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February 12 Steege Hill Nature Preserve

Located in Chemung County in the town of Big Flats, Steege Hil is a 794 acre preserve acquired in 2001 by the Finger Lakes Land Trust from an anonymous donor.  In 1970, this area was nearly ruined by heavy logging.  The Town of Big Flats took action to stop the degradation on the hill by shutting down the operation and passing a law regulating future logging within town limits.  Now the original forest is making an impressive recovery.  Numerous species of hardwoods prevail, mixed with conifers on the steeper slopes.  Wildlife include black bear, timber rattle snakes, and Allegheny Mound Ants.  Their distinctive nests can be found trail side and in open areas.  For additional information and maps go to

Steward, Bob Corneau has maintained a network of more than 6 miles of trails, mostly over old logging roads.  It is our good fortune to be able to enjoy the quiet beauty of these tails on a winter afternoon,  Check the Springwater Trails website on February 11 for an update on trail conditions.  If there is snow we could ski or snowshoe.

Parking in very limited at this preserve so car pooling is strongly encouraged.

Hike Description

All groups will depart from the parking area on Steege Hill Rd. After a short but steep ascent, our groups will branch out as follows:

Naturalists will follow the yellow loop in a clockwise direction, enjoying some gentler terrain as well as views of the Chemung River and ponds. The ant mounds are numerous on this trail.  Out nature experts will no doubt enjoy identifying the many varieties of trees and birds. Hike length will be about  2.5  miles.

Tourists will head our on the yellow loop in a counter clockwise direction, past the ponds and then onto the blue trail to loop through the forest back to the yellow trail.  Views of the valley as well as the lower slopes should be nice.  Hiking distance about 3.5 miles.

Climbers  An ambitious journey awaits you, a complete circuit of the trail system..  This group will veer off from the initial climb to follow the white trail, traversing some significant ups and downs.  They will sample the blue and red trails (more hills) before returning home on the yellow loop for about 5 miles.  It’s all down hill on the return.

After Hike Social will be at Tag’s Restaurant on Rte, 352 in Big Flats.

Getting There  Parking is VERY LIMITED.  Roadside parking is not advisable.  Please carpool from the Springwater Town Hall, leaving at 12:30.  Drive time is about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Directions:  Take 390 South to I 86 East.  Take Exit # 48.  Turn Right on NY 352.  Go 1.5 miles.  Turn right on S. Corning Rd. (Chemung CR 10).  Go .7 miles.  Just after bridge turn left on Steege Hill Rd.  Go 1 mile. Slow down.  Parking is on left.  Preserve sign is difficult to spot.

Social  There is a great little joint called Tags, recommended by local folks.  To get there, retrace your steps back to Rte 352.  Turn right and travel about 0.6 mile.  Restaurant is on the right.  Menu is full of salads, burgers, wraps and apps.  See it at


Trail conditions Update 2/11/17.  Looks like freezing rain tonight and rain tomorrow.  Best bet is to wear waterproof clothing and bring traction control devices/ hiking poles in case conditions are slippery.

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Farm Open House

Come tour several working farms in Springwater. Open farms will provide tours of their working farms, including demonstartions and equipment.

At the All Western Evergreen Nursery and Christmas Tree Farm, 6840 Liberty Pole Road (County Road 38), the tour will include the farm’s history, tours to different areas of the farm to see differing species of fir trees, demonstrations of tree farming procedures, and a display of equipment.

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The Erie Railroad in Springwater

1884 Route Map

1884 Map for the Erie Railroad

The New York and Erie Rail Road was chartered April 24, 1832 and construction from Port Jarvis near NYC began in 1836.  A completed line to Dunkirk on Lake Erie opened May 19, 1861. This line proved influential in the development and economic growth of the Southern Tier, including Hornell, the home of the Erie Railroad repair shops until 1960.

In 1853, the Buffalo, Corning and New York Railroad opened the Erie line between Painted Post and Avon, through Cohocton, Wayland, Springwater, Webster Crossing and Conesus.

In 1895, the Lehigh Valley Railroad (one of five railroads serving Rochester, NY) extended its line to the northern shores of Hemlock Lake. This line did not connect to the line through Springwater.  In 1899, one mile of track was removed at Hemlock Lake, as the City of Rochester took over the lake for its water supply.

The Erie Railroad tracks were removed in 1956 by order of the United States Interstate Commerce Commission in order to promote highway transportation.