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Away From The Daily Grind

Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel

Stepping away from everyday life for a bit on a hike through the woods can be incredibly rewarding. 

For one thing, doing so can help you slow down and reconnect with yourself allowing you to regain a sense of control. But even beyond that, the outdoors engages the senses and, in so many ways, can delight, recharge, and inspire. 

Picking a path that is developed, yet still somewhat secluded provides you the best chance at experiencing all of that. A path like the one making up the Huckleberry Bog Trail, a loop on the Finger Lakes Trail just outside of Hammondsport

If you’re a tree, plant, or wildlife lover, this off-the-beaten path path through the woods was made for you. 

Fill Your Eyes With Wonder: Nature Abounds

Sugar Maple, Red Maple, White Ash, White Oak, Yellow Birch, Beech, American Chestnut, Red Oak, White Pine, Running Pine, Black Cherry, Hawthornes, Witch Hazel, Periwinkle, Highbush Blueberries, Wild Raspberries . . .

Owls, Porcupine, Beaver, Songbirds . . . 

Make sure you have your eyes and ears turned on. There’s a whole lot going on here.

Beaver in Autum Wildlife
Bill Banaszewski

If you read the well documented account of the trail markers (numbered white metal tags located on trees along the trail) in the Nature Trail Guide, you’ll learn that “Stop # 17 is a clear overlook into the bog, an unusual wet spot at the top of the hill. It was formed by a fragment of a glacier, which remained longer than the lowland ice. As it melted, the ice left behind some odd things such as pink granite and some unusual seeds of plants that belong further north. This explains the BLACK SPRUCE (24) that dot the bog.

Highbush Bluberry (20) and Sphagnum Moss are ‘acidophiles’ (acid lovers) and can be seen around the bog along with Arum Lillies (24) and a Button Bush (24) directly in front of the opening at stop 17."

Huckleberry Bog Nature Trail
The Hugging Trees courtesy The Finger Lakes Trail

The Experience

Beauty and serenity. Those are two things you tend to experience here. This hike is also fun for families due to the mostly flat terrain and the variety of plants and sites to be found. 

Bogs are rather unique. Part body of water, part land, yet not entirely one or the other which makes them so interesting. And potentially dangerous, too. So, while keeping to the paths and enjoying the wonderful ecosystem they create—the wildlife, the plant life—you don’t want to go tromping around out onto a bog itself as you might get stuck, or worse. 

Huckleberry Bog Nature Trail
Finger Lakes Trail

Despite the potentially dangerous aspect of bogs in the wild, a safe and maintained trail (thanks to the efforts of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference) has been blazed allowing novice and avid hikers a peaceful, relaxing hike through a lush natural environment. 

Along the way you’ll find a nature trail, a shelter if needed, a section identified for the two trees entwined called the Hugging Trees, an Observation Deck, plus an abundance of wildlife and vibrant plantlike. 

This mostly level loop also connects with the Bristol Hills Branch which runs from just above Naples to Wayland if you’re interested in longer hikes or returning for more exploration.

What is a Bog and Why Hike There?

Huckleberry Bog Nature Trail

As mentioned above, Bogs are somewhat unusual. As such they’re something most folks typically encounter. As a result, they’re also not entirely familiar with what to expect. 

Not the sort of thing you want to wander into unawares, a bog is a very unique ecosystem typically created when a body of water becomes overgrown with vegetation. If one steps out onto a bog (don’t!) what seems like solid ground is usually an illusion and people can become instantly stuck if not sucked under. A good enough reason to keep to the trail. 

This loop hike comes with an observation deck (a great spot for nature watching) and depending on the season you might even encounter huckleberries and wild raspberries. Getting a copy of the interpretive nature trail guide is advised, as not all plants are edible and along each section of the trail, you’ll find numerous plants identified and described.

A Walk Through The Past

Huckleberry Bog Nature Trail
Finger Lakes Trail

Occasionally, you make discoveries when you adventure through the forest. It might come in the form of wildlife or plants (depending on the season you might be able to forage for huckleberries or wild raspberries). Sometimes you encounter remnants of the past. 

And this hike is, in many ways, a walk through the past. 

It’s not everyday you can discover an historic cemetery while on a hike through the forest, but  if you have an interest in old cemeteries, you’re in luck. Not far from the south trail marker on Bean Station Road, you’ll find small, historic Covell Cemetery with its stacked stone wall and assortment of monuments and markers.

Seeking a Little Guidance

Ranger Outfitters
Ranger Outfitters Guide Services

There are a few friendly knowledgable locals who offer guided hiking services throughout the region. Visit our Guides, Gear and Groups page for more information.

Of course, if you’re a hiker who prefers solitude (or you have no interest in traveling with a guide), but you would like to learn hiking tips, as well as interesting information about the history of the trail you are on, where the trail continues and other sections, as well as the diverse plant life and wildlife you might encounter on the trail, you may want to print a Nature Trail Guide (which includes a map as well as detailed information about plant life along the trail) to the specific section you intend to hike.

The Finger Lakes Trail Conference also offers a comprehensive guide book for all the maps of the 900+ mile Finger Lakes Trail, of which the Bristol Hills Branch Trail and Huckleberry Bog Loop Trail are part.

Grocery icon, Wegmans has also created special Hit the Trail Passports which break the expansive Finger Lakes Trail down into three smaller groupings. You can even earn potential prizes.

And you can find some tips on hiking the Finger Lakes Trail here.