I grew up in the Southtowns, so I know my way around them pretty well. That is why I was so surprised when I was told about a great hiking location that I had never heard of. Right on the border of North Collins and Eden lies an undeveloped park called Franklin Gulf Park. This county conservation park is a hidden gem that makes for a great, peaceful hike through a seemingly undisrupted environment.
Since my own father grew up around Boston and Eden and didn’t know about this park, I knew I had to take him along with me. After making our way through the little town of Eden on Route 62, we turned left onto Sandrock Rd. After a couple of bends in the road, we took another left on to Larkin Rd. As we drove down this street, we noticed the woods to the right of us were peppered with yellow signs that declared them county property. Further down the road, right by the green sign that marks the North Collins border, there was a small gravel pull off on the right. This was the parking lot, and where the trails begin.
The trails are marked with colored dots on the trees. They are mostly just beaten down paths that have been well travelled and eventually marked and mapped. This style of path further showed how little this park has been altered by mankind. There are also suggested “bushwhack” trails that can be found online at www.wnytrails.com. These are trails that you typically forge on your own.
We took the red and orange path, which was approximately a three mile round trip. It takes you into the center of the park along the ravine. The further into the woods you travel, the lower you go until you reach the stream that runs through this ravine, and the little waterfalls it creates. However, you do not reach this point without passing the Girl Scout SWAP Box, and the remaining foundation of the Larkin Cabin, believed to be the escape of Larkin Soap Company founder John D. Larkin.
After crossing the stream, the trail continues through an open field where a power line runs, and then hits a snowmobile trail. You can climb up the snow mobile trail and loop back to the ravine crossing using the orange trail, or just turn around and take the red one back.
My father, a seasoned outdoorsman, and I were amazed by this park. It was calming to walk and admire the old growth forest. Hiking through these woods made it easy to forget there was a bustling little town not more than five minutes away. We were also lucky enough to be hiking through the snow, so we got to see many signs of the wildlife that call this park home. The over 100 pictures I took as we hiked (many of which can be viewed on our Facebook page) barely do the park any justice. It was a serene experience, and one I cannot wait to relive.
I did a little research before heading to Franklin Gulf Park, so I would know what to expect. I was also able to print out a map from this website: http://www.wnytrails.com/?p=405. Although the trails are very well marked, it was nice to have this printout as a reference. It also enlightened me to the meanings behind the trail markers arrangement.
Have you ever been to an undeveloped park like Franklin Gulf? Where is it?