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Finger Lakes Trail
West Branch Delaware River
This 18.5 mile section of the Finger Lakes Trail takes you by the Cannonsville Reservoir and over the West Branch of the Delaware River. Much of the trail falls on NYC Department of Environmental Protection property with a small section that is located on private property. Some of the trail utilizes old sections of NY 10 that traveled along the Delaware River and old railroad beds that once were active in the area. This is a very scenic stretch of the trail filled with history. It should be noted that the NYC DEP prohibits camping or fires on their property.
The Finger Lakes Trail Conference worked with the NYC DEP in moving what was an extremely long road walk to an almost exclusively off road hiking experience in the summer of 2013. With the reservoir, the Delaware River, old sections of road and railroads as well as the sites of old towns makes this stretch of the FLT a history buffs dream. You are walking where towns once stood, cars drove, trains whistled back before the Delaware River was dammed.
The construction of the Cannonsville Reservoir started in 1955 and was completed in 1965. The water filled this valley by 1966. The reservoir eliminated 94 farms, destroyed five settlements - Cannonsville, Granton, Rock Rift, Rock Royal and Beerston, and displaced 941 people. The trail travels by the former hamlets of Rock Royal, Beerston and Rock Rift. It must have been awful having to leave your home to have this reservoir built, something we should all remember as we hike along this scenic and very historical stretch of the Finger Lakes Trail.
NOTE: A trail reroute was completed in 2014 that is not represented in the description and maps below. This reroute includes the trail being moved to give hikers a chance to visit Rock Rift Fire Tower while traveling the Finger Lakes Trail.
This stretch of the Finger Lakes Trail begins as the trail crosses County Route 27 and soon will follow the old CR 27 in the former hamlet of Rock Royal. There is very limited shoulder parking here, there is better parking on County Route 27 at the Rock Royal Parking area. There is a nice view from there as well. Can you imagine this small bustling community back in the 1950s?
There is a trail closure for HUNTING from CR 47 to NY 10 from 11/15-12/22. Please respect the land owner's request and refrain from hiking on this stretch of trail during this time. The crossing of Loomis Brook you can expect to get your feet wet. There is a steel cable that has been put across the brook to help hikers cross. This should not be attempted during times of high water.
The trail follows abandoned stretches of old NY 10 through out this section of the FLT as well as old railroad beds. The FLT crosses the West Branch of the Delaware River on the NY 268 bridge. The trail travels through the former sites of the small hamlets of Rock Rift and Beerston. There is a really scenic stretch of the trail along the Delaware River. There is even a "Shooting Bypass" where the trail passes by the DEP Police Station. If you hear shooting, take the bypass.
The official Finger Lakes Trail Conference website has up to date trail conditions as well as hiking maps you can purchase from them. This stretch of trail is featured on the FLTC Map M28. Look below for a few pictures, maps and detailed description of the Cannonsville Reservoir section of the Finger Lakes Trail.
Directions from Syracuse: I-81 south to Whitney Point exit 8. NY 206 east to Trout Creek, turn right on County Route 27. You'll find the Rock Royal Parking area on your left just after passing the intersection of Loomis Brook Road aka CR 47. GPS coordinates are N42 09.592 W75 17.232. NY 10 is reached via CR 27 by continuing south along Cannonsville Reservoir.
View from along the trail
Access points for the FLT are well marked
Mile Elevation Trail Description - following white blazes 0.0 1161 feet
Cross County Route 27. Very Limited shoulder parking. GPS N42 09.185 W75 17.613
0.2 1151 feet Turn left on the abandoned old section of County Route 27. This area is the site of the former hamlet of Rock Royal. 0.35 1152 feet Cross Mormon Hollow Creek. 0.65 1161 feet After crossing a stream on a bridge, leave old road then reach Rock Royal parking area. Turn right & follow CR 27. GPS N42 09.592 W75 17.232 0.8 1148 feet Turn right on County Route 47 aka Loomis Brook Road. 0.9 1155 feet Turn right off road. Very limited shoulder parking here. The trail is CLOSED for HUNTING from 11/15-12/22 from here to NY 10. 1.2 1150 feet Steel cable to assist in fording Loomis Brook. Use High Water Bypass if water is too high. After cross begin long ascent. 2.0 1481 feet Turn left, ascent gets steeper. 2.5 1968 feet Trail begins to level off, soon start following old logging road then go straight across open field. 3.05 1902 feet Reach abandoned section of Chamberlain Brook Road and turn right following old road. High Water Bypass Trail joins here. 3.35 1742 feet Leave old road onto existing Chamberlain Brook Road. 3.5 1704 feet Turn left off road and soon cross brook on a footbridge, then ascending again. Limited shoulder parking. GPS N42 08.872 W75 16.164 4.6 2103 feet Reach the highest point along the trail on this section. 4.95 1874 feet Old foundation on the left. 5.4 1689 feet Reach large NYC DEP parking lot and dirt Fletcher Hollow Road. Follow dirt road. GPS N42 08.124 W75 15.042 6.2 1260 feet Turn right on Finch Hollow Road. 6.35 1224 feet Turn right on Dryden Brook Road. 7.1 1184 feet Cross Dryden Brook then turn left off road into woods. 7.6 1184 feet Cross Faulkner Road and Maxwell Brook. 8.4 1212 feet Cross NY 10 toward reservoir. There is no safe parking here. 8.7 1183 feet Start following old NY 10. 8.9 1186 feet Pass by locked gate from NY 10. Good parking available here. 9.5 1153 feet Left off old NY 10, climb toward active NY 10 and turn right following the road. Be careful along this stretch of road walking. 10.35 1142 feet Large parking area on right. Turn right onto NY 268 and cross West Branch Delaware River on long narrow bridge. 10.65 1175 feet Boat Launch access road/parking on right. FLT turns left off road and enters woods, ascending. 11.0 1347 feet Pass by large flat boulder on your left. 11.25 1448 feet Side trail on your right leads a short distance to an overlook with a nice view. 11.3 1421 feet Reach old railroad grade. Trail will basically follow in the area of the old RR bed and cross numerous bridges. 14.35 1226 feet Turn left off railroad bed. You are at the site of the former hamlet of Rock Rift. 14.5 1155 feet Turn right on abandoned old NY 10. Soon cross Chase Brook on old bridge. 14.9 1185 feet Right off old NY 10 up "ramp" to locked gate at Chase Brook Road. Turn left on Chase Brook Road. 15.1 1227 feet Veer right off Chase Brook Road onto old railroad grade. 15.6 1180 feet Right off old railroad grade. A short distance to the left is NY 10/Chase Brook Road intersection with good parking. 16.3 1181 feet Right on NY 10, crossing it in about 400 feet, eventually reaching old NY 10 next to Delaware River. Scenic stretch of trail next to river. 16.85 1152 feet Right off old NY 10, away from river and through DEP parking area. Right and soon cross NY 10, eventually reaching old RR bed. 17.7 1170 feet "Shooting" detour on left (NO KIDDING). If you hear shooting ahead at DEP Police Station take the DETOUR! 17.9 1175 feet Cross Beers Brook Road. 18.0 1175 feet Turn right off RR bed and follow along Beers Brook. 18.2 1191 feet Reach Beers Brook Road. Turn left and follow road. 18.5 1261 feet Reach Houck Mountain Road and turn right to follow road. End of this section. A 3.5 mile road walk before next off road section in Bear Spring Mountain Wildlife Management Area.
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