Manchester, NY is a very small town. Really tiny. Only a population of 1500 or less. But somehow the tax base still found a way to invest in a 1.5 mile long bike/foot path along a tributary called the Canandaigua Outlet.
The water was flowing strong enough for whitewater rafting the day I visited. This is, after all, the Seneca Watershed, the largest in the state.
I found the Manchester Gateway Trail using a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website called TrailLink.
Six years in the making, the trail was completed in 2012 but discovery tell a much older story. The village boomed over a century ago when the Lehigh Valley Railroad transported primarily coal from Athens, Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario.
Lehigh Valley was also well-known for its passenger service with a premier passenger train known as the Black Diamond Express. It ran between NYC and Buffalo and because of its appeal to newlyweds on their way to Niagara Falls, the train was nicknamed the “Honeymoon Express.”
Today, that thriving railroad monopoly is a stone dust walking trail. A dozen history-rich interpretive signs, year-round exercise stations and modern benches invite visitors to reflect on the tranquility of the place. Bird feeders mounted to Sugar Maples attract feathered friends like flitting warblers.
It’s such a pity that the hillside that runs adjacent to the trail is littered with debris like old tires and bags of garbage – presumably from private land owners. In the summer the eye soar is obscured by leaves but in the winter it sticks out like a sore thumb.