This easy-going hike delivers an assortment of the natural terrain and ecosystems that make up the Finger Lakes. It's a two-for-one trail, as this portion is part of the Finger Lakes Trail and North Country National Scenic Trail. Plus, you get to walk through a vineyard, which is a unique experience.
The hike is pleasant with an elevation change of just over 500 feet. However, the trail follows a plunging ridgeline with the Mitchellsville Creek below where you’re treated to dynamic views of waterfalls, pools, and riffles. Take care to stay on the trail; portions of it meander through private property, to which the owners have graciously granted pedestrian access.
Park on the grassy space along County Route 88/Hammondsport-Pleasant Valley Road and look for the FLT signage. As far as trailheads go, this one is unusual. The trail begins in a vineyard. It’s more of a grassy lane with some of the vineyard’s outbuildings nearby. Just stay on the grass and head for the vines. Follow the FLT signs and white hashtags marked sporadically at the end of the vineyard rows.
At the end of the vineyard portion, the trail turns right and descends into a mixed hardwood forest. At this point the trail ambles alongside Mitchellsville Creek. It's a lively creek, and a moderately deep, albeit small, pool of water under a short waterfall might entice you in for a dip on hot days. The trail meanders through the forest and then pops out onto an old railway bed for about 100 yards. From there it goes right and slowly begins its climb. Before you know it, the creek is far below in a gorge and you'll be walking a fragrant path in a pine and eastern hemlock forest. The turnaround point is marked by a spiral style where the FLT continues on for thru-hikers. Using the stile as a turnaround point, the there-and-back trail logs 5 miles.
Seasonal notes: In the summer the trail is shady and not too buggy. While pleasant in the summer, it's spectacular in autumn where you’re immersed in the Northeast's celebrated autumn foliage. In early autumn the grapes are ripe. Refrain from eating them off the vine. You can purchase some at the vineyard’s fruit stand located on Fish Hatchery Road about a half mile from the trailhead up the road to your right.