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Use of the Finger Lakes Trail

The Cayuga Trails Club is responsible for maintenance of about 100 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail System. Many of the club’s hikes are on sections of the FLT System.

Who can use the Finger Lakes Trail

The entire FLT System is open for use by the general public with no fees charged for its use.

The trail system is designated as a footpath and is intended for foot travel only – hiking, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. Motorized vehicles, bikes, snowmobiles, and horses are not permitted unless specifically approved by the landowner or public authority having jurisdiction. It is recommended that groups be kept as small as possible, particularly for back-packing when the size should not exceed 10 persons.

Trail sections on private property

Some sections of the trail are on private property with the kind permission of the landowners. Permission to hike on these sections is granted on the condition that hikers respect the preferences of the landowner. These sections are subject to the following restrictions:

  • All trail sections on private land are closed for 24 hours on the first Monday of February each year.
  • Some sections of the trail on private land are closed during hunting seasons. This may include turkey season in May and deer season in October, November and December. Specific closures are listed on FLTC maps and on the FLTC website under Trail Conditions.
  • Some sections may have specific restrictions posted on the property.

The FLT is allowed to cross private property due entirely to:

  1. the generosity of the landowners who receive no compensation
  2. the hard work of past trails club leaders, who began a working relationship with these landowners.

Please help us maintain a premier hiking trail and do not violate these closings or posted restrictions.

Vehicle Parking

Some parking locations are along road; in this case, be sure to park well off the road surface. If you are going to leave a car for several days it is best to avoid roadside parking. Inquiring locally or through the local sheriff may provide a safe and legal parking location. In any event, do not leave any valuables visible in the vehicle. Winter conditions often make it impossible to use designated parking locations.


  • Do not park on private property or near homes.
  • Do not turn around using a private driveway; instead, find an intersection or wide place on the road away from homes.

How to find the Finger Lakes Trail

Normally, all trailheads and trail road crossings are marked with a one-foot square yellow sign with a green FLT logo. Other locations are marked with 3-inch white or orange disks with the FLT logo. The trail is marked with 2″ x 6″ vertical paint or plastic blazes on trees, poles, and posts along the entire route, except in the Catskill Forest Preserve where the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) trail disks are used. Blazes are visible when traveling in either direction. Normally, when you are at one blaze, you can see the next blaze further down the trail. On some roads and well-defined trail the blazes may be a little farther apart.

Single blazes are used to identify the route. Double blazes, one above the other, are caution signs for you to look for a turn off from the general direction of travel or other situations for which you should be alert:

Hiking the Finger Lakes Trail

Planning a hike

Plan your hiking or backpacking trip well. Know where you will be going by studying up-to-date maps and guides. The latest FLT trail condition reports of problems can be found on the FLT web site and on the Notices page for CTC trails and CTC sections of the FLT. Have the proper clothing, equipment, and gear for the trip you are planning. Make a trip plan listing where and when you are starting and finishing. If a multi-day trip, the location of where you expect to camp each night should be listed. Take a copy with you and leave a copy with a responsible person, so the person can alert authorities if you do not return as scheduled. On extended trips, plan to check in every four or five days.

Overnight camping locations are shown on FLTC maps. They may be lean-tos or other campsites along the trail. Campsites are generally primitive with only a fire ring. Camping is permitted on state forest land for up to three days in the same location, provided you set up camp at least 150 feet from the trail, a stream, or other source of water. Groups consisting of more than nine people must get a permit from the DEC. Camping is not permitted in state wildlife management areas, except with permission from the DEC. Camping is allowed in state parks at designated sites only. Backpackers are expected to share facilities at any lean-to or campsite with others desiring to use the facility. Groups of more than four persons should provide their own tents when camping at lean-to sites in state forests. Lean-tos and campsites are not intended for long-term occupancy; therefore, backpackers should limit overnight stays to one night.

Trail conduct


All water along the trail system must be treated in some manner to make it safe for drinking. Methods include boiling for 5 minutes, using water purification tablets, or filtration. Because of the parasite Giardia lamblia found in much of the backwoods water supplies, it is especially important to treat all water, even if you drank it before with no problems. There is some question as to the effectiveness of water purification tablets and some filters to kill or remove Giardia cysts. For best protection, obtain an appropriate filtering device from a reputable backpacking outfitter.

Be careful not to contaminate any water supplies by personal washing, equipment washing, or human waste disposal in or near water supplies.


Use only dead and down wood for campfires. Be sure that you do not leave a fire unattended and when you leave the campsite be sure the fire is totally out. If possible, use water to put out the fire. Place your hand near ashes to be sure they are cold. Be careful of fires near tents.


Use a trail stove for cooking. Suitable firewood is often in short supply around a campsite or lean-to. Do not cook or prepare food in lean-tos. Spilled food attracts animals that come later. It is very dangerous to use a stove in a tent and to cook in such close quarters.

Food storage and disposal

Since you will probably not be using any foods requiring refrigeration, the biggest concern will be animals at night. Remove all food from your pack and tent and put in a “bear bag” and suspend it with rope from a tree branch at least 4 feet from the trunk and 12 feet above the ground. Better yet, consider a bear-resistant food canister.

Dispose of leftover food by burning if you have a campfire. Otherwise, carry out food waste with you in a plastic garbage bag. Remember to remove any non-burnable material, such as cans, aluminum foil, glass, and bottle caps, from the campfire and carry them out.


Outhouses are located at many lean-tos and should be used when available. Otherwise, dig a 4- to 6-inch hole, 200 feet or more from campsite and water. Cover completely with dirt after use.

Take only pictures and leave only footprints

Take out what you brought in. Clean up the trail and campsite leaving it better than you found it. If you bring a pet, keep it under control and bury its waste to protect water supplies. Do not disturb plants or animals.

Rights of landowners

Respect the rights of landowners. Stay on the trail, don’t take shortcuts or walk on crops, and do not camp or build fires unless at a designated campsite. If asked by a landowner not to use the trail to cross his or her property, please comply and then report the situation to the FLTC by sending an email to


The FLTC website sells maps printed by the FLTC. There are currently 66 FLT maps available that cover the entire trail system. GPX files for instant download for use with smart phones and GPS devices are also available. The main FLTC maps have a scale of 1 inch to the mile and some branch trail maps are 3 inches to the mile. All maps have descriptions of the trail, and indicate mileages from point to point. All maps are 8.5 x 11″ and printed by color laser printer on waterproof “Rite in the Rain” paper. In addition to the paper maps, an interactive map of the entire Finger Lakes Trail system, including all trails in the Cayuga Trails Club region, is available on the FLTC website. This interactive map is useful for hike planning and finding the general location of trailheads and campsites. The FLTC also has guidebooks describing the entire FLT system which is available from the FLTC Service Center, 6111 Visitor Center Road, Mt. Morris, NY 14510, 585-658-9320, or on the FLTC website.