Skip to main content

U.S. Forest Service

Eastern Region Viewing Area


Cypripedium acaule. Pink lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium acaule) blooms in spring. Photo by Gudrun Keszocze.

Aralia nudicaulis. Wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) flowers bloom underneath their leaves. Photo by Gudrun Keszocze.

Trillium erectum. Red trillium (Trillium erectum) is one of the first flowers to bloom each spring. Photo by Melissa Green.

Gorge Trail

Region: Eastern Region

Forest: Finger Lakes National Forest

District: Hector Ranger District

Description: Many opportunities exist to see wildflowers on the Finger Lakes National Forest in New York. One of the most floristically diverse sites on the Forest is the Gorge Trail, on the southern end of the Forest. The trail follows a gorge between Mark Smith Road and Burnt Hill Road, traversing through a number of forest communities, including a variety of hardwoods, a red pine stand, and a hemlock ravine. Tulip-tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), uncommon on the Forest, is one of at least 27 species of trees that can be seen along the trail.

Some of the many wildflowers visible in the spring include blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), and pink lady’s-slippers (Cypripedium acaule). Later in the summer, several species of aster (Aster sp.) and goldenrod (Solidago sp.) are visible. A variety of ferns can be seen anytime during the growing season. Close to 90 species of wildflowers, ferns, shrubs, and trees occur along the trail. The best time for seeing the most blooming wildflowers is usually late spring.

Safety First: The trail can be slippery in places, and careful footing is advised.

Directions: Mark Smith Road and Burnt Hill Road can both be accessed by turning north off State Highway 79 in Hector. The trail head on Mark Smith Road is about ¾ mile north of 79, and the trail head on Burnt Hill Road is about 2½ miles north of 79. The trail is about 1.25 miles long.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Finger Lakes National Forest.

Closest Town: Reynoldsville, New York.