Bird's eye view of a forest with green, burnt orange, and yellow trees and a river on the upper righthand side.
Rob's Trail Hemlock Lake Aerial view of Rob's Trail in the fall. © Mat Levine/TNC

Places We Protect

Rob's Trail Preserve

New York

Set out on trails that connect two undeveloped Finger Lakes.

PLEASE NOTE: Rob's Trail Preserve is open during hunting season (Oct 1 - Dec 22). Written permission is required to hunt on Conservancy lands. To learn about our hunting program or to obtain permission to hunt, please visit our New York hunting information page.


Rob’s Trail Preserve is a collection of memorial trails nestled among the high ridges and rolling hills of the Finger Lakes. Completed in 2008, Rob’s Trail—Canadice was built to connect two undeveloped lakeshore properties that protect Hemlock and Canadice Lakes, the main source of Rochester’s drinking water supply. With the help of donors and volunteers, a new trail, Rob’s Trail—Hemlock Lake, was built in 2016 that makes it possible to hike from one lake to the other.

The Central & Western Chapter of The Nature Conservancy built these trails 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.

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

Rob’s Trail is open to the public from dawn to dusk. The preserve features the following trails:

  • Loop Trail - 1.75 miles
  • Candice Lake Trail - .75 miles
  • Hemlock Trail - 4.8 miles
    • To shoreline - 1.5 miles
    • To boat launch - 4.8 miles
  • Connector Trail - .28 miles

Take a moment to review the trailhead kiosks, which describe the trails, the property’s import role in protecting drinking water and the geological forces that created the Finger Lakes. Be careful on the trails as they may be wet or uneven. Please be advised the spur trail to Canadice Lake is a challenging trail that is steep and minimally maintained.

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.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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