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Enjoy a smooth ride along the Catharine Valley Trail, a well-maintained multiuse pathway that provides a comfortable and shaded biking experience through Upstate New York. High points include entering the historical town of Montour Falls, with its incredible downtown vista featuring several striking civic buildings complemented by a waterfall backdrop, and the view as you enter the Watkins Glen marina, which is a treat.
The Catharine Valley Trail follows segments of the former Northern Central Railway and Chemung Canal towpath from Smith Road on the north end of Pine Valley to Seneca Lake, but an extension of the trail to continue the route south to Horseheads is under development. The majority of the trail is wooded, with a solidly packed crushed-limestone surface; there are a few short paved sections as you enter Montour Falls and Watkins Glen.
From the southern trailhead on Huck Finn Road near Horseheads (which shares a parking area with the Ek Birding Trail), the trail is screened from the roadway by trees and brush as it heads north, paralleling Route 14. At mile 3.3, you’ll cross the roadway on a pedestrian bridge and continue through the forest canopy and peaceful environs. A half mile after the bridge, you’ll reach Morris Hill Road and traverse Millport.
In 6 miles, you’ll reach Montour Falls, where there are trailheads at South Genesee and Cook Streets. After leaving Montour Falls, the trail skirts the Catharine Creek Wildlife Management Area. There are two restrooms spaced out along the trail and quite a few historical landmarks to be discovered.
At Decatur Street, just past Watkins Glen High School, turn right and follow the roadway to the marina, which offers an excellent view of beautiful Seneca Lake. Watkins Glen is the perfect ending to your trail journey, as it’s a lovely town and very walkable, with a harborside restaurant and many shops to browse. Watkins Glen State Park is also close at hand; its spectacular waterfalls and hiking trails make it well worth a visit.
At the southern trailhead, parking is available on Huck Finn Road (116 Huck Finn Rd, Horseheads, NY) in a lot shared with Ek Birding Trail.
Another parking option near the southern terminus is in Millport. From I-86, take Exit 52B for NY 14 N. Merge onto County Road 64, and in just a few hundred feet, turn left onto NY 14 N/Westinghouse Road. Go 1.5 miles, and turn left to remain on NY 14. Continue 6.0 miles, and turn left onto Crescent St. Travel 0.1 mile to Maple St. Turn right; in 240 feet you’ll reach a trail kiosk and limited parking at the end of Maple St.
To reach the northern terminus from I-86, take Exit 40 for NY 226 N toward Savona. Head east on NY 226/E. Lamoka Ave., and continue 13.1 miles; take a right onto CR 23. Travel 8.0 miles, then make a right turn onto CR 28. In 1.0 mile, take a left onto Bath St. Go 0.3 mile, and turn right onto NY 14/N. Madison Ave. In 0.4 mile, turn left onto First St. and then make your next left onto Decatur St., which will bring you to the large parking lot of the Watkins Glen marina.
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