Summertime in Steuben
Summer is early morning fog on the lake, cast a line from the dock before everyone’s awake, take a deep breath and let it out all day long. It’s time to move, time to get out and get busy exploring the great outdoors. It’s also time to slow down, to gather around campfires, share stories, make memories and s’mores. Summer is full of joy and adventure and good times.
Below are just some of the suggested ways to enjoy summer in Steuben County.
“The Finger Lakes is a region in central New York State . . . known for its charming small towns, local vineyards and wineries, historic inns, a growing food scene with excellent restaurants, cheese makers, numerous distilleries, microbreweries and cideries. It is an area of great beauty with many state parks, outdoor activities, dramatic waterfalls and hiking trails.” - Bob Glaze, Classic Chicago Magazine
Open year-round, nearly 1,000 miles of wilderness footpaths that make up the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) offer plenty of options for brief outings in the woods, day hikes, or even longer thru-hiking excursions.
FLT branch trails like the Mitchellesville Gorge Trail and Crystal Hills Trail connect to the Northern Country Trail and the Great Eastern Trail, respectively, stretching as far as North Dakota to the west and Vermont to the east, as well as the Alabama-Florida border to the south. Each branch trail (there are six total) mentioned above is located just minutes from the towns of Hammondsport and Corning, providing an assortment of fun activities (like shopping, wine and craft beverage tasting, paddling stunning Keuka Lake, even learning about local history) to combine with your time on the trails for a full Finger Lakes experience.
Other accessible trails scattered throughout Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes, like Spencer Crest Nature Center or the Houghton Land Preserve, both located just minutes from downtown Corning, offer easy-to-moderate hiking options. Oh, and the perfect setting for quiet moments of nature appreciation, birding, geocaching, and more. Spencer Crest also has a pond which makes for a romantic picnic spot most folks don’t know about.
If you’re looking for a little guidance, Ranger Outfitters supplies outdoor gear, outdoor skills courses (like land navigation or how to use a topographical map and compass so you can get to where you want to go) and even guided hikes led by licensed New York State outdoor guides.
Mossy Bank Park in Bath is a popular spot for family outings and picnics, but you’ll also find a fun and challenging mountain bike course weaving its way through the trees and past the park’s scenic overlook. Catch your breath while taking in expansive views of the valley below. You might even spot the bald eagles nesting nearby.
One of the best things about living in a rural area are the sundry back roads and byways connecting the towns, as they meander through the countryside making many of them excellent for cycling.
Prefer a casual ride around town or a challenging road route that goes on for miles? Wheels Unlimited does more than repair and sell bikes, they can also "point you in the right direction" when it comes to finding a trail that fits your tastes. They even offer weekend bike rentals.
In the Finger Lakes, you could say everything leads back to the water.
One of the few Y-shaped lakes in the world, Keuka Lake is the only Finger Lake not shaped like a finger. The bluff formed by the lake's unique shape creates a dramatic backdrop for selfies, keepsake photos, and unforgettable memories.
One of the best ways to enjoy the views and experience the water is by gliding across its serene surface in a kayak or on a standup paddle board. If you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent kayaks and paddle boards through Keuka Watersports.
Smaller lakes like Waneta and Lamoka offer beautiful scenery, occasional glimpses of wildlife, or a relaxing fishing outing from your boat if that’s more your thing.
And if exploring the region the way folks might have done hundreds of years ago is of interest to you, think about a kayak or canoe paddle down the Chemung River. Southern Tier Kayak offers a variety of paddling tours throughout summer and early fall. You can learn about local ecology, slip away from the noise and hustle of everyday life for a bit while you paddle with the river’s current. You might even see blue heron, killdeer, eagles, osprey, and other birds that nest along the way. Check their website for information on scheduling your own private or small group tour.
Other Ways to Enjoy the Water
If you're more interested in letting machines do the work while you enjoy the good times, waterskiing, tubing, jet skiing, and boating are all wonderful ways to get out on the water. And if you don't have your own equipment, you can rent these items and more.
There’s something special about a picnic. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the experience, or the fact that picnics are usually shared with the people we’re closest to whether they’re romantic, a family get together, or friends savoring each other’s company.
With so many great spots for food in the area, you don’t even have to make your own meal if you don’t want to. Grab a “to go” order and head for hills (or other local picnic spots).
Stony Brook State Park is more than waterfalls. There are dozens of picnic tables and grills located throughout the woods of this popular state park. Whether you’re camping or just visiting for a couple hours, bring your cookout supplies and have a blast.
Depot Park and Champlin Beach are both located at the southern tip of Keuka Lake and are great spots for lakeside picnics. While there are a few grills and picnic tables at Champlin Beach, Depot Park is made for those intimate picnic blanket experiences you see in movies.
There are over a dozen campgrounds and campsites throughout Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes ranging from primitive tent camping opportunities to a KOA where you might just feel a little spoiled and everything in between. Whether you’re looking for cabins, lodges, or a place to park your RV, rural country locales or those near town, camping is a great way to experience the heart of a place.
While private clubs like Corning Country Club, which for decades hosted the annual LPGA Corning Classic, are exceptional and well worth playing if you can get your pro to pull a few strings, Steuben County's public courses are accessible to everyone and offer a variety of experiences.
Bath Country Club is nestled at the base of a steep hill creating a panoramic backdrop for your golf outing. None of the holes are excessively long, nor extremely narrow, and with a mix of holes tucked back in the trees and those that are relatively open, this course is a good fit for all skills levels, though probably the least difficult for advanced enthusiasts. The change in elevation on some holes makes for beautiful approach shots and often requires adjustments with regards to club selection.
Another popular course perfect for a little friendly competition has become part of the New York State Parks system which can also mean rate benefits for seniors, veterans, and golfers with disabilities. Indian Hills State Park, located just outside Corning, runs alongside the Tioga River and has a wonderful mix of holes with regards to length, doglegs and straight design, water hazards, sand traps, and other on-course obstacles that aren’t overly concerning, but do make for a fun and scenic round.
If you’re looking for something a little different, there are two courses in Hornell that offer an array of scenic holes, as well as a few that tend to favor a player with home course knowledge.
Twin Hickory Golf Club is an 18-hole course located on a hilltop just outside town and comes in at less than 6,400 yards from the tips. When you’re done with your round, enjoy a meal in the newly remodeled clubhouse featuring a casual restaurant and bar. Or visit Hornell Golf Club which opened for play over 100 years ago. If you’re looking for a little local lore, former Hornell Golf Club Pro Ed “Porky” Oliver tied Gene Sarazen and Lawson Little for 1st place in the 1940 US Open before being disqualified for teeing off too early.
For some, fishing is therapy. It’s a spiritual experience. For others, it’s an activity shared with family, a tradition. Others still are driven by the challenge. Steuben County is home to four rivers, numerous streams and tributaries, as well as several lakes, all of which means fishing abounds.
If you’re new to angling or are a seasoned pro, you’ll find an assortment of fish throughout a region which is known in particular for trout. Rainbow, brown, and lake trout can make for great sport and a delicious meal. Landlocked salmon, though harder to find, also make Keuka Lake a prime spot for fishing.
Local guides services and fishing excursions are also available.