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Located in the majestic Finger Lakes region, the Lehigh Valley Trail is a well-used gem with a sparkling future. Wandering 16.4 miles through beautiful landscapes and rich greenery, the trail connects to several other pathways and is part of an effort to create a larger trail system throughout the area. While doable on a road bike, the trail is better suited to hybrid or mountain bikes.
The path follows the former Route of the Black Diamond, a nickname given to the Lehigh Valley Railroad corridor for its role in transporting anthracite coal from Buffalo to New York City. Although the railroad discontinued operations in the mid-1970s, its nickname (the pathway is sometimes referred to as the Black Diamond Trail) and rail heritage are still part of the trail’s identity today.
At its eastern end, the trail starts in the lovely Lehigh Crossing Park in Victor. The 54-acre park marks the confluence of the Lehigh Valley Trail, Auburn Trail, and Trolley Trail and offers ample parking as well as a fishing pond, a playing field, a picnic area, and seasonal bathrooms. Helpful signs are placed around the park and along the remainder of the trail to steer visitors in the right direction.
Heading west, users will travel 0.8 mile on a stone-dust path before reaching a railroad trestle bridge at a second intersection of the Auburn Trail. In 1.6 miles, you’ll approach Old Dutch Road in Victor. For the next 1.4 miles to Mendon, horses are permitted on a parallel grass trail. In Mendon, the trail passes a cluster of youth baseball fields, restroom facilities, water fountains, a lightning protection shelter, and parking.
Continue under comfortable tree-lined shade to the Rochester Junction trailhead at Plains and Junction Roads in Honeoye Falls. Here the developing 14.5-mile North Branch of the Lehigh Valley Trail splits off and makes its way northwest, past the Rochester Institute of Technology campus. Ending at Genesee Valley Park, the North Branch connects with the Genesee Riverway Trail, the expansive Erie Canalway Trail, and the University of Rochester. In addition to its many connections, Rochester Junction also supplies visitors with parking areas, bathrooms, water fountains, and the opportunity to explore railway remnants and a replica freight house.
In 2.5 miles, you’ll reach Veterans Memorial Park in the charming town of Rush. Along the way, slow down to enjoy breaks in the trail’s surrounding foliage that permit views of nearby creeks and glimpses of golden agricultural lands. In town, you can find parking and several trailside eateries before crossing the fairly quiet West Henrietta Road to rejoin the last stretch of trail.
For the last 5 miles, travel over Honeoye Creek, under I-390, and through wetlands to an impressive railroad trestle bridge along the Genesee River. Immediately after crossing the river, you’ll come face-to-face with large stone abutments. These railroad relics mark the intersection of the 68.8-mile Genesee Valley Greenway.
The final 0.5 mile includes a short but steep climb. Bicycle riders with narrow tires are encouraged to dismount to avoid injury. The trail ends alongside a designated parking area off West River Road/CR 84 in Scottsville.
From the vibrant downtown of Rochester, it’s a short trip south to either end of the Lehigh Valley Trail. To reach the eastern trailhead in Lehigh Crossing Park from I-490, take Exit 29, and head south on NY 96 toward Victor; go 2.0 miles. Turn right onto NY 251 W/Victor Mendon Road, and go 0.2 mile. Turn right onto Shallow Creek Trail, then go approximately 0.1 mile to reach the parking area. The eastern trailhead is straight ahead.
To reach the Rochester Junction trailhead in Honeoye Falls, which connects to the developing North Branch of the Lehigh Valley Trail, take I-390 to Exit 11. From I-390 S, turn left onto NY 15, and go 0.3 mile; then turn left onto NY 251 E. From I-390 N, turn right onto NY 251 E. Travel 4.0 miles, then take a right onto Plains Road. Continue until you see the Freight House Lodge, which marks the intersection of the two trails. Parking for both trails is available on either side of Plains Road.
To reach the western trailhead in Scottsville from 1-390, take Exit 11 for NY 15 toward NY 251/Rush. From I-390 S, turn left onto NY 15, and go 0.3 mile; then turn right onto NY 251 W. From I-390 N, turn left onto NY 251 W. Travel 3.8 miles, and turn left onto NY 940H/River Road. Go 1.5 miles to reach a gravel parking area, which abuts the trail and sits directly across from an office park.
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