Triple Divide Trail System
This map provides the current bicycle route of the Triple Divide Trail System (TDTS), which is now fully use-able in its new 2019 form. The TDTS leads cyclists through an emerging eco-corridor extending from Lake Ontario in Rochester, NY, to the Susquehanna River near Williamsport, PA, via the Genesee River (NY & PA), a triple continental divide (Potter County, PA), and Pine Creek (PA). Like the experience of many other trails, a ride on the TDTS tells a story. The signature role of the triple continental divide enables the TDTS to tell a story about the connectivity of water, rivers, and ecosystems in a way that few other trails can do.
Map Credit: Allen Kerkeslager
The Trail System
The designated bicycle route of the Triple Divide Trail System (TDTS) consists of the following sections from north to south:
The Genesee Riverway Trail in Rochester, NY (paved);
Letchworth State Park from Mt. Morris to Portageville, NY, via Park Road (paved; see map for alternatives for this section, including a single-track mountain bike option and a rail-trail option);
A mixed-surface multi-use trail, from Portageville, NY, to Ansonia, PA (partly paved, mostly on low-traffic rural roads; partly gravel, including both municipal and state forestry roads; and partly rail-trail, on the WAG Trail);
The Pine Creek Gorge via the Pine Creek Trail (rail-trail). Near its northern terminus, the TDTS intersects in Rochester with the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, which is part of the 750-mile-long Empire State Trail. Near its planned southern terminus in Williamsport, the TDTS intersects in Jersey Shore, PA, with the Susquehanna Greenway, which eventually will include a bicycle trail extending to Chesapeake Bay.
The mapped route of the Triple Divide Trail System from Rochester, NY, to Jersey Shore, PA, is best enjoyed on a bicycle with wide mountain bike tires, with hybrid tires at a minimum. The long-term plan is to gradually shift many of the miles now on roads to parallel off-road trails. But with the completely bike-able route now provided on the new 2019 map, there is no need to wait to enjoy a scenic "Triple Divide Ride."
The Triple Continental Divide: A Story of Three Watersheds
Telling the story of the three watersheds that begin at the triple continental divide is one of the defining goals of the TDTS. Due to practical considerations, its primary focus is only on two of the three watersheds that originate in the region. More technically, the mission of the TDTS is to restore, protect, and enjoy the Genesee River and Pine Creek by raising their profiles as resources for outdoor recreation and sustainable economic development. Enhancing the role of these watersheds in recreation and economic development broadens the stakeholder support needed for increasing the acreage of forested riparian (streamside) buffers along this corridor. Forested riparian buffers improve stream water quality, mitigate flooding and erosion, provide more habitat for fish & wildlife, and help curb climate change. One of the core elements in this ecosystem-based approach to watershed conservation is the integration of a multi-use trail in which the priority users are bicyclists who prefer an off-road experience.
The original strategic plan for the Triple Divide Trail System was developed in 2010-2011 by the collaborative efforts of public agencies, local municipalities, small community groups, and volunteer advocates in NY & PA. This plan is still available in a 61-page pdf produced by Genesee River Wilds, a tiny 501(c)3 non-profit community watershed organization devoted to restoring, protecting, and enjoying the upper Genesee River from its sources in PA to the current southern boundary of Letchworth State Park in Portageville, NY (geneseeriverwilds.com). Key elements of this plan were subsequently adopted in other formal planning documents in NY and PA. Implementation of these plans depends on the continuing collaboration of many groups and proactive individuals, without whom progress on such a grand scale is impossible. Even cyclists who just want to ride the trail make a major contribution. So have fun!