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The key word in describing the Pat McGee Trail in western New York is variety. The rail-trail rolls for more than 12 miles across the Allegheny Plateau between Cattaraugus and Salamanca, passing through differences in climate, soil, and topography that give rise to 41 species of mammals, 150 types of birds, and 174 kinds of plants and trees.
Formally dedicated in 2005 to the memory of state senator and trail supporter Patricia McGee, the trail follows an Erie Railroad branch that ran between Salamanca and Dunkirk on Lake Erie. It later became part of the Erie Lackawanna Railroad and the New York & Lake Erie Railroad before it went out of service in 1990. The trail visits seven villages and hamlets along the route and crosses six bridges. Travelers face a gentle rise midway along the trail as it crosses the Eastern Continental Divide. Numerous interpretive signs along the route explain natural and historical features along the way.
Starting just south of Cattaraugus, the trail takes a steep dip across a bridge and begins a climb toward the Continental Divide. You’ll find a lean-to here used by cross-country skiers and snowmobilers in the wintertime; it also serves as protection for sudden summer storms.
You’ll cross over the Eastern Continental Divide about 3 miles after the start and pass the 11-acre Linlyco Lake between the villages of New Albion and Little Valley. In another 2 miles, you’ll enter the county seat of Little Valley and pass the entrance to the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds, which draws crowds to the fair in August and to stock car and demolition derbies throughout the summer. The town has a couple of diners for refreshments, or you can picnic at the community park in one of the gazebos or the picnic shelter. Paved for a short distance, the trail returns to crushed stone as you leave the village.
The final 6 miles to Salamanca runs alongside Little Valley Creek through a narrow agricultural valley. The open space across farm fields allows sweeping views of the surrounding hills. The Pat McGee Trail crosses a state hiking trail into Elkdale State Forest about 2 miles past the trailhead in Little Valley. Another 2 miles down the trail, it crosses another hiking path, the 950-mile Finger Lakes Trail. Just before that trail junction, you’ll traverse a 123-foot-long railroad trestle, which is the longest on the rail-trail.
The trail ends as it enters Salamanca, once a busy railroad hub on the north bank of the Allegheny River. The city is within the Allegheny Reservation. The Seneca–Iroquois National Museum is located about a mile south at 814 Broad St., and the Salamanca Railroad Museum is housed in a restored passenger depot about 2.5 miles away at 170 Main St.
Cattaraugus County is studying potential connections between the Pat McGee Trail and several other trails in the county, such as the Allegheny River Valley Trail between Allegany and Olean.
To reach the northern endpoint just south of Cattaraugus from I-90, take Exit 59 and turn left onto NY 60 S/Bennett Road. Go 3.3 miles, and turn left onto NY 83. Go 9.8 miles, and turn left to stay on NY 83. Go 2.3 miles, and stay straight onto NY 322 (NY 83 turns right). Go 4.7 miles, and turn right onto US 62/E. Plains Road; then go 4.8 miles, and turn left onto County Road 6/Leon New Albion Road. Go 11.6 miles, and look for a small parking lot on the left. The trail starts on the right.
To reach the southern endpoint in Salamanca from I-86, take Exit 20, and head northeast onto NY 417 E. Go 0.7 mile, and turn left onto NY 353/Center St. Go 0.9 mile, and look for parking on the right at the trailhead.
Biked trail from Little Valley parking area south to end in Salamanca. Fairly level, smooth, mostly grass. Nice bridges. Fairly dry considering the recent rain. Could use a few benches or picnic tables along the way or at the Salamanca end. Had to bike back to Little Valley to have lunch at the picnic shelter. After lunch, biked a few miles north. This part is in more open farm land. Because of the lack of pavement, this trail requires tires wider that a typical road bike. My mountain bike worked well.
Just rode the trail from south to north and back. Beautiful and widely diverse scenery. The trial was slow compared to asphalt or crushed stone, being mostly grass, hard-packed dirt, and some crushed stone. Mostly double-track but single-track in some places. The southern-most end was primarily mowed grass, but the further north we rode, the harder and smoother the trail surface became. There was a Porta-John at the ball field in Little Valley, which was nice, but otherwise no amenities. Met the Director of the Pat McGee Trail on his tractor. Was thrilled that we "came all the way from Rochester to ride his little trail."
I rode this trail on a fat bike north end to south and back the same day. The distance listed here matched the distance my GPS watch recorded. The trail was very clear and it moved quick. Very enjoyable scenery as you cross a few bridges and some historic sites. I rode the trail in April 2016 with dry conditions.
Just took the trail in its entirety from north to south . Some parts were great , two tree falls over the path, one just by the fair grounds , the second about 3 miles south. Both tree's were not to hard to get around . Last 1/4 of trail was a bit grown in but seemed to be no problem for a MT bike style bike, Camp sites markers were not visible Issued them both
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 chance to do one.. Sat was beautiful day and I just loaded the trike and headed to Catt..NY found the trail head.. Fitted the trike to ride.. Long story short.. learned that you dont coast with a trike on these trails you pedal all the way to the End.. But was a great ride.. I rode frm Catt to Salamaca..And back it took me frm 10am to 4pm..With a lot of stops and picture taking.. Wild life of all kinds and nice people(some with maneating dogs).. lol Will do it again!! And will find more trails to ride..Happy trails .. Don
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 stop and have a snack. CITO.
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.
I started in Little Valley at the parking lot where Main Street ends. The adjacent market has a great Deli. The rail North was great with farmland, wetland, and forest. Slight hill up then down, but not significant. I used a road bike, but would recomend a hybrid or mountain bike. The trail immediately South of town was rough and could use some work. I like trails that do not follow highways and this fit the bill. Would recommend if you are in the area.
What an awesome trail! The elevation changes, scenery, wildlife and overall condition of the trail were excellant. Much better than the typical paved paths we normally ride. We had a great trip from Cattaruagus to Salamanca. It is a definite addition to our fall ride list. Thank you!
My son and I arrived in Little Valley late Saturday morning. We conveniently parked in the center of town, next to the picnic area and former location of the Erie Railroad station. This is a great place to start your journey, as the parking is safe and located next to a market store. We began our ride south, toward Salamanca. The first thing we noticed was the overall condition of the trail, from crushed stone to grass, which was perfect for our mountain bikes. The trail is clean, well maintained and very scenic. We were actually the only bikers on the trail for most of the trip, passing numerous folks on horseback. The weather was warm and sunny, allowing us to reflect back over the history of this region, while fully enjoying the tranquil settings. As we crossed several bridges, one could only drift back to a simpler time when the hills were filled with steam whistles from passing trains. There are plenty of places to rest in between, usually under a bridge next to a crystal clear stream. Once reaching the outer part of Salamanca (where the trail ends), you can continue a bit further into town or just start your return journey. Upon arriving back in Little Valley (about a 12 mile round trip), we rested and visited the local market store for much needed refreshments. A great adventure that is highly recommended!
I went onto the trail from the Woodworth parking area over the weekend - out doing some geocaching. Saw a fellow cacher leaving and there were hikers ahead of us. We hadn't explored this part of the trial yet - we were not disappointed - the stream is beautiful. What a thrill when we saw the bridge! We spent time just standing on it & watching the water. This part of the trail is a little more grassy, but absolutely a great place for walking or biking. I really enjoy the interreptive stops.
The Pat McGee memorial trial streching from Cattaraugus to Salamanca is a real gem. Very well maintained and great for both hiking and biking. Just got back from a bike ride earlier today and encountered 6 other bikers and several hikers. The trail is in super shape and has become a great recreational resource for our area. My wife and I try and get out there at least a couple times a week.
It has a variety of interpretive stops and a shelter for those wishing to take a break with a great view. I highly recommend the trail to felllow hikers and bikers---you will be pleasantly surprised.
to the one who said "need help". I think you need to loosten your chin strap. This is an excellent trail for many things. We use it often for hiking, biking and geo caching. The trail is maintained very well and served by many volunteers. Rick Lefeber and the LDC did an excellent job getting this trail set up and maintained. It's not a city trail with black top, it's on the souther tier. It's nature at its best. It's a former railroad bed and has a lot of history. Some area are grass, some are gravel and all very easy on the feet, bicycle tires or horses feet. I highly recommend this trail to anyone who wants to get back in touch with nature.
I love this trail! We hike it, bike it, jog it, geocache, and sometimes just wander to clear the mind. It is so beautiful & relaxing...I love the scenery, the scent of the woods, the beauty. We love to get to the beaver pond & just sit & watch. Our goal is to bike the entire trail & back. We've met very friendly people along the way. There is so much education along the trail too...makes us stop & think & use our imagination as to what is was like to drive a train down it & what is was like just after the glacier. We love this trail and in my opinion is wonderfully maintained. I don't want it to look like a paved, city trail....I love it as it is. Natural & beautiful. Thank you for the fantastic job you've done with it!
the trail here is not keep up and there no way to ride any other bike but a Mt. bikes as I have try..
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