Improvements made on the Keuka Outlet Trail
Friends of the Outlet complete major projects to return Cascade Millsite to its natural beauty.
TORREY — The Friends of the Outlet have recently completed several projects to improve the safety and security of the Keuka Outlet Trail Preservation Area, with impressive support from Yates County, the towns of Milo and Torrey, the villages of Penn Yan and Dresden, and several area businesses, individuals, and organizations.
“During this year of pandemic, there has been a growing interest in outdoor spaces where exercise and recreation are safe. That has brought new visitors to Yates County to enjoy the beauty of the Keuka Outlet Preservation Area, home to the historic Keuka Outlet Trail,” says Friends of the Outlet President Phillip Rahr.
Since 2018 the Friends of the Outlet have worked to make safety and security improvements on the trail along with introducing other additions that enhance the trail experience. Rahr says the improvements completed over the past months were made possible by the hard work of dedicated volunteers, donations of time, workforce, funds, equipment and supplies, and the foresight of local leadership.
In late 2017, the Yates County Legislature established a policy for funding Natural and Recreational Resources, using a portion of local occupancy tax revenue. In 2018 the Friends of the Outlet were awarded a grant of $18,000 to help pay for safety and security improvements, and in 2019, the Friends were awarded $15,000 to construct a new pavilion near the Cascade Falls area.
“The Friends of the Outlet are grateful to the Yates County Legislature for its support through the Natural and Recreational Resources grant program, which is using funds brought to the county by visitors to improve this important geological and historical attraction,” says Rahr.
Combining those funds with donations from local businesses, towns, villages, and individuals, the Friends have completed more than $66,000 worth of improvements that make the trail safer and more beautiful. Most of those grant funds were spent at businesses within Yates County. And those businesses and others also donated more than $25,000 in services, supplies, and equipment.
In all, the following projects have been completed:
• Improved and secured a previously vandalized building to house trail maintenance equipment and a video security system
• Improved the trail surface and drainage in areas of high traffic
• Installed safety railings
• Expanded the parking area at Mays Mills
• Built a new pavilion at Cascade Mills
• Demolished dangerous eyesore structures at Cascade, resulting in a more natural, open space with improved access to the water, and cleared an area to show the canal prism at Cascade
• Improved the parking area at the Dresden Trailhead
The Friends of the Outlet extend deep gratitude to the following groups and individuals for their contributions to these projects:
Town of Milo Highway Dept.
Town of Torrey Highway Dept.
Village of Dresden Streets Dept.
Village of Penn Yan Public Works Dept.
JJ Covell Tree Service
City Hill Excavation
Yates County Soil & Water Conservation District
Hansen Memorial Fund
David Sauder, Apex Equipment
Melvin Martin and sons
Ivan Oberholtzer & family
Penn Yan Lions members
Keuka College Men’s Lacrosse team
Eagle Scout Gavin Ingle
Daisy Troop #61087
In addition to the work completed by Friends of the Outlet, the Village of Penn Yan has worked on visual and infrastructure improvements along its portion of the trail, clearing brush between Lake Street and Cherry Street, building two new pedestrian bridges, and completing a major bank stabilization project to protect the trail from erosion.
Along with the visible improvements along the trail that were made possible by grants and donations, other Friends of the Outlet volunteers were busy this year clearing debris, building new side trails, and installing more interpretive signs.
In 2019, scouting groups built fences and railings and a flower bed at Seneca Millsite. Printing 10,000 historic trail guides and 600 Outlet Trail books, along with in-person programs and videos featuring some of the edible plants found along the trail were funded by occupancy tax-generated funds awarded by the county’s Tourism Advisory Committee.
With this community support, the Keuka Outlet Trail will continue to help Yates County residents, visitors, and businesses connect with nature and with each other. The Friends of the Outlet will launch its annual fund-raising campaign soon, seeking support for more improvements that are being planned for 2021.
Friends of the Outlet is an all-volunteer non-profit organization formed to preserve and protect the Keuka Outlet Trail Preservation area. A dedicated team of volunteers maintain and improve about six miles of the trail that follows the Keuka Outlet (previously known as Minnesetah River). As the former tow path for the Crooked Lake Canal (1833-1877), and a rail bed from 1879 to 1972, the trail is listed on the national register of historic places. The area includes several remains of early mills and local factories in addition to remnants of canal locks, and two sets of waterfalls. The trail is open from dawn to dusk daily, year round, for use by hikers, bicyclists, anglers, horseback riders, snowmobilers, cross country skiers, birdwatchers, and more.
For more information about the Friends of the Outlet, visit www.KeukaOutletTrail.org. or follow the Keuka Outlet Trail on Facebook.