If you want a relaxing break from your schedule or a family-friendly spot that gives you a new perspective on the land, Gananondagan (pronounced Ga-NON-da-gan) State Historic Site is your place. Numerous trails crisscross the 596-acre parcel. It's the original site of a 17th-century Seneca town that was home to about 4,500 people before being destroyed by a colonizing army. It’s a beautiful piece of healthy, natural habitat and a mere 20-minute drive from the very urban downtown Rochester, New York.
There are three interpretive trails explaining various cultural and historical elements of the Haudenosaunee communities (also known as the Iroquois Confederacy). In this way, the setting for these trails becomes more than a quiet place with beautiful views. Walking the trails leaves you feeling richer and more aware of the land and what it means to those who lived there for hundreds of years.
Access the trails either from parking at the Seneca Art and Culture Center or the small dirt, well-marked parking lot near the house on the corner of routes 444 and Boughton Hill Road. From here there are two flat, grass-lined interpretive trails: Trail of Peace and Trout Brook Trail. Depending on how you crisscross your path, the walk is about a mile.
The Trail of Peace leads to a second, smaller loop (think of the trail as a lopsided figure eight). This second loop treats you to panoramic views that defy the trail’s flat terrain. A picnic table is parked under some trees. Closer to the center there is a Seneca longhouse and historically accurate garden of corns, beans, and squash. If you want more miles, you can access them by either the service road off the second loop on Trail of Peace or go to the center where you can access the Great Oak Trail.
Trails are open year round. Cross-country skiing (ungroomed) and snowshoeing are encouraged during winter. In late summer, visit the gigantic old apple tree behind the center for a free, natural snack. Check the schedule during the summer for special events to avoid crowds. Dogs are welcome but must be leashed out of respect for the site. Portable toilets are in the upper parking lot. Restrooms are available inside the center during business hours.