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Though mostly a continuous system of trails from Sherman north to Brocton, some segments of the Chautauqua Rails-to-Trails system go by other names (see below). All the trails are primarily grassy but some portions are gravel or crushed stone. As the experience can be challenging in some areas, mountain bikes are recommended.
The scenic Chautauqua Rails-to-Trails travel through woodlands, wetlands and meadows, where wildflowers abound in spring and wildlife year-round, including beaver, turkey and deer. In winter the trail is popular with both cross-country skiers and snowmobilers; however, the trailhead parking lots are not plowed, so users must park along side roads.
The trail has two on-road portions, which skirt part of a rail bed: 1.47 miles along Hannum and Summerdale roads (west of Lake Chautauqua); 0.92 mile along Titus and Kendrick roads (near the southern terminus in Sherman). In addition, there's a short break in the trail north of Colt Road (near Brocton), and the trail picks up again at Ellicott Road.
The different segments of the Chautauqua Rails-to-Trails are as follows:
The Alison Wells Ney segment runs between Fuller Street in Brocton and Bliss Road. The Laurie Baer segment travels along a Niagara Mohawk right of way between Bliss and Plank roads, crossing an original railroad bridge.
The Nadine and Paul Webb Nature Trail extends 1 mile between State Routes 430 and 394. The pleasant trail passes through a wooded area and scattered farmland, ending at the Mayville lakefront at the northern end of Chautauqua Lake. Begin at Boxcar Barney's, a local ice cream and hot dog emporium. This portion also crosses an original railroad bridge. A short segment at the southern terminus in Sherman is locally called the Sherman Village–French Creek Nature Trail.
The Portage Trail takes off from the rail-trail at the north end of Lake Chautauqua and heads northwest at a diagonal to Quillan Road, 3.86 miles. The trail was used by Native Americans to carry their canoes from Lake Erie to Lake Chautauqua. Later, French trappers buried lead plates along the route and to Pittsburgh. Next, the railroad came followed by a trolley line.
You can access the Chautauqua Rails-to-Trails at several places along its route. In Sherman, park off Franklin Street just south of E. Main Street. There is minimal parking along Titus and Hannum roads. The Diggs trailhead is on Bentley Road, 100 yards from Hannum Road.
You can also park in Mayville at the depot at SR 394/S. Erie/Water streets. In Brocton, the trailhead is at Prospect Station Road, though the trail begins at Bliss Road. Between Brocton and Mayville, you can park near Lawson and Prospect roads; Fish/Barnes at Prospect Station; at Colt and Thayer roads; and at Village DPW Garages on Highland Avenue in Brocton.
The trail is as described. Mostly grassy and crushed stone. It gets technical in a few spots with some Loose gravel or soggy spots. I rode 29 inch 2.1 width tires on my bike and it was pretty Much ideal. Any narrower of a tire and it probably would not have been enough. If you're an adventurous, experienced rider, you will love this trail. If you're looking for a pleasure cruise, I'd recommend looking elsewhere. If you're looking for fun and effort, The trail quality is definitely 5 star in my Mind. The markings could use a little help. I started in Sherman and rode end to end. I lost the trail several times due to lack of signage. I also accidentally and unintentionally trespassed onto an angry farmer's property. I give the trail markings three stars.
Rode my mountain bike from a friend's place in Mayville to Sherman & back on 5.27.17 for a total of 25 miles. The trail was a little soggy from the rain the few days prior but overall not real bad. Pros: incredible scenery, lots of wildlife, easy trail to travel (with the appropriate bike). Cons: Could use better signage in a few spots. For example, when coming out of the path onto Hannum Rd. (like the signage at Titus that gives specific directions to make a right on Titus, then left on Kendrick, etc.), got a little confused where there was a split just before Lyons Rd. & was afraid I was taking the wrong trail through someone's back yard. Also, there's another trail off of Sunnydale that's right before the CHQ R-T. Not sure if it's part of the same system as it looks like it intersects CHQ R-T further on in the woods but I didn't explore, again, for fear I would be traveling on private property. Overall I had a great experience & will most likely ride it again. I recommend this path for anyone looking for a great ride through some beautiful country. I suggest taking a good look at the map first though.
We rode from Mayville to Sherman on monday. The trip was about 20miles round trip snowmobile trial and some roads. Great ride for mountian bike.
We rode from brocton end of the trail down to the lake. trail is all grass and dirt. bike trails is also used for snowmobile trail. Nice ride for riders looking for a good trail but also kinda off road.
We rode from the lake in Mayville along the trail for a few mile, then bailed. Was on Hybrid bikes. It was literally dirt. Not even gravel. Dirt and grass. Rough and bouncy. Would make an awesome Snowmobile trail in the Winter!
We ended up biking through the town of Mayville which is historic.
Then we continued along route 394 from Mayville to Stow and took the ferry (seasonal) across the lake to Bemus Point. There is a bike lane on the side of Route 394.
We stayed at Webb's Motel/Resort in Mayville, located on 394. They were very accommodating in storing our bikes, though the town seems very safe anyhow!
Rode from Sherman to Mayville on July 24, 2014. Started in Sherman. The little town looked interesting, but I didn't have much time to dawdle. The entrance sign was clear on the trail, but but didn't see anything in town to show the way to that point at first. Ask. Someone will tell you ;)
After about 1/2 mile, the path ends on a street. No signs as to where to go from there. Read your map ahead and you'll know you ride on Kendrick and Titus roads about a mile. Then back on the trail. It is a bumpy ride, definitely leave your rode bike at home. But a nice ride through wetlands, past a beaver dam, and through the woods. You will cross several roads. Watch for Summerdale, as you need to ride on the road a short distance again.
The last stretch will take you right into Mayville across from the park. About 11 miles in all for this section. Enjoy!
I entered the trail on rt 394 Mayville and went west. The trail is poorly marked, there are no signs on rt 394 as to where the trail begins even though this is by the HQ of Chautauqua rails to Trail. I had to ask to find whre the trail began. The trail is extremely rough and in my opinion only suited for hiking and mountian biking(and snowmobileing which appears to be the main function of the trail)
The trail is heavily wooded which made for a good back country hike. Since the trail is quite long I feel at least part of it should be made suitable for road and hybred bikes. Use of graded crushed stone would do this while preserving the rural character of the trail.
I entered this trail where it intersects 430/Chautauqua St., and ran North on the trail to Fish Rd. Nice trail for a run. Scattered gravel in some places is a little uncomfortable underfoot. There didn't seem to be a parking area on 430 (or at any of the other roads the trail intersects), but I didn't have any problems leaving my car on the side of the road. This trail and others nearby make up part of an extensive snowmobile trail network, check the Chautauqua Snowmobile Club if you're looking for other similar trails in the area.
Ditto last reviews re' absence of marking to find the Sherman trailhead. We did find an old-timer with local knowledge so we finally found the very small parking area.
While reviewing the trail map we were attacked by a swarm of stinging bees so decided that we weren't
in the mood any longer. The stings were painful!
We opted not to try to ride the path this day.
"It appears not much has changed since the reviewer's comments in 2003. The trail markings are very poor and the trail is extremely difficult to find. We found one entrance, but not having a mountain bike didn't enter.
This isn't like Rails to Trails that I've seen in any other states."
We tried to find this trail at the southern end near Sherman and had a devil of a time locating the parking despite having three different sources showing it very clearly on a map. We gave up and went into Mayville and biked around part of the lake on the NY State bike rout 17.
We're very disappointed by the very poor access marking. This is unlike anything we've ever experienced with other rails-to-trails.
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