Great Bear is latest addition to Volkssporting Itinerary

Members of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and Finger Lakes Volkssport groups met recently at Great Bear Recreation Area to enjoy the scenic trail system.
Members of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and Finger Lakes Volkssport groups met recently at Great Bear Recreation Area to enjoy the scenic trail system.

The Great Bear Recreation Area near Fulton has been added to the series of self-guided walking tours along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway.

The Great Bear Walk, organized by the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association and Friends of Great Bear, is the first of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Walks to be entirely “off-road” as it follows well-marked woodland trails.

Volkssporting in German is “the sport of the people.” The Great Bear Walk joins a series of walks created by the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association along or near the 518-mile Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway, which parallels Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River in New York and Pennsylvania.

The walks are family-oriented and targeted to those who enjoy outdoor physical activity in which people of all ages and fitness levels can participate.

The Great Bear Springs area is comprised of over 400 acres in the City of Fulton and Town of Volney.

The name is based on a Native American legend in which a young brave was attacked by a large bear near the springs. The property also contains the historic Oswego Canal guard lock number 2 and towpath that were a part of the original Oswego River Canal.

After completing the walk, participants have the option of purchasing a collectible pin depicting the bear for which the area is named.

“The area has more than eight miles of natural trails over rolling terrain, and is ideal for walking, cycling, cross-country skiing and snow shoeing,” said Richard Drosse, coordinator of the Friends of Great Bear. “The Great Bear Walk was developed with the option of either a 3.1 mile or 6.2 mile route, and is sanctioned by the American Volkssport Association.”

The walk is open to all, and there is no charge except for Volkssporters wishing to earn credit or for those interested in purchasing the pin.

In May, a group of 18 walkers from the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association and the Finger Lakes Volkssport Club met in Fulton to christen the Great Bear Walk.

“The Great Bear Walk makes an excellent addition to the series of Great Lakes Seaway Trail Walks, and we’re confident it will serve as an important means to attract visitors to the region,” Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association President Daryl Giles said.

To get started, go to the Riverside Inn located at 930 S. First St. in Fulton and ask for the Great Bear Walk box at the front desk. Walkers can then sign in and pick up the walk directions.

Oswego County also hosts a sanctioned Volkssport walk near Fort Ontario.

The walk is head-quartered at the Quality Inn and Suites, 70 E. First St., Oswego, and commemorates the 1814 British Naval attack on Fort Ontario. The walk can be done in 5 and 10-kilometer routes.

Those seeking more information on the Great Bear and Oswego 1812 walks, and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association may visit www.seawaytrail.com/volkssport. 

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