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A trail of history, nature, and some trash

PENN YAN—The park known as The Outlet Trail has three distinct personalities that are exhibited along its six mile stretch from Keuka Lake to Seneca Lake and is not exactly what is thought of as a park. This is a linear park that parallels the waterway that flows gently downhill from one lake to the other.
The first section, a mile in length through the heart of the village of Penn Yan is an urban park, bracketed on the south end by sports fields and a boat launch and at the east by a more natural area next to the creek. A 1986 Bond Act grant allowed development of improvements such as a footbridge over the outlet, exercise stations, playgound areas, lighting and paving of the path.
The next section varies from natural areas where little sign of humans are seen except for gravel on the path underfoot. Contrasting with these areas are remnants of its industrial past including traces of mills as well as the locks that controlled water levels in the canal that paralleled the stream. some of the remnants of the past are not quite as historical. A large area west of the Seneca Falls area contains an aging trash dump that stretches from the top of a high cliff down to the old canal bed. Close to 200 feet wide at the bottom, it illustrates an unattractive and environmentally poor custom of the past. Attempts to remove the trash that mars the natural area have not been made due to concerns about the stability of the cliff if the materials were removed. Another concern would be the enormous cost of removal if it was deemed safe and practical to do so.
Improving the park is a challenge for both owners. The village of Penn Yan owns the mile that is in the village and Friends of the Outlet owns the balance. Within the village the path that was paved more than 20 years ago is showing signs of age, due to tree roots growing under the asphalt that have made it  increasingly bumpy. Friends of the Outlet have made many improvements since they purchased the property from Yates County in 1996 and a recent grant has allowed them to continue that work.
Money is the largest stumbling block for both owners. The economy as well as other pressing issues continue to delay further work on both ends. Despite the challenges, the trail provides an escape to the area that offers quiet beauty of a unique sort any day of the year.

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