Cato-Fair Haven Trail

New York

23 Reviews

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Cato-Fair Haven Trail Facts

States: New York
Counties: Cayuga
Length: 14.51 miles
Trail end points: Main St. (Fair Haven) and SR 370 (Cato)
Trail surfaces: Cinder, Dirt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016629

Cato-Fair Haven Trail Description

The Cato-Fair Haven Trail (a.k.a. Cayuga County Trail) travels a little more than 14 miles through forest, wetland and tree farm.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available in both Fair Haven and Cato.

Cato-Fair Haven Trail Reviews

Pleasent stroll through the bog. Punctuated with numerous mud holes presumably generated by motor vehicles

Pleasent stroll through the bog. Punctuated with numerous mud holes presumably generated by motor vehicles

Fair Haven/ Cato

Not good for bike ride or walking! Muddy, rutted. For ATVs only

Wonderful trail (on a mountain bike)

I almost skipped this great trail due to the bad reviews, but it was quite nice. Beautiful forest, wetlands and a few peeks of farmland. Make no mistake, it's nothing like zooming down the Erie towpath on perfectly smooth stone dust, but it would be manageable for anyone with a little mountain bike experience. There were too many mud puddles to count (some trail-wide) on my ride. You could either blast through them like a ten year old and come back looking like a Tide commercial or practice your bike handling around the edges. Like any mtn. bike trail, you'll need to keep your eyes on the trail and be ready for occasional half-buried rocks. Try to go when it's dry and expect a slower pace with lots of maneuvering and it's a good ride. *** The first 1/2 mile or so starting at the Fair Haven Fire Dept. is awful. You can skip it by road riding on Fair Haven Rd (94) between the fire dept. and Simmons Rd at the sawmill (trail is 100 ft. from Fair Haven Rd. at this point). It's only a mile and not busy at all.

Not for a leisurely bike ride

Rode trail from Fair Haven to Cato (7/25/21). This trail is essentially an ATV trail. There are numerous spots that have deteriorated due to erosion. A 29r with front and rear suspension might enjoy pedaling this trail.


One who loves to hike

Hiked the first two miles South of Fairhaven. Very difficult walk full of rocks and cinders and plainly not hospitable to hikers and groomed for motorized vehicles instead. Would recommend a pavement for bikers and hikers since it would seem to help supplement activities at the park and allow families to bike and hike some beautiful backwoods Upstate scenery.

ATVs - not bikes

The setting is beautiful and the shaded trail a relief from hot sun. Unfortunately the trail is beat up by motorized vehicle traffic and poorly maintained, so you have to pay close attention to dodging large pot holes and the cobbles used for repair. Would be vastly improved with stone dust vs runner crush and stones. Nice ATV trail and riders I met were very considerate.

Cato-Fair Haven Trail

Compared to other trails we have ridden on with our mountain bikes this one was very dug up and rocky.

Cato-Fair Haven Trail

Very nice ride 28 mile round trip between Fair Haven and Cato. The air was sweet, lots to see and places to stop and sit. Look forward to it again. Would be a great way to take out of town friends for an ATV ride, walk , bike, whole family trail or beginners. Moved some downed tree branches and picked up trash. Wear appropriate attire, abandoned railway. Paid $30 dollars to the Oswego Valley ATV club to ride trail and for a parking pass, trail map and code of conduct papers. Walk, Bike for free,some horse traffic as well. On the whole I felt safe. and I felt the people that live on or near the trail were friendly good hearted hard working people.

Great mountain bike trail

I live in the Cato area, so I ride this trail all the time. In May, it's beautiful, filled with the wild purple Dames Rocket flowers. If you get on the trail earl morning, 7am you'll see the deer and great blue herons...there's lots of water along the edges and you'll go by three large ponds too. The bugs don't bother you, if you're moving fast enough on your bike. There's one 1.5 mile stretch between the first Ira Station rd (closer to Cato end) and the second Ira Station Rd crossing that's very bumpy with lava like rocks...I hate that part, but there's one of the big ponds in that area too. There are a number of big holes that are easy to go around the outer edges to avoid the possible water in it. The ATV's have always been very polite in slowing down when passing. It's great for horse riding too. I like it because the 14 miles is in the wilderness/very rural and it's ALL GREEN and there's variety all along the way. And the best part is in Fair Haven, eating home baked cookies at the FLY BY NIGHT COOKIE Company!!!!

LOVE my local trails

I ride my horse on these trails we have a great time watching wild life, and enjoying the trails.
Great restaurant at the end of the Cato head trail all tho I can't go up on horseback.
Hickory Ridge Golf course and Restaurant!!

Cato/Fair Haven

This is a mountain bike trail. I rode this a couple of days before Christmas 2015 after some heavy rains. There were several puddles of water, one of which I got off and walked around. In other sections the rain water ran in the trail but didn't cause a problem. Other than that I thought this to be a mountain bike trail novice level. I went out Cato to Fair Haven, and came back in on the trail and some roads to mix it up.

Decent ride - needs some improvements

For starters, don't park in Screwy Louie Sport Shop's parking lot (in spite of what the book "Take Your Bike!" says). The owner came out and told me I can't park there. When I told him that a trail guide said that is where you can park he got annoyed and told me to move. The trailhead in Fairhaven has moved to across the Fairhaven FD.

The first couple of miles out of Fairhaven the trail is rutted with lots of ATV/snowmobile wear/tear and in need of re-surfacing. The next 4 miles (as far as I went) varied from smooth to rough in a few places.

All in all - it was a decent ride, with a few mild challenges along the way.

Not much fun

Was hoping for a decent ride. The trail was all ruts from ATV's, lots of ponding water in the ruts and over flow from the swampy ponds. Might have been a decent ride if you could have spent some time looking at scenery rather than looking at the trail for the next hole and swatting the mosquitoes. If you use this trail take a LOT of bug spray and hope for a dry summer season. Ride the rail trails all the time and this one was the worst by far.

Scenic mountain bike experience

We started the trail at the Ira town hall, the first mile was well groomed however miles 2-8 were mostly under water as we had flash floods last week so some water was expected. At a couple of places the water was knee deep and required us getting off our bikes and " wading" through it. The path was mostly mud with patches of gravel, at the points where the path meets road crossings the gravel was very thick and often unsafe to ride through however these small inconviences did not take away from a great ride all the way to the beach at fairhaven. the trail is well marked and chronic hazards were marked with orange paint and stakes. the 14.5 mile ride took us just short of 2 hours, and another 2 hours to return the 14.5 miles back to our start point, if it were drier it would have been shorter but thick mud made peddling difficult. During our day we passed 2 people jogging, 2 other riders and 2, four wheelers. the four wheelers were polite and yielded to us and were only traveling at about 5 miles per hour. If you plan on going to the beach in fair haven follow the trail through the state owned portion ( the bridge marked "to downtown" was barricaded) it will come out near the fire dept in Fairhaven, right at the stop sign and up the big hill brings you to the Fairhaven beach entrance). If you plan on biking this a hybrid or mountain bike is a must, be sure to bring enough water as there is no place to refuel until you reach Fairhaven, also bring bug spray , they are very thick through the swampy parts of the trail..

Well managed trail with a little ATV traffic.

A very fine ride on a Thursday (Aug 25 2005). I was staying at the New York State Fair chaperoning the boys from our county's 4-H program. Each county spends four days total running a booth at the state fair. The booth contains the best projects of the county's kids. The teen leaders staffing the booth spend their day running activities to entertain visitors.

I, on the other hand, being superfluous during the day, went for two rides on Thursday (this one), and Friday's. This ride involves two different rail-trails that intersect in the shape of a cross: the Cato-Fair Haven Trail, and the Cayuga Hojack Trail.

The Cato-Fair Haven Trail is a reasonably managed trail. In spite of the signs that say "No Wheeled Vehicles", bicycles are encouraged to use the trail. The sign seems to be referring to "No Motorized Wheeled Vehicles", because snowmobiles are allowed to use the trail in the winter. In spite of the sign, ATVs are indeed using the trail. Maybe they're a small set of riders allowed on the trail to keep a section of the trail free of grass? They mow the trail with a brush-hog; indeed they were mowing it on the day I rode the trail. There are a number of missing bridges; at least two railroad bridges over the highway had been removed and have been replaced by ramps down and back up. One highway bridge over the railroad was removed and replaced by ramps up and back down. A bridge over a creek is missing and has been replaced by a ramp around the abutments and down to a culvert. Not once did I have to get off my bike, though.

The Cayuga Hojack Trail needs more mowing than it's currently getting. There were some places where I had to slow way down because I couldn't see the surface of the trail for the weeds that had grown over it. Unfortunately, the trail is really just a Cayuga County trail. It goes into Oswego County a little ways, but even though they own some portion of the right of way and it's free of brush and trees, they've closed it to public access. There have been wash-outs and on the privately owned sections, development, or so reports the Oswego County Tourism Director. The extent of the trail on the map on my blog (linked below) shows all of the officially open sections of the trail. It's possible that the trail goes beyond the Cayuga County line to the south-west, but if so, it leaves the railbed to do it.

Interestingly, the Ira Town Offices in Cato (southern end of the trail) are in a modern building with railroad station detailing. I suspect that it's built in the same spot as the old Cato railroad station.

Much better than expected!!!

Rode horses 14 miles on this trail during the week. It was lovely and we saw NO ATV's or motorized vehicles!!! All walkers with dogs, joggers and bike riders were very respectful of the horses. I love this trail!!!

Trail condition

I run this trail quite often starting from Cato. I have not used the Fair Haven end yet.I have used this trail for about 3 years now. Typically I go out between 4 and 7 miles and then return. There are usually walkers and sometimes bicyclists there. Occasionally I see an ATV. There is some degradation of the trail but it still very usable and enjoy running there. There are a few places that can be pretty muddy after a good rainfall but normally passable but not always. Very flat trail. Sometimes the bugs can be quite a nuisance but it beats being on the roads. FYI: I don't have an ATV, just enjoy the trails.

Terrible!!! How Sad!

The person who wrote that this trail is for ATV's was exactly right. According to my friend who lives in Cato on the rail trail, it is not safe for horses or even walking now as they have destroyed the trail and it is deep in mud. He also informed me that the ATV's go at a high rate of speed, and any foot traffic, bicyclist or equestrian would be taking their life in their hands should they be on this trail. Most of the rail trails do not allow ATV's for this reason and with the rainy summer, I'm sure that this trail, which is 14 miles long will not recover. Please consider turning this back to a non-motorized trail! Even snowmobiles don't cause the damage ATV's cause.

Can someone tell me the condition of this trail??

I would like to know the condition of this trail for horses. The website says it is for horses. Can anyone confirm the condition? Are ATVs allowed?

Trail condition

The Oswego atv club has leased this trail and it is now
Not fit for walking or biking conditions are terrible large whoops and dangerous spots
Where to avoid the destruction of the atv's you risk going over bank or
Sliding into the deep mud holes they have created.

This trail used to be so much fun it's now ruined for all but ATV'S :((

Cayuga Trail / Hojack Trail

This trail is a very good ride, with a relatively good surface and being well marked. The primary trail runs north and south between Fair Haven and Cato, approximately 14 miles long, running through quiet woods. The Hojak trail crosses the main trail, connecting Hannibal and Red Creek (with the Red Creek section being the least traveled and sometimes in need of mowing). These trails make for many loop opportunities using local roads. Additionally, with Fair Haven State Park it makes for a good weekend venture.

Cato-Fair Haven Trail?

I've seen this trail described elsewhere as the Cato-Fair Haven Trail. In particular, the county describes it as such here:

I rode it back in August of 2005, and published my thoughts on the trail here:

Nice challange ride

My two grown daughters and I took this ride on Aug21 and was more of a challange than I expected. For some reason I thought it was 12 miles - not 20 - so we were wondering where we were going at times. I used to ride to Fair Haven State Park when I was younger and some of the hills can be tough. Easy pedaling, seemed like downhill both ways, the old railroad engineers seemed to know the best route.

Some comments on the trail: Surfaces were rough in places, made it hard to look around. One section, next to last going into Fair Haven was nearly impassable, quite muddy (we didn't want to go through the mud). Could use a few more signs pointing out town directions, etc. I guess it didn't help when we asked a person if a certain direction went to Fair Haven and she said "yes" which wasn't even close. Oh well, that's part of the fun...


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