Enjoy traveling around this gorgeous land of lakes and vineyards. We will be riding 3 of the distinctive Finger Lakes, passing by Canandaigua, Seneca, and Keuka Lakes, with an abundance of wonderful biking. Cycle along the lakeshores, riding past waterfalls, orchards, vineyards, and spectacular views. Relax at our lakefront lodging on Canandaigua Lake. Discover the beauty of Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua, strolling through the nationally famous color gardens established there in the mid 1800’s. We’ll pass sprawling fields of colorful crops, like sunflowers on Canandaigua Lake and rolling vineyards on Keuka and Seneca Lakes. Enjoy tandeming along valleys, hills, and across farmlands with quiet country roads. Taste the best of New York State – great food at restaurants overlooking the water, fine wines like Merlots and Chardonnays from vineyards overlooking Seneca Lake, and grape pies from farms near Canandaigua Lake. Explore the wonderful Watkins Glen gorge, where rippling waterfalls cut through the deep stone. Learn about the early days of bike, motorcycle, and flying inventions at the Hammondsport Glen Curtiss Museum. Enjoy the distinctive character of Hammondsport by Keuka Lake. As you ride, you’ll discover why this region of New York State has been valued as a beautiful summer getaway.
The tour package includes:
Day 1 Nature and History - Ride from Elmira to Watkins Glen
Rides of 23 and 42 miles
We will meet at 9:00am at Rich and Lindy’s house, load luggage, and start the ride by 10:00am. The ride does an initial climb out of Elmira, over to a rolling valley, then down the ridge into Montour Falls.
This area has a wonderful history. Montour Falls itself is worth a stop, to wander through the downtown 19th century buildings at the historic “T” intersection at West Main St. We’re always amazed at the circular columns made from brick. Stop by She-Qua-Ga Falls a ½ block to the left (south) of West Main St.
After Montour Falls, continue heading north past the Queen Catharine Marsh into Watkins Glen. You’ll be passing by the Watkins Glen State Park, filled with gorges and waterfalls. Race fans can stop by the International Motor Research Center, over one block from the main road on Decatur and Grandview.
Day 2 Past Orchards and Vineyards – Up the East Coast of Seneca Lake
Rides of 29, 35 and 40 miles
Seneca Lake is the deepest of the Finger Lakes, with steep sides cut by streams and waterfalls. The ~40 mile Winery Ride climbs up along Seneca’s coast. . You can stop at one of the wineries for lunch (Wagner’s Ginny Lee Café, Red Newt Winery, or Logans Run). Continue riding along the east coast of Seneca Lake and then swing up to the ridge east of Seneca. There is a 1 ¼ mile section of unpaved road on this route. The outbound of this route allows you to ride past many of Lindy’s favorite wineries, where you can stop and sample their wines! Wineries are clustered along this road because of the great growing conditions here in the Finger Lakes.
There is a 29 miles option with less climb, traveling up and back along Seneca’s east coast on Route 414. Or take a rest day and hike the Glen at Watkins, a wonderful series of waterfalls open to the public since 1864. Stroll downtown Watkins Glen, enjoying the bakery, antique shops and specialty stores.
Dinner is on your own.
Day 3 Across the Ridge to Canandaigua
Rides of 49 and 50 miles
The glaciers that carved these lakes also left ridges of land between them. We’ve laid out rides that give the most gradual climbs through farmlands overlooking the lakes. The easier route of 49 miles travels initially up the west coast of Seneca on a busier road, and then swings west onto country roads. The 50.4-mile route has an initially more difficult climb, and then has a very pretty ride along the ridge, meeting up with the easier option.
Penn Yan is a midway point for both rides for a stop. You can visit the local Oliver House Museum (200 Main St.) and see a touch of how physicians lived during Victorian times. We end along Lake Shore Drive, arriving at Canandaigua’s Inn on the Lake, our home for the next two days. Located directly on Canandaigua Lake, this is the premier hotel in the area.
Food’s important after a long day. Tonight we’ve arranged for a group dinner at Koozina’s, “a lovely Ontario County attraction” Italian restaurant within walking distance of the motel.
Day 4 Around Beautiful (and Hilly) Canandaigua Lake
Rides of 20, 33, 41 and 49 miles
Canandaigua is a beautiful lake, with a great overlook on the east coast. All three rides give you the chance to see this wonderful view, with a bit more climb than the other days. The East Coast Ride, 32.7 miles, runs along some of the less frequented parts of the lake. Or ride around the whole lake, either 48.6 miles, which gives you a chance to visit Naples as a mid-way point. These are wonderful rides, past fields of sunflowers and grapes, and the many lake cottages. We will ride through Vine Valley. The high banks of the area are wild, steep, and tremendous.
Or you can take the ride over the ridge to the northern end of Seneca Lake. This is a more gentle ride of 42 miles. There is a great lunch stop at the Belhurst Castle on the lake. This is a wonderful Victorian mansion with great food and wonderful interior. There is also a mid-point cut-off on this ride if you are just looking for an easy 21 mile ride.
Or take a rest day. Canandaigua has a community spirit and focus on arts and crafts. Sonnenberg Gardens is a famous Victorian mansion and flower garden that is well worth visiting. Rich has included a map to Sonnenberg. Other museums and shops provide a chance to walk and enjoy. Stokers may enjoy stopping by the Country Ewe, a great clothing storeJ.
Day 5 Over the Ridge to Hammondsport and Keuka Lake
Rides of 39 and 42 miles
We turn south to ride through farm country to the southern tip of Keuka Lake and the village of Hammondsport. The glaciers created ~3 ridges between Canandaigua and Keuka Lake. We’ve plotted out 2 ride options to minimize the hills from these ridges, but this is still a hilly day. Both rides follow the same route for ~24 miles. Rest stops are few, so we would recommend stopping at the Hitching Post Restaurant in Potter Town. The Hitching Post has great ice cream, sandwiches, and other food, and a rest room. It is a fun country place, where the locals will be talking about those tandem bikes for ages after.
The next possible rest stop is at the northwest end of Keuka Lake in Branchport. From here you have two choices of routes for finishing the day’s ride. There is an 800 feet difference in climb between the long and short routes, and it’s a tough extra 800 feet. The longer route climbs up to the ridge that runs parallel to the lakeshore. It will pass four local wineries: Hunt Country, Dr. Frank, Heron Hill, and Bully Hill. Stop and take some tastings! The shorter option runs along Keuka Lake’s west coast, with rolling ups and downs.
Hammondsport is the cradle of wine country. Dr. Frank Konstantine, Bully Hill, and Heron Hill wineries overlook Keuka Lake and make great wines. The Greyton H. Taylor Wine Museum at Bully Hill has exhibitions of early wine production. Down in the valley is the Glen Curtiss Museum of early aviation. As well as bike and recreation vehicle innovations!
Dinner is on your own. Restaurants and a pub overlook the Hammondsport Village Square.
Day 6 Around Keuka Lake
Rides of 45 and 58 miles
The ride around Keuka Lake is one of the favorite rides for local cyclists in the Finger Lakes region, because of how close the lake is to the road. Ride around the complete lake, including its Bluff Point, a ride of ~58 miles. Bluff Point has a wonderful view looking south. Or ride the ~45 mile option, which skips the Bluff Point area. Lots of short, rolling hills with one additional climb at Bluff Point (only 300 ft.). Branchport is a mid-way location for a rest break. The east coast of Keuka Lake has a small road that comes back and forth to Rt. 54, the main, busier road. It is worth finding its many entrances, which we’ve tried to mark on the cue sheet, as it is more scenic and shaded, with less traffic than the main road.
Later, visit the Glenn Curtiss Museum of early aviation or stroll downtown. Or relax by the lake before our final group dinner.
Day 7 Return to Elmira along the Chemung River
Ride 45 miles
Our last transfer day and finally a relatively flat one.
We head down the valley below Keuka Lake, then skirt around Bath, passing one more lake, Lake Salubria. Passing under Route 86 (formerly Rt 17), we turn east along the Chemung River. This is a great, quiet country road. Note it has railroad crossings – be cautious! We ride at times very close to the river, along a shaded lane. One ½ mile section of road is rough, but very rideable.
Our route passes through little towns, then on to Painted Post and through Corning, NY. Pause in Corning and see the Corning Museum of Glass, Rockwell Museum of Western Art, or shop downtown. We know you might want to hurry back to get ready to travel, but Corning is well worth a stop.
The ride then follows Route 352 to Elmira and our house. Sorry the tour has to end. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!
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