The Conservation Trail is a footpath which begins at the Pennsylvania border in Allegany State Park and extends northward about 177 miles to meet the Bruce Trail in Canada. The Foothills Trail Club of Western New York built the trail and maintains it. The Conservation Trail is part of the Finger Lakes Trail System which extends eastward across New York State to the Catskills.
The entire Finger Lakes Trail System is marked with standard 2" x 6" paint blazes on trees. Turns are indicated by a double paint blaze; at double blazes, the hiker should locate the next blaze before continuing. Where the trail is hard to blaze, such as along field edges, orange ribbons are sometimes used to supplement blazes. The blazes on the trail from the Pennsylvania line to Fancy Tract Road are white, as this section of the Conservation Trail is part of the main Finger Lakes Trail. The portion north of Fancy Tract Road is a branch trail of the Finger Lakes Trail System and, as such, is marked with orange blazes.
The southern section of the Conservation Trail, from Fancy Tract road to N.Y.16 in Holland, is in rugged country with hills up to 2,300 feet high and valleys as low as 1,300 feet. In Allegany State Park the climbs are gradual and the trail is only moderately strenuous, but from the park to Fancy Tract Road the climbs are steep and strenuous. From Fancy Tract Road to Route 16 the trail is moderately difficult, crossing fields, woods and farmland with relatively gentle ups and downs. There are many wet areas on this part of the trail. From Route 16 to Warner Hill Road the trail is quite strenuous, as it crosses many deep ravines.
From Warner Hill Road to Darien Lake State Park it is a fairly easy route through woods and farmlands, also passing through a county park. After leaving Darien Lake State Park, the trail is in a more developed area, following many field edges and back roads. Much of this area is quite swampy, unsuitable for hiking in wet seasons. The trail then follows the Peanut Line to the bikepath to Ellicott Creek Park. It then continues to the Riverwalk and on to the South Grand Island Bridge. Once over the bridge, the trail follows the Niagara River to Buckhorn Island State Park to the North Grand Island Bridge and on to the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. The last section of trail goes through a populated area and stays almost entirely on paved roads, some of them heavily traveled.
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