Letchworth State Park is such a massive place that it’s often faster to explore on wheels than on foot. Its length and wooded trails make it an inviting place to go mountain biking, but can you do that here?
You can go mountain biking at Letchworth State Park. The top trails for memorable rides are the Finger Lakes Trail, Genesee Valley Greenway, and Lee’s Landing Trail.
This guide to mountain biking at Letchworth is your go-to resource if you’re planning an excursion here.
I’ll recommend other top trails for exploring with your bike and share plenty of tips as you ride beside the Grand Canyon of the East!
Can You Ride a Mountain Bike at Letchworth State Park?
Mountain biking is a fun way to explore rugged terrain, of which Letchworth State Park has plenty. Your older kids might have been begging you all week to take the mountain bikes somewhere spectacular, but is this New York park somewhere you can ride?
Yes, Letchworth State Park allows mountain biking just as it does traditional cycling. In fact, the park has so many exceptional trails that it would be a shame not to experience them on a mountain bike at least once!
The Best 6 Trails for Mountain Biking at Letchworth State Park
So, without further ado, let’s dive right into your riding options for mountain biking through Letchworth State Park.
1. Letchworth Finger Lakes Trail
The Letchworth Finger Lakes Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park. The entire trail isn’t accessible to bikes, but the section near the Mount Morris Dam is.
You’ll begin your ride from the parking lot of the Hogsback Overlook. The trail takes you through the sights of the Genesee River, a steep gorge, tributaries, pine groves, and a creek.
The entire ride is 22 miles and is considered challenging for reasons beyond the length. As you get deeper into the ride, some of the tributaries are difficult to traverse, as they’re very steep.
For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend this trail as your kids’ first mountain biking trail at Letchworth. There are plenty of easier ones I’ll talk about in this section that you should begin with, then work your way up to this route.
Once you pass the tributaries, there are some fun hills to ride down that provide a nice reprieve from the hard work of crossing the creeks. However, the energy you conserved will go towards an uphill portion until you reach Dishmill Creek.
This is another tough stretch of road that becomes straight and flat before converging upon a gorge.
2. Trout Pond Trail Loop
Far more beginner-friendly, the Trout Pond Trail Loop is only a mile and should take about 12 to 15 minutes to complete on a bike, maybe less if you’re faster.
However, remember that the point is to enjoy the sights, not breeze through them!
The Trout Pond Trail Loop is a loop, as the name tells you, but a tight one. And it’s kid-friendly. Keep your eyes peeled for dogs on leashes and horses, as some park explorers like to do so on horseback.
3. Lee’s Landing Trail
Another easy beginner’s trail is Lee’s Landing Trail. You’ll begin your ride at the famous CCC Statue in the Lower Falls Area of the park. Then you’ll descend downhill for about 0.2 to 0.3 miles, which should inspire the kids to attempt this trail.
The entirety of Lee’s Landing Trail spans 1.4 miles, so it should take about 20 minutes to ride on a mountain bike, give or take. It’s moderately more challenging than the Trout Pond Trail Loop but not difficult in the slightest.
River views make the trail worth exploring, and its relatively predictable terrain is another upside. Hikers and walkers will use this trail in good weather, and you might see some anglers fishing for their latest catch.
4. Highbanks Trail
Beginning near the C Cabins and extending out nearly nine miles, the Highbanks Trail is a good one to add to your mountain biking list after conquering some of Letchworth’s easier trails, such as the Lee’s Landing Trail and the Trout Pond Trail Loop.
It’s an out-and-back trail where many mountain bikers converge, so you’re unlikely to be alone. Hikers also enjoy traversing this trail.
The trail requires a lot of zigging and zagging past the Mount Morris Dam & Recreation Area and the Highbanks Recreation Area until you reach the cabins. The path becomes a lot more straightforward after you pass the Highbanks Recreation Area, but it’s still difficult as a whole.
Given the length of the Highbanks Trail (approximately 8.6 miles), you should expect it will take you an hour or so to complete the trail on a mountain bike.
5. Genesee Valley Greenway
Are you ready to graduate to an even more challenging trail than the Highbanks Trail? The Genesee Valley Greenway is calling your name.
Grab your mountain bike, pack some supplies, and get ready to hit the trail. This moderately challenging out-and-back trail spans 16 miles and reaches a top elevation of 895 feet. You should set aside about three hours to complete it.
Finding where to start your ride is one of the toughest parts, as the Genesee Valley Greenway lacks signs, parking lots, or any other indicators, but a mowed trail does show you the way once you find it. More markers will appear as you continue the trail.
This straight-ahead path with some curves is barricaded in some parts. Do not try to pass through those areas. Other parts of the trail near the Upper Falls don’t have safety barriers, so please use caution if you ride along there.
Runners, mountain bikers, and hikers use the Genesee Valley Greenway a lot, and you might spot some leashed dogs too. The prime months for riding this trail are between April and October.
6. Letchworth Wildlife Trail Loop
Let’s end on an easy note with the Letchworth Wildlife Trail Loop. This is a 1.2-mile loop trail with 52 feet of elevation, so it’s quite easy to complete and will help the kids build their confidence on their mountain bikes.
This tree-lined trail takes under 30 minutes to complete. The trail is groomed and has plenty of signs to guide you through. Some mountain bikers have complained of roots, which will make it tougher to ride, so keep that in mind.
Letchworth State Park Mountain Biking Tips
Here are some handy safety tips to prevent any scrapes, bruises, or mishaps during your mountain biking excursion to Letchworth State Park.
Wear a helmet
Helmets save lives. Mom and Dad, model good biking behavior by wearing a helmet. This will make the kids feel less self-conscious about wearing theirs. A good fit for a bike helmet should be firmly on your head but never squeezing.
The helmet is too loose if you can fit more than two fingers under your helmet by your eyebrows, and it’s too tight if you can’t get at least that many fingers underneath.
You should be able to slide one finger below the chin strap, but no more than that. The V-shaped portion of the side straps should sit under your ears.
Give others the right of way
As a mountain biker, you must give park visitors the right of way, including people hiking or on horseback.
You don’t need to come to a dead stop, per se, but slow down and move to the right of the trail so whoever is passing by can do so safely. Then you can ride in the center of the trail as availability allows.
Start with small trails
Mountain biking is more difficult than traditional cycling, so even if you and your family have ridden on Letchworth’s roads before, you’re in for a different experience this time.
The park has many easy trails that attract mountain bikers, so start with those. If you finish the trail quickly, plan something else to do with the rest of your day, but nothing overly strenuous. You don’t want to exhaust the young ones too much.
With time, practice, and experience, you and the kids will feel ready to take on the challenge of the longer, more winding, rugged trails.
Check conditions before setting out
Conditions at Letchworth State Park change with the seasons and, even then, can shift by the day or week. Even if you know a trail well, you can’t say for sure that its conditions haven’t changed.
Check the park website to confirm any closures, reroutes, or issues that could prevent you from cycling where you want.