Nestled among the rolling green hills just north of the west branch of Keuka Lake lies Big Gully, a three-mile-long gorge that runs from the Guyanoga Valley to the edge of Italy Hill State Forest.
The 26-acre Botsford Nature Preserve protects 2,500 feet of this impressive gorge including a half mile of frontage on Big Gully Creek. The preserve features streamside woodlands and open meadows that are reclaiming an area used as a gravel mine until 2003. A 0.3-mile hiking trail leads visitors through grassland, upland forest, and to the gorge itself from a parking area off Hemlock Road.
A hike to Big Gully yields glimpses of scenic waterfalls, towering shale cliffs, and mature hemlock and hardwood trees. The flat beds of shale are interrupted by glacial “erratics”—boulders deposited by the last glacial advance. It’s a fascinating walk that is possible at the height of summer when the creek level is low.
All dogs must be on a leash and kept in full control by their owners. Please do not allow your dog to chase wildlife or intimidate other visitors.
The preserve is a gift from Art and Kay Wilder who donated the land in 2019 and it is named for Art’s maternal grandmother’s family who originally owned the land as part of their farm. The preserve comprises one of the last two parcels associated with the farm that had been in Art’s family for 150 years. Art and Kay hold fond memories of family outings to the gully and they chose to ensure the future of this very special place by donating it to the Finger Lakes Land Trust.
The Finger Lakes Land Trust recognizes that our nature preserves exist on the homeland of the Haudenosaunee. We hope to honor indigenous peoples’ ongoing relationship with the land by conserving wild places forever.
During the early bowhunting season, from October 1 – November 17, bow hunters will be hunting on the preserve in locations that are at least 150 feet from the marked hiking trail loop, and the trail will remain open to the public during that time. Hikers must stay on the marked trail at all times.
During the regular gun and late muzzle-loader hunting seasons, from November 18 – December 19, the whole preserve will be closed to the public.
Please see our public use policies for recreational activities on nature preserves.
Go Finger Lakes
Go Finger Lakes is the free web site created by the Finger Lakes Land Trust to promote recreation and conservation. Use the interactive map of over 50 hiking, biking, paddling, skiing, and outdoor adventure destinations across the region!