I love taking walks; I always have. When I was little I would walk around my old neighborhood with my Mom all the time, memorizing the houses that had grape hyacinths (one of my favorite flowers) in their yards. I still love taking walks. Walks are one of my favorite ways to take a break from studying, while getting some fresh air and low-intensity exercise. Walking can be a great way to have some alone time, or to spend time with friends. Taking a walk with someone can give you a chance to get to know them better. It can also give you some privacy for a conversation.
If that sounds great to you, and you’re wondering where you can take a good walk in Houghton, then you’re in luck, because I compiled this list of all my favorite walking routes!
1. The Quad
This is the most obvious place to walk. The campus quad presents itself to you whenever you leave any of the main campus buildings. (It may even call to you through the windows of your last afternoon class, making you a little more distracted than you might otherwise be.) It’s perfect for spontaneous and short walks, or if you need a brief study break to get your blood moving before hitting the books again. It takes no planning and no extra travel time—it’s always right there.
2. The Field of Dreams
Okay, so you’ve walked around the Quad a few times, maybe even looped around the the farther sidewalk behind the Luckey building, or gone around behind the CFA. This is fun and all, but it’s starting to get old. You’re ready to stray farther afield. Luckily, Houghton has a field available to you—only a short walk away, just down the hill from Gillette, and across the street. The Field of Dreams is a popular stargazing spot, but it’s excellent by day as well. It has a trail around the perimeter that goes right next to the river. If you’re lucky (or patient) you may see beavers.
3. Lovers’ Lane
As you are walking down the hill from main campus to the Field of Dreams (or on your way back up) it’s a perfect time to visit Lovers’ Lane: a grassy, pleasantly overgrown path through a small triangle of woods between Gillette and the main road. Lovers’ Lane is the name informally given to the path in homage to L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, where the title character gives the name “Lovers’ Lane” to a picturesque path in the neighborhood that appeals to her imagination.
The name is also fitting because many Houghton students over the years have found this a particularly romantic place to walk with their sweethearts. Not to worry though, no lovers are required for the enjoyment of this path! It’s a perfect place to go if you feel the desire to be among trees but don’t think you have the time to go for a longer hike in Houghton’s woods. Lovers’ Lane winds and tangles among the trees and splits off, allowing you the sense that you are getting lost without actually ever being so.
It also makes an excellent starting point for you to simply wander off into the trees, towards the creek, and possibly into a grassy, boggy patch nearby. It can be most easily accessed where it splits off from the paved path down to Roth, but it also has a less obvious entrance just out Gillette’s back door.
4. The Overlook
Now that your appetite is whetted for trees and forests, it’s time to embark on a venture to the real woods. Accessible from a path by the KPAC, or from an entrance up Centerville Road, Houghton has a variety of trails in the woods, as well as a few small shelters that are excellent for picnicking, or sitting for a bit if you get caught in the rain.
The most popular trail by far is the Overlook Trail. The trail creates a loop which goes through an old apple orchard that will appeal to all your ideals of spooky groves from fairy tales. It winds past the overlook, and then back through more woods. From the overlook you can see out over the tops of trees, to the mainroad and the hills beyond. It’s especially beautiful in the fall, when the trees are vibrant in their fall color. (To be fair though, I personally believe that everything is especially beautiful in the fall.) You can find the Overlook Trail on one of the maps at the woods’ entrances, or online. Or better yet, ask a friend who knows the way to take you. It’s a great way to spend time with friends while enjoying the outdoors.
5. Lesser-Known Woods Trails
The Overlook Trail gets a lot of love, very understandably. It’s beautiful, memorable, and not too hard to navigate. However, there are many lesser known trails in the woods that are also beautiful, with the additional appeal of being a bit more off the beaten way. Here again the trail map will come in handy. You can either pick a particular trail and follow it from beginning to end and back, or you can start out on one trail and then wander on to new ones whenever the trail splits and your whim inclines you. Just don’t get lost! My favorite less known trails are Old Oak Trail and Devil’s Back, which I like to get to by way of the Connector Trail from the main path. These trails are less distinct, and give me more of the feeling of just wandering around free in the woods, which I like.
6. Fancher Heights and Luckey Drive
People are more likely to tell you enthusiastically about the delights of the Houghton Woods then they are to sing the praises of walking through Houghton’s streets. However, I personally love walking on Houghton’s streets. It’s a nice way to get out of campus proper and explore more of the town itself. Walking on the road also has the benefit that if you, like me, are exceptionally fond of night time walks, it’s much easier and safer than walking in the forest in the pitch black in the middle of the night.
One of my favorite places to walk is up Luckey Drive, around the loop that is Fancher Heights, and then up the rest of the way to the end of Luckey Drive. If you do choose to go at night this is also a great place to see the stars. You can look up a map of Houghton to find this if you need to. The best way to get there is by going down the path behind Lambein, making a right and then choosing the left side of the fork when you reach it.
7. Seymour Street
Now try choosing the other side of that fork. Even if you do this by accident trying to get to Luckey Drive, it won’t be a mistake, I promise you. Seymour Street winds up and down hills that are lined with houses and pine trees. If you are lucky, you may meet a few cats. Seymour Street gives you a taste for the more residential side of Houghton, as well as entrance to the woods that lead down into the creek. It’s especially perfect for a walk in the early snow. It’s quiet enough of a street to be able to exchange some snowballs without cars being in the way, and the street lamps light up falling snowflakes beautifully at night.
8. The Creek
If you have tall boots or like to get wet, one great place to walk is in the creek itself. As mentioned above, Seymour Street has great access. You can push through the trees and down the hill to the creek and walk down through it until you come out behind Lambein. From Lambein, you can even keep going and make your way under the bridge that leads to campus and past Roth. In many places it’s easy enough to walk along the creek, but unless you stray pretty far into the woods along the side, sooner or later you will have to venture in, or at least make your way across on rocks.
I think this is a perfect activity during warmer weather for when you need a break. I often even like to put on some old clothes and have a mud fight. Sometimes it can be really nice to stop being a responsible adult for a little while and play in the mud like a kid again.
9. Campus Heights and Park Drive
Similar to Fancher Heights and Luckey Drive, these two connected roads are a great place to walk if you want to explore the town of Houghton a little bit. In fact, while I have specifically named Campus Heights and Park Drive, once you are in this area of Houghton you can wander aimlessly through a whole net of connected streets. There is even a charming, woodsy little shortcut near here. I will not, however, tell you where to find it, so that you have the pleasure of seeking it out for yourself.
10. The Path to the Townhouses
If you live in the townhouses or have friends in the townhouses, you will become very familiar with this path one way or the other. What may not occur to you is that it can be a nice loop to add into your walking route. The sidewalk runs parallel to the main road, but behind a series of houses and past beautiful forsythia bushes that bloom in the spring. Once you reach the townhouses you can loop through the sidewalks that wind among them, and take the opportunity to drop by on a friend. Cut over to the main road from here and you’ll pass Subway, which is perfect if you find yourself suddenly in need of a snack.
11. The Greenway
If you walk along the main road long enough in either direction, you will eventually happen across an entrance to the Greenway, a walking trail that runs through the Genesee Valley from Rochester to Cuba. This route was originally a canal path, then converted into a railroad, and finally into its present form as a trail. The Greenway is aptly named, as the path is grassy and lined in most places with woods on both sides. The easiest place to access it in Houghton is actually right next to the Field of Dreams. Keep your eyes out for the grassy path as you make your way into the field.
Enjoy Your Walk!
And if you see me out walking around Houghton feel free to say hello!
Ally is an English and mathematics major, and a member of the Class of 2021.