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Hike the Greenway: 50 Mile Challenge:  Hike 50 off-road total miles on the Genesee Valley Greenway State Park (GVG) and receive a snazzy patch for your accomplishment!  You may use any Greenway completed miles starting in 2022.  A large portion of the Challenge's cost goes to the Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway (FOGVG) for GVG improvement and maintenance projects.

Dates Open:  Year Round
Challenge Length:  50 Miles of Off-Road Hiking
Required Miles North of Letchworth:  10 miles of Off-Road Hiking
Required Miles South of Letchworth:  10 miles of Off-Road Hiking
Required Miles Inside Letchworth:  3 miles 
Cost:  $20.00

How do you get started? Follow the list below to start your challenge:

  1. Read this entire page. It has lots of great information and answers frequently asked questions.

  2. Go to the Sign Up page.

  3. Read the Liability & Assumption of Risk page.
  4. Enter your name and e-mail address, check the agreement box
  5. Continue to the payment page.  ** Choose free in-store or curbside pickup for delivery method ** 
  6. We'll e-mail you the official Hike the Greenway: 50 Mile Challenge Checklist to keep track of your mileage.
  7. Ensure you’ve minimized your risks BEFORE heading out on the trail.

  8. Grab a Genesee Valley Greenway State Park map from Trail Otter or any number of other businesses & restaurants along the Greenway.
  9. Head outside and hit the trail!

  10. Watch for our guided hikes to help you knock a few miles off your list with other like-minded hikers.


Why do you charge for this challenge?  The Genesee Valley Greenway State Park trail are maintained by the Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway (FOGVG) and will greatly benefit from this challenge.  FOGVG helps to maintain the Greenway, and it also organizes improvement projects along the 90 mile trail.  FOGVG will receive proceeds from the challenge fee.

Why only 50 miles?  I thought the Greenway was 90 miles long?  Many of the on-road portions of the Greenway are on NYS highways with high speed motorists.  The Challenge requirement is 50 miles of off-road hiking.  When we created the Challenge, we wanted to ensure participants were off road, minimizing risks of pedestrian/motor vehicle encounters as much as possible.    .

What do you mean by the requirement of hiking 10 miles north and 10 miles south of Letchworth?  All Challenge hikers will be required to hike at least 10 miles north of Letchworth State Park (towards Rochester) and 10 miles south of Letchworth State Park (towards Cuba/Hinsdale).    

What's the requirement of hiking 3 miles inside Letchworth State Park?  All Challenge hikers need to complete the GVG between the Oakland Locks at Mile 53 and Route 436 (GVG Mile 56). 

Do we need to complete the challenge in one year? No - take as long as you need to complete this challenge. No need to push yourself too far, too fast or put yourself in danger to complete.

Is this a race?  It is a challenge, not a race. We will not be tracking who does this the fastest, or any situation where someone may put themselves or others at risk for rescue or injury.

Is there cell service along the Genesee Valley Greenway?   Depends on your service provider and your location.  Pretty solid from Rochester (Mile 0) to Groveland Correctional Facility (Mile 39).  Reception may be spotty or non-existent in Sonyea Forest.  There is very little to no cellular service at the south end of Letchworth (Miles 53-56), and can be sporadic outside villages south to Cuba (Mile 940.  If you’re consider about your safety, consider bringing a satellite communication device.

Any animals to worry about?  We have been told there are all sorts of animals that reside along the GVG.  The most troublesome is the beaver - not that they'll attack you, but they will flood the trail and make a mess of things.  Bears have been spotted along the trail, as have coyotes.  One issue that has been reported to us is aggressive dogs.  Owners walk the Greenway without their dogs on leashes, and one unfortunate hiker had a dog attack and injure him enough to abandon his end-to-end hike.

How hard is the challenge?

We highly recommend hiking with others at all times of the year, especially in winter. If something goes wrong, others in your group may be able to get you the assistance you may need, especially in areas without cell service.  It cannot be overstated that your risks increase dramatically in wintertime. 

That said, the 50 Mile Hiking Challenge is almost exclusively on abandoned railroad grade.  This makes it easy to traverse.  It is generally well drained, except for those rascal beaver dams and occasional spring flooding.  All trail conditions may be found here: 
Genesee Valley Greenway State Park (see Documents at bottom of webpage) 
Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway (please let us know if trail conditions move from this link)

What to bring/wear: In addition to a hiking partner, bring seasonally appropriate wool or synthetic clothing. Always be prepared for inclement weather. Bring a change of footwear and socks for your car ride home just in case it is wet or muddy. You’ll need extra water for hydration in wintertime. Use hiking poles for balance if necessary. And don’t forget the sunscreen.

Late Spring, Summer & Early Fall: we highly recommend long pants, as there are plants that may make you very itchy.

Winter & Early Spring: ice and snow melt makes hiking much harder. MICROspikes or similar products and/or snowshoes may be required. We sell and rent MICROspikes, and may have snowshoes to rent at Trail Otter (supply is very limited). Leave the sneakers at home, along with your cotton socks - bad ideas in snow, slush & cold mud.

Any digital maps? We suggest using Avenza maps in anywhere along the Greenway.

How can I track mileage? Use the AllTrails app to track mileage, or any familiar app. The challenge is based on the honor system, so if you’re estimating - do your best!

Ticks/Mosquitoes/Bugs: Ticks are now everywhere in the Genesee Valley and can be active any time of year. Use permethrin on your boots and clothing, and deet or picaridin on your skin for the best protection.  Mosquitoes will be present in the spring/summer/fall so any deet/picaridin product works best but use anything you’re comfortable with on your body. 

Will you offer hikes to help complete the challenges? Yes, we will offer hikes throughout the year to help you finish. Check the Trail Otter Hiking Club schedule page for details. The hikes will be weather and trail condition dependent to minimize risk.

How can I minimize risk? Below are a few things you can do to minimize your risk, but going into the woods is inherently dangerous and the below list cannot make you risk-free.  Remember, by participating in this challenge you are responsible for your own safety:

  1. TELL SOMEONE  WHERE YOU ARE GOING AND WHEN YOU EXPECT TO RETURN.  Provide this person with Letchworth State Park phone numbers if you're hiking within the park: (585) 658-4692 / 585-493-3600 and 911 and instruct them to call the appropriate number(s) if you are overdue.  Some areas of the Greenway are considered REMOTE in the wintertime.  This means no cell reception and very few if any people on the Greenway.  Having someone who knows where you are hiking and can call for help may save your life if the unexpected happens. Download the Watcher Sheet to help you provide information to the person watching for your return.

  2. BE PREPARED.  Check weather reports, wear appropriate clothing and anticipate an unexpected night in the woods.  Bring at least an emergency blanket/bivy, extra food & water, and a fire starter just in case. (Tip: keep your phone close to your body to keep it warm so the battery lasts longer - placing it in airplane mode also extends battery life.)

  3. PURCHASE A PERMETHRIN PRODUCT AND TREAT YOUR CLOTHING & BOOTS BEFORE HIKING.  Lyme disease is debilitating and may take years to recover.  You do not want to contract Lyme disease from deer ticks.  Deer ticks can be very difficult to locate on your body, and many hikers don’t realize they’ve been bitten until it’s too late.  A spray can of permethrin costs less than $10 and kills deer ticks.  Follow package instructions.  Combine with a deet or picaridin product for your skin to minimize your risk for infection.


  5. ALWAYS BRING A HEADLAMP OR FLASHLIGHT.  Many rescues are initiated because hikers miscalculate sunset and have no light source.  Remember, it becomes dark earlier in the woods than at your house (unless your house is in the woods :-).

  6. BRING ALONG A GENESEE VALLEY GREENWAY STATE PARK MAP & OFFICIAL LETCHWORTH MAP & GUIDE.  Free maps are available at Trail Otter and many other Genesee River Valley locations.  YES FREE!  Familiarizing yourself with the map before heading out on the trail. 

  7. BRING A WHISTLE. A whistle is louder and travels much farther than your voice (and doesn’t go hoarse).  Whistles help rescue personnel locate you.  Lightweight and easy to use.  (Tip: purchase a pea-less whistle for use in wintertime).

  8. BRING A COMPASS.  Learn how to use it.

  9. BRING A PERSONAL FIRST AID KIT.  Depending on where you are in the park, understand that rescue personnel may take more than an hour to reach you.  Be prepared for basic first aid needs.  In addition to items in a commercially produced first aid kit, consider the following:

    • Bring all personal medications for a 24 hour period (in case you have that unexpected overnight).  

    • If your allergy requires an EPI pen, bring both pens - you may need both to stop an allergic reaction. 

    • Bring chewable baby aspirin (81mg) and understand how to use it in the event of a heart attack.

  10. Use STOP if you become lost: Sit, Think, Observe, Plan - take 5 minutes to calm down and think can potentially save your life.

And please remember to practice Leave No Trace while on the trail:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare

  2. Dispose of waste properly

  3. Leave what you find

  4. Respect wildlife

  5. Be considerate of others

  6. Travel & camp on durable surfaces

  7. Minimize campfire impacts

I finished my Hike the Greenway: 50 Mile Challenge, now what?  Click on the Finisher’s Page.  Then e-mail us your completed Hike the Greenway Checklist (or stop in the store!) that tells us you’ve completed your awesome achievement.  After we verify your submission, we'll send you the snazzy Hike the Greenway:  50 Mile Challenge patch and post your name to the Finisher's Page.