Canadice Lake Trail

  West side of Canadice Lake, Ontario County
Parking:  From Route 15A, turn east onto Purcell Hill Road. Find a dirt parking area on the north side, mid- way between Canadice Hollow Road and Canadice Lake Road.
Alternate Parking: Canadice Lake Road, approximately 3.5 miles south of Purcell Hill Road on west side of road (lake side)
Riding Time:  35 minutes one way
Length:  4 miles one way
Difficulty:  Easy, mostly level on the trail parallel to the lake. The loops up the hillside require technical mountain biking and are not currently well marked.
Surface:  Gravel and grass double-track
Trail Markings:  Green-and-white signs labeled with hiker silhouettes and Hemlock Canadice Watershed
Facilities: None
Dogs:   OK on leash
Admission:   Free, but pick up a permit
Contact:  City of Rochester, Water and Lighting Bureau, 7412 Rix Hill Road, Hemlock, NY 14466       (585) 428-3646

Long ago, Canadice Lake had cottages all along its shore. In 1872 the city of Rochester decided to use Canadice and Hemlock Lakes as a water supply. The first conduit for water was completed in 1876. By 1947 Rochester had purchased all of the shoreline property and removed the cottages in order to help protect the water supply for its growing population. Although it was very difficult for the cottage residents to leave their land, this area is now free of the commercialization that is so rampant on the other Finger Lakes. Ninety-foot-deep Canadice Lake is the smallest of the Finger Lakes, but it has the highest elevation, at 1,096 feet, one of the reasons it is such a good water supply for the city. Flow from Canadice Outlet Creek is diverted into the northern end of Hemlock Lake. From there the City of Rochester Water Bureau conditions the water for drinking and uses gravity to send it north for 29 miles via large pipes at a rate of up to 48 million gallons per 24-hour period. Early settlers tried to farm around Canadice Lake but found the glacially scoured land ill-suited for farming. Many areas around the lake were too steep or too wet for growing crops.

Today, the Hemlock and Canadice Lakes watershed continues to be Rochester's primary source of drinking water. The watershed covers more than 40,000 acres of land, of which Rochester owns 7,000 acres. A second-growth forest now prospers on the once forested land, and many abandoned farm fields have been reforested with conifers. Bald eagles are now present in the area.

To protect city property and the supply of drinking water, the city asks that all visitors obtain a Watershed Visitor Permit, one of the easiest
permits to obtain. Just stop at the visitor's self-serve, permit station located at the north end of Hemlock Lake on Rix Hill Road off Route 15A.  There are no fees or forms to fill out, but the permit document details the do's and don'ts to help keep the area pristine, so it's important to read it. Swimming and camping are not permitted. Boats up to 16 feet long with motors up to 10 horsepower are okay. The permit also has a detailed map showing additional hiking trails.

You may also want to continue west on Rix Hill Road to beautiful Hemlock Lake Park, which has restrooms, a pavilion with grills, and even a gazebo. The exceptionally well-managed watershed area contains a variety of trees, including hemlock, beech, oak, maple, hickory, basswood, and white, red and scotch pine. In addition, if you care to fish, the lake has salmon, trout, and panfish. Or try your hand at bird watching. You may see kingfishers, herons, ospreys, as well as bald eagles near the water. The relatively undisturbed forest along the trail is ideal habitat for several woodpecker species. Also, the narrow lake and forested shoreline create excellent sighting opportunities for spring and autumn migrating warblers and other songbirds.
Trail Directions

-From the parking area, head south past the gate. (The trail, an abandoned town road, meanders back and forth through oak, maple, tulip poplar, and conifer trees, but is never very far from the lake. See if you can spot the old cottage foundations along the way.)
-Pass 5 trails to your right. (You can bike these, but they are steep dirt paths with sharp bends. Only attempt them with a mountain bike.)
-At the end of the lake, the trail turns left (E) onto gravel.
-At the bench you have a choice. You can continue straight and soon arrive at another gated trail entrance off of Canadice Lake Road, or you can turn right to explore a circle trail with a bench in the center. Off the circle is another trail that also takes you to Canadice Lake Road.


Date Enjoyed: ___________