Catharine features a scenic trail experience
FINGER LAKES--Running from the Village Harbor in Watkins Glen to Horseheads, the Catharine Valley Trail has existed in many forms throughout the years. Serving previously as a tow path and a rail bed, the trail is now a popular destination for bicyclists, walkers and runners. With much of it consisting of a crushed stone surface, the trail leads through Schuyler County and features wilderness, swamps, canals, roads and bridges for those who walk its path.
Maggie Martin of the Friends of the Catharine Valley Trail said the path is a popular destination when it comes to Finger Lakes trails because of its flatness, making it ideal for fitness and outdoor recreation. While she is not able to track the number of people who use the trail, she estimates thousands of people use it every year. Comparing it to other trails in the area, Martin added it is a well developed trail that features parking, restrooms and proper maintenance work to clean and repair the trail.
"We want it to be really accessible and for people to realize the benefits of being in nature," Martin said.
Martin said the trail follows the original tow path of the Chemung Canal, crediting the late Ed Hoffman with the initial influence to create the trail. According to the Friends of the Catharine Valley Trail website, Hoffman originally pitched the idea for the path to become a walking trail in the 1970s, but it was not pursued. He eventually raised some $35,000 and negotiated additional purchases and land swaps to secure an uninterrupted corridor before state parks accepted the donation of the 12 mile long corridor in 1997.
One of the enhancements the Friends of the Catharine Valley Trail are working on completing is their cell phone tour, which includes a number one can dial on their phone to listen to historic information of the trail environment.
Martin added there are also several events held along the trail, which includes organized runs and cleanup days. While the 12 mile long trail serves as a pedestrian way to travel from Watkins Glen to Horseheads, the group has yet to officially finish the trail.
"We are anticipating the completion of the trail soon," Martin said. "We really thought it was going to happen last year, but it is imminent. The ultimate destination of the trail is Mark Twain State Park. [...] One of the main obstacles right now is there was some flood damage two years ago in the area around Millport. That becomes a Department of Environmental Conservation matter and it got slowed down because of reviews and things, but it is still passable."