I felt like I should know where the Lockport Trails were but for the life of me I couldn’t place them. My dad knew where it was. Of course he did. He somehow discovered them a few years ago and spent time wandering around the woods tucked into that place between suburbia and small-town farmland. I finished some Christmas shopping and took advantage of another unseasonably mild December day to hit the trails with my dad.
We drove to the trails located on Slayton Settlement Road (not to be confused with Saunders Settlement Road, which, quite frankly, I often do. I may be a native of Niagara County but in many things I’m not so bright.) The trail entrance is on the route for the Lockport Y-10 road race, which I run every year baring pesky things like work which occasionally gets in the way. I mention this because it was an ah-ha moment. I knew the Lockport Trails sounded familiar! I’ve passed them on the Y-10! Only it’s at this point in the 10-mile race that I’m usually starting to fall apart which means I have little coherent memory of the roadside sights. But I digress.
The cloudy morning gave way to sun and clouds in the afternoon. There was a little wind but it was imperceptible in the cover of the woods. The temperature was in the mid-40s. It was a pretty fantastic day to be outside.
“There are many choices,” dad said of the trails and while there was a new gravel path that was a boy scout project we opted to go left on the dirt path, basically keeping to a big outer loop. It was beautiful, still and quiet in the woods. The paths were well marked and basically flat though the trail was uneven — which is to say it was a trail in the woods where there are roots and rocks and such.
We came upon a stream and followed it along until we came upon a great, big, old oak tree. Dad told me it was one of the two oldest on the trail and I stopped in a bit of wonder. It was big both in height and diameter but what caught my attention were the details. Both of the trees were weathered; their branches gnarled, their bark heavily ridged and discolored in places. The trees had endured all kinds of weather in 200-plus years along with the man-made factors of pollution, construction and destruction. Yes, the trees stood tall through it all, but it wasn’t the strength of the trees which interested me. It was their character.
Sure, on the one hand the trees withstood the test of the time. But on the other, they changed. Their surface wore the scars of wind and ice and sun and rain. Their branches and offspring grew at interesting angles, reaching to find blue sky any way possible. They were beautiful because of what they had been through, how they grew and adapted. They weren’t smooth. They weren’t symmetrical. They were big and gaudy and battered. And that made them awe-inspiring.
Along with the trees the other highlight was the waterfall. It was small and gentle and beautiful and provided a wonderful moment of zen. As you continued along the trail there appeared to be graffiti on a tree, but closer it’s a message at eye level that says “look back.” So I did. The sight was of the waterfall and the stream and the woods, still gracious even its winter hibernation. Thank you whomever wrote on the tree for the reminder that sometimes it’s important to pause and look back at where you came from. You often appreciate the beauty more in that position.
There were plenty of rocks all around the park and trail and my dad wondered where they came from. Was the rock indigenous? Was it dumped here after digging the canal? The latter seemed unlikely since it was quite a distance from the canal. Lo and behold a google of the official website lends an important clue that the area was naturally rocky and at one time officials attempted to use it for road-building materials:
“In 1954, the Town of Lockport purchased 100 acres of pasture from the George Gallagher Farm. The intent was to quarry stone for use in the construction of new town roads, particularly that of a 1.5 mile stretch now known as Day Road. The stone, however, proved too soft for road construction and quarrying ceased. Since then, this setting with its lush nature, had laid dormant.”
The town turned it into trails in 2001, which in part explains why it took me so long to discover it. Thankfully I did.
Hike 52 Project
Date: Dec. 18, 2015
Location: Town of Lockport Nature Trail
Total distance: 1.65 miles
Elevation: 43 feet
Duration: 1 hour 12 minutes
Weather: 44 degrees, sun and clouds
Hiked with: Dad
From Week 3: Lockport Trails, posted by Amy Moritz on 12/18/2015 (16 items)
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