Make way for diversity on the Pat McGee Trail. This 12.1-mile path boasts a diverse array of plant and animal life, with more than 150 species of bird. A variety of users, including snowmobilers and equestrians, can be seen. The trail even crosses the eastern Continental Divide, meaning that the rainfall on one end of the trail is diverted to the Atlantic Ocean and on the other end to the Gulf of Mexico.
The trail connects seven quiet communities in the heart of Cattaraugus County in southwest New York. If you begin your journey at the northern trailhead just south of Cattaraugus, be prepared for a climb. The grade is gentle but you will know you are going uphill. Not far from the trailhead is a lean-to. Snowmobile riders huddle here in winter months, and in summer it provides relief from sudden storms. The rail-trail's first several miles pass mostly through woodland, as you climb toward the eastern Continental Divide. Informational signs chronicle the wide assortment of mammals (41 species) and plants (174 species), as well as describe geological features and 9 unique ecosystems. In spring the woods abound with wildflowers. Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer and other wildlife on the trail ahead.
After passing the Continental Divide, the trail begins a slight descent and the landscape changes to wetlands. There is agricultural activity here, too, signaling the rural nature of the communities woven together by this old rail line.
In the village of Little Valley, about midway on your journey, a community recreational park has pavilions and picnic tables. Didn't pack your picnic lunch? Head a block or two into the village, where shops and eateries welcome trail visitors. A short paved section of trail leads from the park southward.
Other trails cross and branch off of the Pat McGee Trail. These trails are used by snowmobilers, hikers and equestrians. The North Country National Scenic Trail, Bicentennial Bike Trail and the Finger Lakes Trail provide additional opportunities to enjoy scenic Cattaraugus County.
The southern section of the Pat McGee Trail travels through farmland, offering wide vistas of the surrounding hills. Six railroad bridges over several streams have been restored for trail use. There are big plans and a multi-phase strategy to connect the rail-trail with Allegany State Park, Zoar Valley natural area, Erie County to the north and two reservations of the Seneca Nation of Indians. For now, the only connections are with the DEC Trail, primarily an equestrian trail, and the Finger Lakes Hiking Trail. Both trails connect to the rail-trail south of Little Valley.
The trail is named for Patricia McGee, the longtime state senator from nearby Franklinville, who championed the trail project. When the senator passed away in 2005, there was unanimous support for naming the new trail in her honor.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the northern endpoint, just south of Cattaraugus on State Route 353, turn onto Leon Road (County Road 6). The trail begins on the left side of the road. There is limited parking on the right side of the road.
To reach the southern endpoint from I-86, take the exit for New York State Route 417. Proceed east on Route 417. Turn left onto New York State Route 353, or Center Street. Just north of Salamanca, on the right side of Route 353, you will see parking and the start of the Pat McGee Trail.
For other access points, visit the Cattaraugus County website
and download the trail map.
First Trail Ride with my Rover!
Didnt know what to expect on the trail, As I have never have done a trail ride.. Was very surprised! I am 66 and this is my second year with my trike and have put over 1400 miles on it.. All on roads..
I have read about trails but never had a conveint ...
It had everything. Old bridges to cross. Hard ground, big gravel, crushed packed gravel and grass. So many challenges to test your riding skills. We went north to south and the northern end was so nice in the shade. Little Valley has a great place to ...
Northern portion would require a hybrid or mountain bike - a lot of gravel. Southern portion a hybrid would be fine. Brooks Market is 100 yards from the shelter in Little Valley for food/drinks. The colors in the fall would be great.