As we head into winter, some experts are warning Covid is going to get worse in the county. So we’re going to keep a close eye on the local health data. But we’ll continue to welcome new hikers into the group for now. So if you want to hike with us, contact our coordinator, Jim (email@example.com). He’ll add you to the mailing list he uses to announce upcoming hikes, so you’ll know where we’re meeting up.
Route 96B to the Tamatack Lean-to on the FLT, Danby SF
Two hikers met on state route 96B in the Town of Danby for a Westerly out-and-back hike on the FLT
Immediately after leaving 96B the FLT travels through some nice stands of tall evergreens. Walking on the spongey surface of pine needles was a comfortable start to our hike. In this area the light was subdued, and actually seemed to have a green haze to it due to the filtering effects of the pine needles in the upper levels of the stands of trees we were walking through.
Pretty soon the walk through stands of evergreens was replaced by what I suspect is some of the sharpest elevation gains anywhere along the Ithaca portions of the FLT; a near straight walk up the hill to the Tamarack lean-to, with few switchbacks or flat areas to offer a break to your climb. Passing through a stone wall and over a couple of decent sized trees along the trail gives a hiker some opportunities to rest on this particular climb. Temperatures were reasonable, so this climb wasn’t as discomforting as it might be in later summer months.
Here we found nearly the entire hillside along the trails route to be covered with the red petals of Red Maple flowers.
We stopped briefly at the Tamarack lean-to to make a quick trail journal entry, and continued on our way.
Crossing over Travor Rd, we continued on the FLT until it was time to turn around. This final portion of the trail has some young evergreen saplings, and with the recent rain it seemed as if the pines and what little green undergrowth along the trail was an extremely bright shade of green.
The return trip to our vehicles was uneventful.
Sat April 17
Hike report by Jim. Photos by Cian
Potato Hill SF, Level Green Road to Old 76 Road, Caroline
Nine hikers met on Level Green Rd for a hike of the FLT towards 76 Road.
After the rainfall of the previous day the trail itself for much of the route was an active stream, with water running down the path, or laying in decently sized pools. Portions of the trail that were not in standing water were found to be mud bogs. Water crossings were entertaining due to the speed and levels of water found in a couple of the streams.
Despite the water-filled portions, much of the trail was still quite enjoyable; the hillier portions of the trail were still quite passable, for instance.
The group found much greenery starting to thrive along the trail, and the contrast between the new growth and the muted colors of fallen leaves and old dead undergrowth was an interesting contrast.
Arriving at the final turn that leads towards 76 Road the group found that the trail was again an active waterway. Rather than continue further the group chose to turn around and re-trace our steps.
Arriving back at the cars early, part of the group opted to cross the road and continue on the FLT on the other side of Level Green Rd, while the majority opted for a short road walk to round out the two hour hike time.
13 hikers met in the parking lot on Hammond Hill Rd for a hike of various multi-use trails in the state forest
A 14th hiker arrived late and did their own hike.
Arriving in the parking lot, hikers were met by a cool breeze and the threat of rain clouds in the sky.
Setting out on the yellow trails, the group quickly warmed up as we climbed the first of many low grades we were to encounter on this hike.
Arriving at the first intersection we turned right, which soon had us walking through my favorite stands of tall evergreens in this particular forest.
After passing through the evergreens the group arrived at the seasonal portion of Canaan Rd. We quickly crossed over the roadway to the yellow 5 trails and from there a quick right onto the yellow 7 trail. This trail, one of the few muddy portions we found on todays hike, soon brought us to the lower end of Canaan Rd near the intersection with Red Man Run.
Walking past that road intersection soon brought the group to the bottom of Rabbit Run multi-use trail, which is easy to miss later in the year as the weeds grow up. Today that trail was marked mainly by a decently sized pool of water. Climbing Rabbit Run, we arrived at the intersection with the blue trail that returns hikers to the parking lot we started out on. Some of the group chose to head home early; the remainder turned the other way on the blue trail, doing a quick out and back lollipop hike to burn up remaining time.
Taking the blue trail brought us back to the yellow trails and the parking lot at about the perfect time.
Throughout the hike we had the majority of the trail to ourselves as I saw only a couple of dog walkers in addition to our group on the trail. Weather was just about perfect hiking weather; compared to the literal streams we were hiking in on Saturday, todays trails were a real pleasure.
Seven Hikers met in the parking lot of the Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve on Ellis Hollow Creek Rd
The group had the trail mostly to ourselves, although a couple of other dog walking people were present in the parking lot or made appearances as we were leaving the hike.
It was a sunny and warm day, and partially as a result the water levels on the stream crossings was fairly low.
While it was warm it was not oppressively so, being so early in the year, nor did the flying bug population make an appearance to lessen our enjoyment of the trail. I can’t say the same about the ground crawling bug population which has been a factor in our hikes since the snow melted.
Within a few minutes of starting our hike the group fractured into a couple of distinct smaller elements; with the main body of hikers charging ahead and completing their first circuit of the trails well ahead of the second group. Turning around, the lead element soon met the second group of hikers, who continued on to complete their circuit and begin their second lap on the trails travelling in their original clockwise direction of travel.
The lead element of hikers soon rounded the top of the trail loop in a counter-clockwise direction, and met the second element near the stream crossings. Turning around, the second group rejoined the lead element and everyone walked back to the parking lot together.
It was a great day to be on the trail.
Sat April 10
Hike report by Leigh Ann. Photos by Nanct L and Cian
Bald Hill Nature Preserve and Bald Hill — Caroline
At 9:30 yesterday morning, ten hikers met up at the corner of Leonard Road and Bald Hill School Road. There were no dogs, which is good because we saw what we think was a deer carcass on the trail – the dogs might have lost their minds.
We hiked south from the cars about 1000 feet on Bald Hill School Road to the green iron gate that leads into the Cornell Botanic Gardens Bald Hill Natural Area. The trail into this area leads uphill to a boarded-up house or nature center. It looks like it has been boarded up for quite some time, and the structure itself is impressive: stone chimney, beautiful stone all around the outside with a strange, flat concrete roof. It is now a green roof, according to Cian, whose long stick for his camera let him see up there.
The trail leads from that structure down the west side of Bald Hill and makes a sharp right turn to go more steeply down a wet, rocky gully. This gully comes out at a beautiful field. By this point in the hike, the sky was still overcast but it was getting lighter. We turned west to follow the trail/two-track down along a burbling stream and came upon an idyllic-looking cabin and farm up to the south in the woods. The owner of the cabin asked us about the trail/two-track conditions, and we had a friendly conversation with him.
By then, the trail/two-track was heading steeply down. It came out at White Church Road, about 100 feet north of Ridgeway Road. Amodei, who was hiking with Cian and had been racing down the hill, realized that their house was nearby! Going uphill was much harder than coming down for Amadou who is six. So, on the way back up, the group agreed to spread out and head back a slightly different way that would give us a different view.
The sun was casting shadows and the day was getting warm by the time we returned to the beautiful field and turned south to follow the gully. Instead of turning off the gully to go back to the hilltop structure, we continued south out of the gully a few more hundred feet and followed Bald Hill Trail to where it curved east. This part of the trail, near Bald Hill School Road, goes through what used to be a farm. At this time of year, with no foliage, magnificent views opened to the south-southeast and there were big clusters of daffodils. Vinca minor were everywhere and were starting to bloom. The sky was milky blue, and the sun was warm. We exited the trail between two concrete obelisks and headed back to the cars on Bald Hill School Road
10 hikers, including late arrivals, met at the parking area at the end of the maintained portion of Shindagin Hollow RD
There was a light rain falling, but nothing so severe that it would prevent the group from hiking.
Walking a short distance down the seasonal portion of Shindagin Hollow Rd, the group cut off into the woods on the multi-use rim trail that is popular with both hikers and bicyclists.
Once under cover of the trees the rain became even less noticeable than on the roadway.
Due to the rain the root network on the forest floor was noticeably slippery, although there was minimal mud on the trail and what mud there was was easily navigated around.
The group was alone on the trail; absolutely noone else was out hiking.
Returning to Shindagin Hollow Rd near the Jeep trail, the group found its way a short distance down the road and walked the plunging bike path that leads down to the creek crossing. Water levels were a little higher than the last time we were on this path, requiring the addition of a few well placed rocks in the stream in an effort to get people across the water with dry feet.
The group found its way down the trail towards Gulf Creek Rd.
I’m the unfortunate reporter of the single high heeled shoe on the stump being missing when we passed its former location.
The group came out onto Gulf Creek RD and returned to the cars via a road walk of Shindagin Hollow RD
The portion of Shindagin Hollow Rd that’s often flooded in the spring was dry today, although water levels in the surrounding stream was fairly high.
A couple of members of the group shortened the woods portion of the walk in favor of more of an overall roadwalk, due to short legs.
Due to the rain it was a fairly dull day visually; lacking the vibrant colors that we often see in the hills on this hike.
Four hikers set off from the parking area at Shady Corners, walking under the bridge there and onto the FLT as it crosses through lower Robert Treman State Park
It was a cool morning, and our only company in the parking lot was what I assumed were a couple of fishermen checking out the water a day before their season officially opened.
As with so many of our hikes, this particular hike hits us with a long series of up-hills with what seems to be a very few flat spots along the way on the outbound leg of the out-and-back hike. It was a great hiking day, a sort of not-too-hot, not-too-cold perfect hiking weather, so I found that the up-hills seemed just a little easier than they sometimes are in the heat of summer. Having such a small group was no issue, as we were able to keep the conversations going while stopping to look at one or another thing in the section of trail we were travelling through.
Eventually we reached a good spot to turn around; upon starting the return leg we had a short period of very light rain that stopped by the time we returned to lower Treman. Even with the slight amount of precipitation it was not unbearable nor uncomfortable.
We saw only a couple of other hikers on the trail for the duration of the hike.
Sat April 3
Hike report by Leigh Ann. Photos by Cian
Woodard Road to Rockwell Road, Enfield
Fifteen hikers and two dogs met up at 9:30 at Woodard Road and the FLT. We hiked west on the FLT, passed the Treman Center (the big red barn), crossed Hines Road, and followed a pretty stream to Rockwell Road, and went back to Hines Road. From there, we road walked back to the cars on Hines and Woodard.
By this point, we had spread out into two groups, and the group of seven that I was in arrived at the cars at 11:00 – 30 minutes earlier than we’d anticipated. The sky was clear, and the day was warming up nicely, so the seven of us extended the hike by going east on the FLT to Fishkill Creek. We crossed the wooden bridge and followed the creek southwesterly on Butternut Creek Road and Van Ostrand Road, then returned to Woodard Road on Stone House Road.
This was an amazing early-April morning. After the mid-week snowstorm, there was still snow left in the shadows. The mud had extruded ice flowers that we were turning to slush. The north-facing slopes of hills were sparkly blue, the south-facing slopes of hills were warm tan. The sky was clear and from the hilltop near stone house, there were unobstructed views all the way across the north.
It was so pretty that I went on another hike that afternoon.
Nine hikers and two dogs met at the parking lot where the Jim Schugg Trail meets Lake Rd
A tenth hiker arrived late but later met up with our faster hikers as they returned to our cars, and finished with the group.
A short walk up Lake Rd and a quick turn to the Northwest had the group crossing the field that was wet and spongey with the spring thaw. A cool breeze chased me across the field to find shelter inside the treeline as the climb up Havington Hill commenced.
On this side of the hill ( I guess that it doesn’t quite qualify as a mountain? ) we were still in the relative shade, and this showed with the patchiness of remnant snow and over-all cooler temperatures than what we found on the rest of the hike.
Cresting the top of the hill ( blessed relative flatness for some of us ) and then coming to the crest of the hill on the opposite side facing Cortland county seemed like night and day to me. The fields were awash with light, there was no sign of remnant snow, and it almost seemed to me as if the Cortland side of the hill was a week or two ahead seasonally than the Tompkins County side.
Descending quickly to the opposite side of the hill, the group crossed along the open fields and plunged back into the woods as the FLT meandered across a couple of streams and onwards through the woods. The streams were flowing vigorously, the streambed bottoms slick for those trying to cross over without benefit of stepping stones.
Arriving at the blue blazed side trail that leads to a slightly different view of the same field, the group paused briefly before turning around and re-tracing our steps back up Havington ( the trail on this side of the mountain always seemed less steep to me, which makes no sense at all if you think about it, as it’s the very same hill as on the opposite side ) and to our cars.
All in all this was a great hike .
Some non-hike report business for members of the group:
Traditionally since I’ve been with the group, we’ve had our traditional three day hike format. I understand that in the early days of the group the hikers hiked only one day a week, then two, and then finally adopted the third hike day.
A couple of years ago some members of the group set up some additional hikes at locations further away from Ithaca, and hikes of longer duration than our standard two hour format.
I am proposing a temporary change to the groups traditional three day hike format, This change would only be for the months of July and August.
For those months, I propose that the weekend hikes remain unchanged.
For July and August, I propose that we do away with the Wednesday hike. In its place, we have a Tuesday hike and a Thursday hike. One of those hikes will be at one of the standard local/ area trails in the standard two hour format we always do. This way, the people who don’t want to join in the extra hike day will still get their three hikes a week. For the other day, we may pick a local hike, or we may pick a place somewhat further afield, with a hike of longer than two hours. For instance, last fall a group member suggested last fall a day long hike outside of the county in a state park near him… ultimately people were concerned about rising Covid cases and no vaccinations being available yet, and that hike suggestion got scrubbed. If we choose to do this, It could be a long day hike of the Interlokken, or the entire Abbott Loop, or something similar.
Another idea I have is that because of Covid the group has largely been unable to have our normal social gatherings after hikes, or picnics at members houses. Now that its warming up and the street dining situation is improving, I am suggesting that in June the group pick a non-hike weekday such as a Tuesday and meet for an outside dining lunch , either Downtown or at some place of the groups choosing. Jacks favorite outdoors post-hike dining experience at the Grist Iron on a hike day would be another option.
Feel free to reach out to me with your input on either of these issues.
Mulholland Wildflower Preserve toward Potter’s Falls, Six Mile Creek
Four hikers met in the parking lot of the Mullholland Wildflower Preserve on Giles Street in the City of Ithaca.
It was an overcast day with light rain, but there were still a handful of other hikers and dog walkers present in the Preserve during our time there. Construction on city water system infrastructure that was scheduled to start the next day had not begun yet, although there had clearly been some prep work for that project done around the parking lot of the Preserve by the time of our hike.
Hikers made our way through the Preserve, stopping to admire some of the cascades of water and frozen ice clinging to the shadowy sides of the cliff faces. The group climbed the trail leading up the hill to the access road for Second Dam; from there making our way to the overlook area above the city reservoir.
In previous visits to this particular area I had never noticed a stonework memorial bench that sits high above the reservoir, so we made our way to that feature and checked it out before re-tracing our steps back to the cars.
Once we were back at the cars we found ourselves with an additional half hour of hike time, so we crossed Giles Street and visited the Businessman’s Lunch area that is situated below the cascades and old industrial construction that sits on the cliff face in that area.
Sat March 27
Hike report and embedded photo by Nancy L. Widescreen photos by Tiger. Panoramic photos by Cian. Reminder — you can click any photo to see a larger version
Bock-Harvey Preserve and Riemen Woods, Enfield
16 people and 2 dogs arrived for a hike in Bock Harvey Preserve on a crisp spring morning. We started by hiking to the lean to at the uphill Western edge of a field. I took a haphazard picture of the group here:
From there we headed up to the finger lakes trail and headed west and across Porter Hill Rd into Riemann Woods. We climbed the hill and followed the trail down the hill to nearly where it intersects again with Porter Hill road. We took a ‘bushwhacking” trail that follows near the road which turned out to be a little rough but soon enough we were making our way back east on the FLT. Soon we arrived at the yellow circuit trail which makes its way through a nice patch of old growth maples. A couple of people returned to the parking from there. Soon we were back to the FLT heading east. Eventually it took us back to Rockwell rd. Most of the hikers hiked back up Rockwell rd to their cars. A few of us continued on the FLT to Hines rd and headed back to the cars on the road from there.
Black Diamond Trail from Kraft Road to Taughannock Falls
11 hikers and 2 dogs met on Kraft Rd for a hike on the Black Diamond Trail.
The rain had held off through the morning, but on the way to the hike location we were treated to a relatively small rainstorm accompanied by winds.
As a result, we started the hike with an assortment of raincoats and umbrellas as required hiking equipment.
While the sun never did come out during the hike, as the hike wore on the threat of rain lessened and the umbrellas proved unnecessary. The wind did pick up again on the return leg of the hike, but seemed to stay higher up in the trees and not manifest itself at ground level on the trail.
I had intended to hike in a Southerly direction towards Ithaca, but a young hiker in the group was anxious to see the falls at Taughannock, and so we walked North.
Temps were cool, but it made the hike more enjoyable for me, particularly on the return leg when our overly long stay at the falls overlook forced me to step it out to get back to the cars at a decent time.
There were a few people on the Trail, and a good number at various points around the Falls once the group reached there, but nothing that felt out of the ordinary.
While the skies were grey and the trees along the route have yet to spring forth with their bounty of summer leaves, the surrounding fields along the trail were noticeably popping a bright green hue. Nancy L reported that just a few days prior there had still been a layer of ice on the Black Diamond, none of which remained. The only snow I saw remaining along the way was in a few crevices on the hills surrounding Taughannock Falls.
It may be a dangerous thing to say in Ithaca in March, but I think that I can *finally* store my snow shovel away for the season.
All in all this was an enjoyable hike, although not one of our more strenuous trails.
On Wednesday March 17th 11 hikers and 3 dogs met at the junction of Hill and Curtis Rds in the Town of Danby, for a walk of the seasonal portion of Curtis Rd
The first portion of the hike was fairly breezy, a stretch that a couple of late arriving hikers had to endure repeatedly as they hiked in and out from the cars several times as they met different hikers who were returning to their cars from the hike early.
The main body of hikers found Curtis Rd itself to be bare ground as far as the Karenville Bed and Breakfast. As is our usual practice, a quick stop at Karenville to visit the pony there was a popular pause to the hike. Beyond that area the seasonal portion of Curtis Road was still mostly covered with several inches of old snowpack, with patches and even short sections of bare ground. The snow was not particularly difficult to traverse; at one point the road becomes a snowmobile trail, and the snowpack in that section was still very compacted from past snowmobile use. The churning action of a handful of previous automobile through traffic was, as is so often the case on these sorts of seasonal roads, the biggest problem, as it creates an uneven and choppy walking surface.
One of my options for this hike was to have the group jump onto the FLT where it crosses Curtis Rd, but a quick exploratory walk down the trail from the crossing made it clear that remaining on the road was the wiser choice on this particular day.
The group opted to do a simple out-and-back hike, walking for the hour and then simply turning around and walking back to the cars.
While the road surface was not a perfect hiking surface, it shows the promise of better hiking days to come as our region warms up into Spring.
Sat March 20
Hike report by Jim. Widescreen photos by Tiger. Panoramic photos by Cian
Stevens Suspension Bridge, Cornell Golf Course, Cornell horse fields and Fall Creek gorge, Forest Home
Fifteen hikers and three dogs met in the parking lot near Stevens suspension bridge on Forest Home Drive ( Flat Rock area of Cascadilla Creek ).
It was a sunny day and it was pretty clear before we even left the parking lot that we would be sharing the trail system with many other people who were out doing the same hike we were enjoying. While we did encounter a number of trail runners, hikers and dog walkers on the trail it was not excessive. Some members of our group fairly quickly broke off from the main body as they encountered dogs and their owners who they were friends with….
One hiker opted to stay closer to their car and hike the Arboretum rather than traverse the trail system on the opposite side of the suspension bridge.
The remaining hikers crossed the suspension bridge and set off on the yellow and red blazed trails towards Robert Trent Jones golf course.
There were occasional patches of ice on the trail, most notably once we’d crossed the golf course and were returning to the trail system, a large patch deterred some members of the group, who opted to re-enter the trails from another access point. The mud was largely not a problem, as it was still in a semi-frozen state as we hiked the trails. The most dangerous patch of ice for me personally was the one I had parked on upon arriving for the hike, and which caused me to fall at the very end of the hike. The trail itself was otherwise exceptionally safe compared to recent hikes the group has been on.
Once past the golf course the now-fragmented group hiked separately on trails along the precipices above the stream until meeting again. The recombined group left the higher elevations, preferring the trails immediately next to the waterway.
Returning to the suspension bridge and crossing over that, the group took the blue blazed trails East along the opposite bank, eventually crossing over Forest Home Drive in favor of finishing out our hike time with a quick visit to the overlook and bell area inside the arboretum.
From the arboretum overlook it was a quick trip back to the parking lot and the conclusion to another great Spring hike.
Hike report by Jim. Three widescreen photos by Tiger. Panoramic photos by Cian
Buttermilk Falls SP, rim trail, Bear Trail and Lake Treman
By my count it was 16 hikers and 3 dogs that met for a hike of the Rim Trail and surrounding Buttermilk Falls trails on Sunday March 21. I’ll admit that my count may be off, as we had a couple of last minute arrivals today.
This report is more about my own hike experience today, as the larger group broke down into different sub-groups. Other hikers in other sub-groups may have had different observations than my own. If Stephen or others want to add their own interpretations of the hike they are more than welcome to do so.
The group started up the Rim Trail, quickly breaking down into about three different hiking speed groups.
The sun was out and I often stopped to enjoy the views across the ravine where the Gorge Trail ran down the opposite side. The mix of light and shadows through the trees and off the cliff faces on the opposite side of the gorge was really appreciated. Approaching the top end of the trail the view across towards the stone stairs of the Gorge Trail, still wholly encased in ice and reflecting back the brilliance towards me, was very enjoyable.
Others in our group stopped to detour towards the closed-off gate at the bridge that spans the gorge between the Rim and Gorge Trails for a closer look at the ice and racing waters running through the stream.
Reaching the top of the Rim Trail I crossed into Upper Buttermilk proper and jumped onto the Bear Trail. Even though the group had just been here a month ago, the near-absence of snow and ice on the Bear Trail today almost seemed to make this an entirely new hike to me. There were still a few short stretches of ice covering the trail in shady areas, but nothing that seemed impassible or extremely hazardous.
Reaching the end of the Bear Trail I walked to the parking area for Lake Treman. Having hit the turn-around time and not seeing the hikers ahead of me, I turned around and chose to take the service road back to the park entrance rather than traverse the Bear Trail again.
On my downhill return hike on the Rim Trail there was a noticeable increase in hikers using the trail system. Near the bottom of the hill I met Katharine H, and after stopping for a short conversation we were met by the majority of the remaining Ithaca Hikers who were now also coming down the Rim Trail behind me.
Returning to the parking lot we found it now to be entirely full of the vehicles of other park patrons.
Overall., a good hiking day. The onset of Spring and the closure of another winter hiking season is a welcome change to me. Seeing Ithaca Hikers on the trail this weekend who have been absent for many weeks and months was a welcome sight for me as well.
For those who were not with the group today but who may want to hike Buttermilk in the near future, park admissions fees will be re-imposed on April 1st