section behind Holiday Valley (which was almost closed in 1998, but was saved by a massive trail maintenance effort).
What are the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and the North Country Trail Association?
The FLTC is an umbrella group of hiking clubs that sponsors this trail. Although it has its own board of directors and members, it draws a lot of its contributions from local hiking clubs, such as the Foothills Trails Club in Buffalo, the Genesee Valley Hiking Club in Rochester, and the Cayuga Trails Club in Ithaca.
The NCTA is a national umbrella group to which FLTC belongs. The NCTA policy on bicycles seeks to eventually displace bicycles from many trail sections that are currently open. Please refer to WNYMBA's NCT Action Page for more on the NCT.
How Do I Get More Info on the FLTC and NCTA and/or How Do Get More Involved?
P.O. Box 18048
Rochester, NY 14618-0048
North Country Trail Association
229 E. Main St.
Lowell, Michigan, 49331