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Explore History, Art & Sweets in Cayuga County Through These 5 Walking Trails

When someone says let’s go on a walking trail you automatically think of trees a dirt path and perhaps even a waterfall or a running stream.  Here in Cayuga County there are many wonderful trails to explore.  But this blog is not about that type of trail, this blog is about trails that will help you walk through history, discover amazing new art and enjoy the sweeter things in life. One of these self-guided walking tours even offers a gift just for completing the trail!

1. Harriet Tubman’s Lantern Trail

Walk in Harriet Tubman’s footsteps through this historic trail.
Harriet Tubman’s Lantern Trail is an immersive outdoor experience that highlights unique moments in Auburn’s history. Experience Auburn, New York, as it was during Harriet Tubman’s lifetime  The whole city is part of Harriet Tubman’s story. Pick up your free map and start your adventure at the Equal Rights Heritage Center, located at 25 South Street.

Explore each lantern stop on Harriet’s trail by following the map At each historical site, you’ll find a lantern sticker with a QR code. Point your smartphone camera at the code, open the link, and prepare to be transported back in time. Scan all 11 stickers and win a prize! Simply snap a picture at each lantern stop, then head to the Equal Rights Heritage Center, show your photos to a staff member during regular hours, and receive a History’s Hometown gift bag!  

lantern trail
Interior of a building with two women looking at art on the walls

2. South Street Walking Trail

“Experience history” while strolling along this beautiful street.

Only two miles long, this historic trail follows the newly dedicated Harriet Tubman Memorial Highway which is on New York State Route 34. Sidewalks guide you along this path through history showing you homes of Auburn’s most famous citizens. Click here for brochure.

3. Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail

This Year we are celebrating the Professional Home Baker

The Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail is an award-winning trail. This season we are featuring 21 partners. The trail is considered one of the best food trails as voted by readers of USA Today and 10Best, as well as being recognized with a Tourism Excellence Award from the New York State Tourism Industry Association.  This family-friendly Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail is all about the unique sweets and treats that Cayuga County has to offer. Whether it is honey or homemade cookies, this self-guided tour has something to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings.

Don’t miss the Sweet Treat Trail takeover of the Saturday Market at the Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn, NY on August 3rd. Meet many of our 2024 Sweet Treat Trail Partners, enjoy sweet treats, music and join the raffle for a Sweet Treat Trail basket.

cake with macrons on it
2024 Sweet Treat Trail Logo
Picture of four cupcakes decorated with flowers in pastel colors

4. Auburn Public Art Trail

Discover murals, mosaics, statues and more!

The Auburn Public Art Trail is a self-guided art walk through Downtown Auburn that highlights over a dozen public art pieces, including signature community mosaics, murals, and sculptures. Most of the artwork is highly visible and fully accessible to the public, and by pulling the individual pieces together into a walking trail we also want to put the spotlight on the stories behind the artwork and the artists who created them. A print map, as well as a GPS-enabled online map with photos and video segments, will guide you from one amazing piece to the next. At each location, you have the opportunity to read about or listen to the artists and their stories. This self-guided walking tour gives you another reason to come and experience Downtown Auburn!  Maps can picked up at the Equal Rights Heritage Center, 25 South Street, during regular business hours.

5. Fort Hill Cemetery Trail

Not quite a trail but an interesting and historical walk

Pick up a map at the gate and start out on a fascinating self-guided walking tour of the beautiful Fort Hill Cemetery. Fort Hill is rich in history;, in the middle of the 16th century, the local Indians used the area as a fortified hill. Some historians believe the Cayuga Indians built the Fort for defense during the many wars that raged between the Indian tribes. The cemetery grounds were dedicated on July 7, 1852. The Bradley Memorial Chapel located on cemetery grounds was completed in 1893, a gift in memory of Silas L. Bradley.

Many prominent historical figures are buried there.  The first man buried at Fort Hill was Judge Elijah Miller.  He was the father-in-law of William H. Seward (U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, NY Governor), who is also buried there with his wife, daughter and granddaughter.  You can pay your respects to abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman,and to members of the Osborne, Willard and Case families and to many others who contributed to local and American history.  A 50-foot obelisk is dedicated to the memory of Chief Logan, renowned Cayuga sachem, statesman orator and warrior. When visiting please be respectful of the fact that this cemetery is both a historic and active cemetery.

If a self guided tour is not what you prefer here are a few guided tours to consider this summer.

Experience a Guided Tour of Historic Downtown Auburn. Explore the rich history of our city through these two walking tours that showcase its deep roots. Auburn played a significant role in the fight for Equal Rights and abolition. Historic Auburn and Birthplace of Sound on Film.

Join a park ranger to explore Thompson Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, the sacred space in which Harriet Tubman worshipped, worked alongside her community, and the place that eventually served as the location of her 1913 funeral. Tours are held Fridays and Saturdays, 11am and 3pm, 49 Parker St., Auburn, NY 13021.

Enjoy an interactive stroll through the Villages of Cato and Meridian while immersing yourself in local history. This is a FREE two day event. The event starts both days at the CIViC Heritage History Center (Saturday 7/13 9-noon, Sunday 7/14 1-3pm)
Click here for more information.

Explore History at the Harriet Tubman Home, here you can visit the place she called home for over 50 years. Enjoy a guided tour and learn a few things you may not have known about her life. This homestead includes, the Harriet Tubman Visitor Center, the Tubman Home for the Aged and Infirm, barn and her residence. Learn more here.