Stephen and Susan no longer have editorial control over the website, so I am posting this message from him that would be of interest to the older hikers who might still subscribe to the website but are not on the separate email list for hike announcements that go out to current hikers.
Stephen is now active on Facebook and has a small email group he’s updating with their adventures in their new hometown. If you’re a long-time Ithaca Hiker and want to stay in touch with Stephen, email him to be added to his email list, or find him on Facebook and follow him there.
Thanks to all!
Message from Stephen follows:
I’m going to put together a book from these 20 photos as a memento for myself of the last year I hiked with the group before I turned 70. The first photo shows the group having a tailgate birthday party for me in January as I turned 69. The last shot is from September, just before the web site opened and I began to post all the hike photos there. The photos in this album were all emailed to the hikers — I doubt if many people have copies of these shots so many years later.
I’m going to publish the memento book with a company Robin used to publish an album of her photoshop photos. It’s more expensive than the average online photo publishing operation but I thought Robin’s book was fabulous and I want mine to look as good as hers. I don’t actually know what the cost will be but I’m sure it’s not crazy high.
I go into all this because it’s possible some of the people who were hiking with the group in 2013 might want to buy a copy of the book after I get my copy and they can see what it looks like. A number of people who hiked with the group then are still active now. And I suspect that some people who are no longer active still subscribe to the Ithaca Hikers web site and follow along. The group was actually quite large in 2013 and there may be more than a few people who would like a souvenir of that year.
I’ve put the 20 photos into an album on my OneDrive account where anyone can look at them or download them. I chose shots that I think convey the spirit of the group in that year — it was very cheerful and people were clearly having fun.. I’m going to put a short preface in the book explaining what 2013 meant to me.
Eleven hikers and one dog met at Green Lakes State Park for a hike and meander around the lakes. We hiked past beautiful and unique meromictic Green Lake and Round Lake and then up to the golf course restaurant and club house, with a charming view over Green Lake. We availed ourselves of the chairs provided by the restaurant and rested and snacked. Then back down to the lakes and back to the cars via the beach. In all, we hiked 5 ¼ miles over three hours at our leisurely sightseeing pace.
Eleven hikers met in the parking lot on Hammond Hill Rd. for a hike of the trail system in the state forest. An additional hiker and three dogs met the group during the hike.
We weren’t alone on the trails this day; several bicyclists and runners were using the trail system. The Cayuga Trails Club also had hikers on Hammond Hill, checking out their hike route there for later in the week.
Trail conditions were generally favorable, with dry footpaths, lots of sunshine, and some much-appreciated breezes.
I wanted to try a different route from the ones we’ve most often done when starting from the parking lot on Hammond Hill Rd., and I ended up combining fragments of several other hikes and running the route in the reverse direction of the one we usually take for these hikes.
From the parking lot, we hiked to the blue-blazed trails, then took the Rabbit Run snowmobile trail downhill to the seasonal part of Canaan Rd. We continued north over a variety of yellow-blazed trails until we reached Time Square.
The group crossed the seasonal portion of Star Stanton Hill Rd., doing a loop on the north side of that road that returned us to Star Stanton Hill Rd. From there we walked the yellow-blazed trails back to the parking lot.
As with some of our more recent Hammond Hill hikes, this one ran over our normal two-hour hike time. I’m pretty sure that I can make the hike shorter by choosing some alternative routes from the one we took this day.
Woodard Road east into upper Robert Treman SP and Summer Cookout
Hike report by Jim
On a hot humid Saturday morning, 16 hikers set out on the FLT from Woodard Rd. As we crossed the wooden bridge over Fish Kill creek, it was nice to see that the water volume had increased, thanks to recent rains. We walked in the shade of the trees lining the seasonal Butternut Creek Rd., finally reaching the graveled road surface of Van Ostrand Rd.
We passed through the more recently developed neighborhood and reached Thomas Rd., turning onto that road and hiking along the more exposed section of our hike.
Soon we reached the other end of Butternut Creek Rd. and walked along it to where the FLT turns back into the woods. The trail in this section follows the edge of a cliff or two, and while the foliage blocked any good views, it’s a pleasant section of trail.
Soon the FLT turns onto the park access road portion of Thomas Rd., which finally ends at the Rim Trail. We walked the Rim Trail to the Lucifer Falls overlook. After a picture or two, I changed our normal hike route by leading the group down the stone stairs to the flatlands below.
After stopping to check out Lucifer Falls from ground level, we crossed the wooden bridge and climbed back to Upper Treman via the Gorge Trail stairs. My fear for this section of the hike was that we would be much more exposed on the stone steps, but the cliffs along the stairs offered enough shade along much of the trail that we were able to shelter from the direct sunlight for much of the walk back to the Upper Treman parking area.
We passed the Old Mill and turned onto the CCC camp trail, which in turn led back to the FLT and our cars, where we arrived bwith about 10 minutes to spare. Most of us jumped into our cars and drove to Roger’s house for the summer picnic.
Over the course of the afternoon we enjoyed the company of approximately 50 hikers at the cookout, although many had come and gone by the time Roger broke out the clams.
Thanks to the many hikers who donated their time toward the prep work that made the picnic possible, and thanks to all who contributed money toward Nancy H.’s operating expenses of the websites. Thanks especially to Roger for opening his home to the group once again.
On another note, we had one hiker who got lost en route to Woodard Rd due to relying on Google maps and ended up missing the hike entirely. I would like to once again say that in the more rural parts of the county Google maps is not entirely reliable, and that if anyone has any questions about the meeting location to contact me ahead of the hike day for directions. It’s a good idea to download a map of the area so you can use Google Maps even when you’re offline. For a video tutorial on how to download offline maps in Google Maps, click here.
Seventeen hikers met on Townline Rd. in the towns of Ithaca and Danby for a hike of the Lick Brook/ Sweedler Nature Preserve.
The group started off down the hill from our cars and soon turned onto the white-blazed FLT. We made our way down the slope, traversing a dry streambed and along the narrow ridgeline with a steep drop-off on either side.
Soon we found ourselves on the flatlands, inching our way through the overgrown trail until we reached the waterfalls. We stopped there for a few minutes and then returned to the trail, continuing on the FLT toward Route 13.
There were a few new members of the group on the hike today and it was my intent to help them piece together this section of the trail in their minds; when I first joined the group I sometimes had difficulty “seeing” the various sections of the trails we were hiking in the context of a larger overview of the trail system. I called this “ connecting the dots”; Leigh Ann referred to it today as “snapping together the various Lego pieces.”
We left the Lick Brook property and crossed the Tapan Mitra Preserve and the railroad bridge. Upon reaching the parking area near Shady Corners that we use for hikes of Lower Treman, we discussed the “emerald necklace” of preserve and state park properties in the area linked by the FLT. Then we turned around and retraced our steps.
When we got back to the falls area, Casey took the lead on the blue-blazed path up the hill. At Townline Rd., hikers crossed the road and did a short loop through the Thayer Preserve.
Several Ithaca Hikers arrived in the parking area for solo hikes just as we were ending our two hour hike, and several of us stayed a while to catch up on small talk with the new arrivals.
For those trying for their FLT60 patch, today’s FLT mileage was 2 FLT miles.
High Vista Nature Preserve/ Hinchcliff Family Preserve, Skaneateles Lake
Hike report by Jim
I’ll preface this hike report by saying that I was impressed by this location and would like to bring the larger group here in the fall at peak color change. Obviously it’s a little farther away than some of our hikes, and depending on the route taken the hike will run over two hours. If people are not interested I won’t consider it. Feedback appreciated.
Six hikers and one dog met on Vincent Hill Rd., located on the line between Cortland and Onondaga counties, for a hike of the Hinchcliff Family Preserve loop and the associated access trail from the parking area. Half of our group had been to this location previously; I was not one of those people, so this entire hike was a new experience for me.
There was some concern about temperatures in the hike area being a little lower than Ithaca, but I found that was not an issue at all.
The access trail from the parking lot is a nice 1.1-mile trail with some easy elevation changes. The access trail crosses a couple of streams and old logging roads; the recent rains had revitalized the streams so that we actually had some water flowing around our feet as we navigated the streams. I think that I saw exactly one muddy area, so that was not a concern at all.
We stopped briefly to examine the ruins of an old residence along the trail, and shortly afterwards halted our hike long enough to check on an excited dog that was barking a short way off the trail at a water crossing; we found the dog with its elderly owner. Both dog and owner were fine.
We stopped to admire some views up and down the valley; the views of the nearby lake were welcome. Some berry picking also halted our forward momentum along the trail, but I heard no complaints.
Overall, this hike took us about 40 minutes over on our normal hike time, but much of that was due to stopping for the various views and berry options along the way.
Wednesday July 27
Groton Village Trails
Hike report by Jim
Thirteen hikers met in the Town of Groton for a hike of the Groton Village trails. It was a clear warm day, with good views across the valley as we set off from the trailhead across the open fields. Entering the woodline away from the heat of the sun was a relief; soon we were walking deeper into the woods under the forest canopy.
At the first trail junction we turned onto a very long and steady downhill stretch. Joel noted that this surely meant that we would soon have a long uphill trek, and he wasn’t wrong. There are quite a few steady uphill or downhill segments throughout this hike, the most notable one being a short section that follows the utility line as it runs along a steep section of Sovocool Hill Rd.
There were a couple of blow-downs; nothing too severe or difficult to navigate around.
Soon enough we crossed Sovocool Hill Rd and continued on the lower trail loop that lets out at the Groton High School track field. We re-entered the woods and completed that lollipop section of trail, returning to Sovocool Hill Rd.
After crossing that road, we returned to the upper trail loops that led the us back to our cars with a few minutes to spare.
Ripening blackberries and raspberries lined the trail, and many in the group took time along the route to sample some.
Welcome to Tom on his first hike with us.
Saturday July 30
Finger Lakes Trail from Comfort Rd through Danby State Forest
Hike report by Jim
Fourteen hikers and two dogs met up on an extremely nice hiking day. The weather was nearly perfect, with sun and little humidity, and a decent amount of wind.
Hikers left the parking lot on Comfort Rd. and walked to the FLT where it crosses Bald Hill Rd. The outbound leg of the hike was well paced, the streams being empty of any water hazards and the trails having no mud to contend with. We paused at Diane’s Crossing for a group picture before continuing onward.
We crossed Michigan Hollow Rd. and resumed our hike on the FLT. After crossing Smiley Rd., we continued for another 10 minutes or so before reaching our turnaround point.
The return leg of the hike back to Comfort Rd. was uneventful, and soon we found the hike completed and the journey home started.
This hike counted as 3.6 FLT miles for those attempting to earn their FLT60 patch.
On the last day on July, 16 hikers and four dogs met at the Ithaca High School parking lot for a hike of the surrounding hills and Fall Creek area.
We started by climbing through Lakeview Cemetery and making a quick stop at Sunset Park for a photo. We continued south on Stewart Ave., then entered the city cemetery and walked through it to University Ave.
We then walked down the hill to the Cascadilla Gorge trail, which we climbed to College Ave. From there it was a quick downhill trek through Highland Place ad Williams St. back to Stewart Ave., where we picked up the Cascadilla Gorge walkway on the north side of the gorge, which soon deposited us back at the junction of University Ave. and Linn Street.
We walked through the Fall Creek neighborhood, admiring the various beds of flowers and the hum of activity as people went in and out of the homes we were passing.
Fopr the last leg of our hike, we walked to Lake Street, where we stopped to admire Ithaca Falls. Then, we returned to the high school parking lot and our cars.
Total hike time was about two hours and 15 minutes, and we hiked over 5 miles today.
A warm welcome to Sandy and Sagara on their first hike with the group!
No one showed up for the Tuesday “farther away” hike of the Waterman Conservation Education Center outside of Owego, so I opted to do a solo exploratory hike of the center’s trails, as I’d never been there.
Chris, one of the staff members at the center, was nice enough to take a few minutes away from his hectic job of welcoming participants of the center’s summer youth program to talk to me about the various trails and the general geography of the center’s property.
Based on that discussion, I set off on the red-blazed trail outside of the parking area. The first few hundred yards of trail consisted of boardwalk that soon gave way to a more normal hiking footpath. The main trails I walked — the red-, blue-, and green-blazed trails — were all well maintained. The yellow-blazed side trail that led to the ravine area and a dry waterfall was a little more rustic and had some blowdown obstructions.
The red-blazed trail was mainly a needle-covered path under the tree canopy, which put me in deep summer shadows, while the blue-blazed trail was a more open path of mowed grass as it passed through the high ground on center’s property.
I skipped the yellow loop trail that circles what’s essentially an open field, as I had no interest in hiking that trail in the heat of the day under the full glare of the summer sun.
There was little water flowing in the streams, and while the many short wooden bridges indicate that there are normally numerous wet locations along the trails, I found no mud or other impediments on my hike today.
If you find yourself in the Owego area, I believe that this trail system is worth stopping and checking out.
Wednesday July 20
Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve
Hike report and photos by Jim
Twelve hikers met on Ellis Hollow Creek Rd for a hike of the preserve there, on what proved to be a very sunny, hot and muggy day.
The creeks we crossed were bone dry, and mud along the trail was a distant memory. Thankfully the trees and other foliage doesn’t seem to be browning or wilting from the lack of rain we’ve been experiencing.
We shared the trail with a small handful of other hikers and dog walkers we encountered along the way.
The initial clockwise loop was completed at a pace that seemed to be fairly quick. A majority of hikers opted to do a second, counterclockwise circuit, while others chose to tailor the second half of the hike to directions of travel and speed of hiking that they felt comfortable with, given the heat of the day.
A small number of the group opted to call it a day with a single circuit of the trail system; that’s something this particular location is good for — tailoring the hike to fit your own needs.
Saturday July 23
Bald Hill Preserve, Brooktondale
Hike report by Nancy L. and Randy O.
Near the summit of Bald Hill School Road, 15 people and two dogs gathered an hour earlier than our normal hike time to avoid the predicted heat. After parking along the edge of the road, successfully avoiding the ditches, we headed into the Cornell preserve.
It was shady and pleasant in the woods. The trail wound through the preserve for about a mile before reaching a path that was formerly a dirt road which headed down hill, still in shade. After about half a mile we encountered another former road and made a left, continuing down the hill. Although the leader, Nancy L, was unfortunately unaware, at some point along the way we entered private property.
As those in front approached White Church road, an indignant owner appeared and informed the group of 11 hikers and a dog that they could not return the way they had come. Four of the hikers and the other dog met another owner somewhat farther up the hill, who begrudgingly allowed them to turn around and go back. This involved an 800 ft climb back up the hill to the cars.
On the way back, the path along the old road heading uphill was taken all the way to Bald Hill School Road, where we turned left to make our way back down to the cars. By the time the four hikers reached the cars, all of the other hikers and the dog had returned. Fortunately, several cars had stopped to pick up stranded hikers. One of the hikers drove back down and picked up some more hikers, and other hikers were picked up by some very kind Finger Lakes Trail hikers. This is not a hike we will repeat.
FLT from Carson Rd to Woodchuck Hollow Lean-to, Cortland County
Hike report and photo by Jim
Ten hikers and two dogs met on Carson Rd. for a day hike on the FLT toward the Woodchuck Hollow lean-to. I’ve previously done this as a Wednesday hike for the group, never on the weekend, because I’ve never been certain of the parking along the shoulder of Carson Rd. We have a previous invitation to use a residence driveway down the road for our group to park in, but that would involve a bit of a hike back to the trailhead.
While at the trailhead the group was introduced to “Dingo,” a friendly and inquisitive dog that lives across the street and is, according to its owner, the canine trail guardian.
The day was bright and sunny as we set off, but under the canopy of leaves it was shady and we even had occasional breezes to spur us down the trail. The footpath was bone dry, as were all of the usual mudholes along our route. Roger’s hiking partner Diego managed to find the only standing pool of water along our route and was soon belly deep in it.
There were a fair number of blow-downs, which forced the group to crawl over or bushwhack around the trees and get back onto the footpath. I’ve said it before, but our trail maintainers on the Tompkins sections of the FLT spoil us.
The outbound leg of the hike was uneventful; it was a nice walk overall, although I prefer this route when the water is running in the streams that we pass along.
We stopped at the Woodchuck Hollow lean-to and took a group photo. I replaced the shelter trail register, which I had noticed during my last section hike in the area had been torn apart, probably for its paper content for bonfires.
We pushed down the FLT, soon encountering the blue-blazed trail that allows us to lollipop our route back to the FLT and our vehicles.
We ran into one other day hiker, but otherwise we had the trail to ourselves today.
Welcome to Sara on her first hike with the group!
For those trying to earn their FLT60 patch, today’s hike counts as 4 FLT miles.
For the summer’s first Tuesday “farther away hike, hikers explored IBM Glen, which is part of the Waterman Conservation Center, located in Endwell in the Town of Union, Broome County. This was the group’s first time here, and I hadn’t been able to prescout the hike location, so I had no formal plan for a hike route.
IBM Glen was built by the IBM corporation as part of their country club facility in the 1940s. They created paved paths, stone bridges and picnic facilities within the glen. In the early 2000s, the glen was turned over to the Waterman Center. The glen is over 200 acres in size and has some of the oldest trees in that county, as well as a waterfall that is claimed to be the largest in the county.
We set off from the small parking lot. The trail descends gradually into the glen, with a couple of options for hikers within the first five minutes. (Hiker Norm struck off on his own from the parking lot, so I have asked him to provide a quick synopsis of his own adventures at this location as part of the hike report.)
The rest of the group opted to start with the more westerly red- and blue-blazed trails. While the trails here do have occasional colored blaze discs similar to what we see on trails in Tompkins County, for much of the trail system these blazes are scarce. They appear primarily at and around trail junctions.
The major trails have an older blacktop surface that has fairly eroded in some areas. We completed the first trail arc on “Maple Lane” and were happy to leave that blacktop path for the unimproved Switchback and Gray’s Creek trails that are more of the sort of hiking trail we’re used to navigating in our area. These trails led down into the glen, where we crossed Gray’s Creek. There are some old-growth trees around the creek area.
We eventually arrived at a nice older stone bridge. The waterflow in the area was minimal, so we couldn’t fully enjoy the nearby waterfall. After taking some photos there we continued on our way, eventually arriving at the paved White Pine Lane as part of our intended loop route.
By this time we were quickly running out of time, so we returned to the unpaved shelter trail which returned us to the Switchback Trail. While navigating back through the Grays Creek area, the group was treated to the sight of a red-tailed hawk, which flew through the glen and perched on a nearby tree, seeming to pose for us while we photographed it.
The group returned to the paved Hemlock Lane, which ended at the Wildflower Lane. This in turn led us back to the parking lot.
Before the hike I was worried that we had barely enough trail to give us a two-hour hike. In fact, we had to cut a large swath of the more northerly trails within the glen from our route in order to end the hike on time.
This hike was unique enough that I have added it to our hike list.
I grabbed a paper map from the interp stand and left the main group of hikers at the parking lot about 20 minutes before the start of the hike. The trails took me to about 50 yards from the big ravine, which was small compared to those of Ithaca. A quick bushwhack dropped me into the heart of the ravine.
Old-growth hemlocks here and there towered above the damp rock and shallow, sluggish or still water of Grays Creek, which is likely a lively creek each spring.
The rhododendrons were in bloom downstream from the 15-foot drop of the big falls.
The main interest of this ravine was the bryophytes (mosslike plants) that clung to the damp rock walls. The highlight was lots of jubula, a dark green liverwort found only on rocks in the deep shade of ravines.
Wednesday July 13
Kennedy State Forest, Dryden
Hike report by Jim
Twelve hikers and five dogs hiked Kennedy SF. This was our traditional route along the FLT and Swedish Loop, not the more recent International Trail hike we’ve checked out. It was an enjoyable day, with pleasant temps and a dry footpath that added greatly to the hike experience.
Some of the dogs ran the outbound portion of the hike with cowbells clanging, which surely was enough to scare away any bear that may have been in the area.
In the past we’ve always completed the hike around 15 minutes early, sowe hiked a few extra minutes on the Swedish Loop before turning around and making our way to the FLT for the return leg of the hike.
Other than a couple of other hikers we encountered in the last few minutes of the hike, we had the trail to ourselves.
Hikers attempting to earn their FLT60 patch should consider this hike to count as 3.5 miles toward that goal.
Saturday July 16
Connecticut Hill History/Adventure Hike
Hike report by Dave B.
Comfortable temperatures and sunny skies greeted 16 hikers and 2 dogs for a glimpse of the 19th-century settlements that once dotted what is now the Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area.
Our first stop was a homestead featuring remnants of a stone foundation, a large hole that was likely a basement, and an impressive intact well. This the well into which longtime hiker Norm once descended to collect samples, now known (per Casey Creamer) as the Norman Rock Well.
Our route then split off from more well-established trails to descend into a deep ravine. The creek at the bottom had almost completely dried up, making for dry shoes as the trail crisscrossed it heading downhill. Unfortunately, that also meant that the two waterfalls (one of them flanked by stone steps laid up long ago) were also dry, leaving the full beauty of these sights to hikers’ imaginations.
Crossing Carter Creek at the bottom of the descent brought us to what’s left (a lot!) of the stone dam that once backed up quite a large reservoir. Several hikers climbed up the stone spillway to get atop the standing portion of the dam, at least 8 feet tall.
From there, a pretty roadwalk along the Carter Creek ravine brought us to an abandoned road leading back across the creek and uphill, past what’s left of an old stump fence to a well-preserved basement surrounded by a large blanket of myrtle. Continuing the climb, we again reached the first homesite to reconnect with the trail back to the cars. All told, the hike covered almost 5 miles in 2:40.
Sunday July 17
Carter Creek Road Walk, Newfield
Hike report by Jim
Five hikers and two dogs met at the junction of Rowell Hill and Carter Creek roads for a road walk of the seasonal Carter Creek Rd.
The day was warm, with slight breezes. No rain fell during the hike to ease the heat, although we had constant companions of flying insects of both the biting and nonbiting variety.
The hike was uneventful, mostly under the shade of surrounding trees, with periodic pools of intense light, which we tended to race across to get to the next area of welcome shade.
Along the way we encountered a sunning snake or two, but otherwisewe had the road to ourselves.
At the washed-out bridge we turned around and retraced our steps.
Welcome to Julia on her first hike with the group!
Alternative Hike: Abbott Loop
Hike report by Casey
Roz and I are going to Estes Park on the 26th to do some hiking in the Rockies. So, she decided we needed a bit of a tune up prior to that trip, and I would say that is what we got with this hike.
There were six hikers, no dogs and no cats. We did the entire Abbott Loop, starting from Diane’s Crossing and going in a clockwise direction. Partway through the hike I had to apologize to the group for failure to provide the usual mud encountered on many parts of this route. To make up for that lack of mud, I did manage to provide hot and humid, with more than our share of annoying bugs.
We managed the 8.34 mile hike in 2 hours and 41 minutes. That put us back at our cars at about the same time the big group should have been finishing their hike, although we started at 8:00. And for an added treat we ran into three regular Ithaca Hikers when we got back to our cars. They had apparently just hiked down from Bald Hill Road and were now on their way back.
Anyway, when you need a tune-up hike to get yourself ready for a hiking trip, I would recommend this one. It has everything you need in a hike, and by the time you get done you should definitely feel like you didn’t need to hike any farther. When we got home, just climbing up the steps inside our house felt like we were climbing yet another steep hill. I would recommend whenever you do the whole loop, you do it in the clockwise direction so that the treat of getting to the Pinnacles happens later in the hike instead of sooner.