Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail
Location: From Hannum Road in Mayville to Town Line Road at the NY-PA border south of Panama
Hours: Open year round
Facilities: Varies along the length of the trail. There are 2 lean-tos for overnight camping.
Trails: Approximately 24 miles, light blue blazes, crosses State, County, and private lands. No ATVs or horses. Hiking, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, and mountain biking permitted.
Notable: Starts (or ends) at the Hannum Road Entrance to Chautuaqua Gorge
Dogs: There are no signs about pets. Be responsible.
The Full Scoop:
The trail map divides the 24-mile trail into sections with points labelled A through S. This is a work in progress. As I hike each section, I’ll describe it…
Section A-B is reported on the map to be 1.5 miles, starting at the Hannum Road picnic and camping area and continuing to the point where the trail hits Summerdale Road. From point A to point B, the trail rises slowly, except for one dip down to a streambed. There are footbridges in spots where it is obviously wet at certain times of the year. There is a section as you near Summerdale Road that is covered with limestone or crushed concrete, presumably to combat muddy conditions. There is one spot where this section of trail crosses a mainteance road. Wooden signs make it clear where the trail goes. This section is all wooded and passes through a New York State Reforestation Area.
When you get to Summerdale Road, there is a sign telling you that the trail continues 1 mile up the road. I clocked it in my car and the distance from one sign to the next is only .4 or .5 miles.
Note: there is one spot on the map marked “B”. On the trail, there are two signs marked “B” – both on Summerdale Road. The northern most sign which goes west from the road leads you back to point A – the Hannum Road entrance to Chautauqua Gorge. The southern sign which goes east from the road continues on to point “C”.
Section B-C is pictured on the map above as a straight line going through private property between Summerdale Road and Route 430. The way the map is drawn, it might lead you to believe that it is a pretty easy section of trail. I hiked it in late August of 2007 and found more challenging than the map indicates. It wasn’t horrible, mind you! But… There are are several parts of the trail where you descend to a creek, the out again, for example, and these climbs are quite steep. In addtion, the trail is not nearly as straight as pictured. It had rained for a couple of days previous to my hike and the trail was a tad muddy. I would imagine that in other seasons, when the creeks are higher, it could get to be very muddy. Most of the trail is in deciduous forest. There is one section where you hike an edge – between forest and open field.
I can imagine that the section from Point C to D – just under a mile – would make for very pretty and very easy cross-country skiing. There are no steep parts to this section – just nice wide paths with very gentle inclines.
While the entire C-G section passes through State Land, the trail sometimes goes along the border between the state land and privately owned land. In the summer of 2007 when I hiked this section, there was a spot between D (Brodt Road) and E (Brumagin Road) that was being timbered and another spot that looked as though it was being cleared for a new gas well site (though I’m guessing about that). These two sites will be prettier when the projects are finished, I’m sure.
From the parking area on Route 430 (Point C on the trail map), it is 3.6 miles to the leantos at Point F. There are two leantos – each with its own picnic table - on a small section of land owned by the County. The day I visited (a Saturday in mid-August), the sites were immaculate. There is a hand pump here providing cool, tasty water.
Another mile past the leantos just before you get to Titus Road at Point G is a pretty little beaver pond. A few years back I back-packed in from Titus Road and the beavers were very active here, making crossing the end of the pond quite a challenge. Since that time, a boardwalk has been installed. I’m not sure how effective it would be in spring after the snowmelt… but on a mid-August day, it kept my feet dry!
August 10, 2008
Terry and I (and Mozart and Lolli) hiked a 2-mile section of the trail starting at the southern most parking spot – point “S” on the trail map. We hiked north toward point “R”, but because we started late in the day, we never reached it. As it was, we returned to my car in the rain… Which I anticipated, and therefore did not bring my camera.
It’s a very nice section of trail, to be sure. Much of this section goes through NYS Reforestation plots and there is a combination of conifers and hardwoods. The sections that go through private land are also wooded, and if it weren’t for the “Posted” signs (some of which have been abused by hikers), you might not notice the difference. We hiked through all of the first NYS Reforestation plot, over some private land, and part way into the next NYS Plot. This section is mostly level, but there were several gentle inclines scattered here and there, with level sections to help you catch your breath.
The trail crosses several small creeks, each with a wooden bridge. Most of the bridges seemed to be in fine shape, but one was missing a handrail.
Because we’ve had a lot of rain, the trail was decorated with loads of colorful fungi! Orange, yellow, red, tan, white, purple, black, brown,… Some of them were quite astounding.
To be continued…