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Finger Lakes National Forest

Backbone Trail


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The 6.6 mile Backbone Trail is a horse trail located in Finger Lakes National Forest. It travels mostly on old roads. Hikers are always welcome to explore this trail year round.

Trail Description:

The Backbone Trail begins at the Backbone Horse Campground, and travels in the forest through shrub lands, pastures, old roads and many old homestead sites.  It intersects the Interloken and Burnt Hill Trails to the south and the No-Tan-Takto trail to the north.  It is a horse trail, however hikers are always welcome to walk the wide path.

It is a relatively flat primitive trail with natural tread, gravel in wet places and mowed paths through fenced pastures.  Please close gates behind you. From the north the Backbone Trail can be accessed at the corner of Ball Diamond Road and Wardner Corner Road or at the Foster Pond parking lot.  Follow the signs and blaze marks. 

Caution:  Trails are closed to horse users from March 15th thru May 1st due to muddy conditions. Be aware Horses, Hikers, Mountain Bikers, Skiers and Snowmobiles use this trail in season.

Trail Facts

Length:  6.6 miles one way
Max. Elevation Change: 121 feet
Amount of use: Moderate
Feature:  Views
Hiking level:  Easy
Use restrictions:  No motorized vehicles except snowmobiles when conditions permit.


From the South: Take I-86/NY 17 to exit 52 (Watkins Glen exit/NY 14 North).  In Watkins Glen, turn right on NY 414 North.  At the Fourth St. intersection go approximately 9 miles north, past the Hector Ranger Station of the Finger Lakes National Forest on the right.  Continue for mile and turn onto County Route 2, which is the next asphalt road.  Travel for 3.5 miles east.  Backbone Campground is on the left, opposite the intersection with Burnt Hill Road.   Start hiking following the signs and blaze marks. GPS coordinates are N42 29.073 W76 48.460

From the North: Take I-90 to exit 41 (NY 414 south to Hector, NY) the second asphalt road on the left, mile past the gas station is County Route 2, turn left and go 3.5 miles east Backbone Campground.  It is located on the left, opposite the intersection with Burnt Hill Road. Start hiking following the signs and blaze marks. GPS N42 29.073 W76 48.460

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