New York

Rob's Trail Preserve

Rob’s Trail Preserve is a memorial trail nestled among the high ridges and rolling hills of the Finger Lakes. Completed in 2008, the trail was built to connect two undeveloped lakeshore properties between Hemlock and Canadice Lakes—properties owned by the City of Rochester to protect drinking water supply. 

The Central & Western Chapter of The Nature Conservancy built this trail to honor the memory of Rob van der Stricht, our esteemed board chair who passed away in 2006. Rob was an avid birder, canoeist, and fisherman who carried a broad smile and a pair of binoculars everywhere he went. He was especially fond of the Finger Lakes, particularly Hemlock and Canadice. His commitment to preserving nature inspired us all, and The Nature Conservancy officially dedicated this trail to his memory.

Once a hardwood forest converted to cropland, Rob’s Trail showcases ecological communities, scenic vistas and geological features typical of the Finger Lakes Region. A 1.75-mile loop trail offers views of steep valleys and characteristic ridgelines. A 0.75-mile spur trail teases hikers with glimpses of Canadice Lake as one hikes down to the City of Rochester’s lakeside Canadice Trail. As succession continues, the property will eventually revert back to northern hardwood forest.

Hemlock and Canadice are the only Finger Lakes with undeveloped shorelines. In the 1890s the City of Rochester began acquiring lakeshore properties to prevent development of the watershed and to safeguard its primary source of drinking water.

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Rob’s Trail is open to the public from dawn to dusk. The preserve features a 1.75-mile Loop Trail with easy walking through a variety of early successional plant communities and a 0.75-mile Connector Trail that offers a strenuous hike on a steep, minimally maintained trail, but rewards hikers with access to Canadice Lake. 

Take a moment to review the trailhead kiosk, which introduces Rob van der Stricht and describes the geological forces that created the Finger Lakes. Be careful on the trails as they may be wet or uneven. No pets, please.

This trail connects the last two undeveloped shorelines in the Finger Lakes, Hemlock and Canadice Lakes.

Download a map of this preserve.

Bald eagles nest at the south end of Hemlock Lake and may be seen kettling overhead. In the successional woodland keep an eye out for migrating warblers, turkeys and ruffed grouse. Deer and weasels can also be spotted on occasion. Bees and butterflies harvest nectar from the abundant asters and goldenrods in the fall.

Rob’s Trail passes through several types of habitats, from old-field herbaceous plants to mature hardwood forest, a journey that mirrors the changes that will happen here over the next 100 years. Mature trees include white oak, sugar maple, and shagbark hickory. Clones of green ash form uniform stands. Goldenrod, buckthorn, native gray dogwood, turtlehead, and closed gentian can also be found here.

This 170-acre preserve is located in Livingston County, NY.


From the NY state Thruway (I-90) in western NY:

  • Take Interstate 390 south to Exit 11
  • Take NYS Route 251 east to Rush
  • Take NYS Route 15A south through Hemlock
  • Continue up the hill to South Old Bald Hill Road.
  • Preserve sign is on the left. 


From Interstate 86/17 in the southern tier:

  • Take Interstate 390 North to Exit 3
  • Take NYS Route 15 north to Springwater
  • Take NYS Route 15A north to South Old Bald Hill Road
  • Look for preserve sign on the right. 

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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