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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). He’ll add you to the mailing list he uses to announce upcoming hikes, so you’ll know where we’re meeting up.
Ten hikers and four dogs met on O’Dell Rd for a hike of the FLT on Virgil Mountain
The day started out a bit overcast, although the temps were cool and comfortable; pretty much perfect hiking weather.
When first stepping off O’Dell Rd onto the FLT, the hiker passes by a large stand of the CCC-planted pines that we see on so much of the state land we hike through. On days like today those stands of trees, standing in their uniform rows, impart a little bit of the “atmospherics” onto a hike, to use Stephens word.
The first quarter mile or so of trail is a mix of gradual rolling ups and downs, with a fair amount of muddy spots, many with sections of corduroy filler to get hikers through the muddy parts.
By the first and second stream crossing our hikers found themselves walking on some thick layers of pine needles interspersed with the usual roots and rocks. All in all, not a bad walking surface.
Hikers pass through and along at least three distinct streams on this hike; the sounds of the flowing water was a great companion on this particular hike today
The incline is a gradual and continuous climb throughout this hike.
Soon enough our hikers found themselves at the only crossing of an improved road on this section of trail, at Van Donsel Rd. The group paused to allow the dispersed end of the hiker line to catch up with the main body; everyone rested a bit and then turned to the task of charging up the second half of the outbound leg of the hike
Once on the other side of Van Donsel the elevation gain begins in earnest. Soon hikers found themselves passing the chair lift apparatus for Greek Peak ski resort; here the FLT turns to parallel the ski trails for a while.
Pausing to make an FLT trail journal entry, the group then summited the mountain peak, stopping to admire the summit marker and then continue on to the near-by observation point that looked over the valley. By now the sun was out, and with the clear atmospheric conditions the group could see ridgelines and peaks many miles distant.
After a quick group photo, we turned around and hiked our way back down the trail, stopping only at one point to catch a view of the valley from the top of the ski lift area of Greek Peak.
All in all it was an excellent hike.
Sat May 15
Hike report and group photo by Jim. Six photos by Cian
Finger Lakes National Forest — Logan Road west to Satterly Hill Road, Burdett
8 hikers and 2 dogs met on Logan Rd near Burdett , for a Westerly walk of the FLT in that area I was very interested in this particular hike, as I don’t recall ever being with the group when the Hikers have walked this section in the past.
A 9th hiker caught up to the main group shortly after we set off.
A 10th hiker with 3 dogs arrived late and walked the trail as a solo hike, but never met up with the main group until we had completed the outbound leg of the hike and were back at the cars.
The day was sunny and warm, and clearly the better weather lately has caused the undergrowth to really take off.
Shortly after leaving Logan Rd the Trail takes hikers through a lush field. Throughout this hike the Trail is generally very narrow and closed in by the undergrowth along the footpath. As we pushed our way through the undergrowth I was glad that we checked out this section of the Trail when the trail-side greenery was not at its full summer growth stage.
After getting through the fields, hikers enter a very nice section of woods, with the Trail wandering through nicely spaced mature trees.
Eventually the Trail brings hikers to a well built bridge of recent vintage; clearly a lot of effort went into making sure that this bridge would stay in its place. The group paused here for a group photo before moving onwards
There were a few muddy spots along the lower lying areas of the Trail, but nothing too difficult to deal with.
Before long the Trail begins a gradual long steady climb up a hillside.
It was on this hilly part that we had our only real issue; the FLT in this area is criss-crossed with a myriad of horse or other type trails and footpaths, with little in the way of blazing to send a hiker in the correct direction.. At one point the FLT takes a right turn; the group followed those blazes, but by the time we reached Satterly Hill RD it was clear that the trail we were following was not in fact the FLT. The panoramic view of the surrounding area from that location more than made up for any error in trail use.
A short roadwalk brought us to the current FLT footpath where it crosses the road, but we found that further progress forward was halted due to the Trail in the area being closed due to hunting. As it was nearly time to turn around, the group followed the correct Trail, noting on our descent where we had made the directional error on our upwards climb.
The return trip to the cars was uneventful, although we did eventually encounter the last Ithaca Hiker to arrive.
This was a great spring morning for an atmospheric road/woods hike that hinted at impending storms for the afternoon. At 9:30, nine hikers and two dogs set out east from Woodard Road on the FLT to the junction with the CCC Trail. From there, we took the CCC trail south over Fishkill Creek to Butternut Creek Road. The Road was mostly dry, but the creek was full, and we paralleled it on the road until we reached the hard left turn onto Van Ostrand Road.
From there, we took Van Ostrand Road up over the hill to where the panoramic view opens out to the north. The mackerel sky had briefly opened out to blue by then. When we reached Thomas Road, we headed north on that into the state park, through lovely fields growing up with young pines and white-blooming autumn olive trees.
From the end of Thomas Road, we hiked to the South Rim Trail and down to Lucifer Falls, which were bright white and had a nice deep bass tone. We saw numerous other people and dogs on the South Rim Trail. But from the Lucifer Falls overlook, it was clear that the North Rim Trail is not open yet – at least where it goes up beside Lucifer Falls.
At that point, another hiker and three more dogs happily joined the main group. We hiked down the South Rim Trail to the mill. From there we took the CCC trail and FLT back to the cars, arriving about 25 minutes early.
We stood around the cars visiting with each other for a while. Then we farewelled Jim Rolfe, who used this as his starting point for a week of hiking west on the FLT. Thank you, Jim, for planning this beautiful hike!
Star Stanton Road west into Hammond Hill SF, Dryden
Ten hikers and one dog met at the end of the maintained portion of Star Stanton Hill Rd, for a hike of the FLT in the area of Hammond Hill. An eleventh hiker arrived late and met the group on trail.
There was some concern about expected weather conditions at the beginning of the hike; a weather front moving through the area had the trailhead in a misty rain that was barely noticeable.
Hikers climbed the seasonal portion of Star Stanton Hill Rd in a Westerly direction. Passing into the abandoned section of Star Stanton Hill Rd, hikers found this portion of the FLT well-blazed with fresh paint, which I believe was a change from the last time we’d hiked this section.
Passing a chained off split in the road, hikers soon found where the FLT takes a sharp turn off of Star Stanton Hill Rd and into the forest.
Stepping into the woods we were soon passing through small clumps of evergreens and passing over small well-supplied water crossings. Our last time through this area the evergreens had been covered in fresh snow. This time, the forest floor was springing forth with new growth that had not yet grown so high as to screen our view of the surrounding forested area.
Climbing a small hill we found ourselves on the yellow blazed trails of Hammond Hill, whose multi-use trails share this part of the woods with the FLT.
The group made quick progress, following the white FLT blazes as we travelled from yellow to red blazed trails. It seemed that a mist hung in the air, resulting in a sort of diffused lighting along the trail in places. While there were the occasional muddy patches and standing pools of water of trail, even the worst of these were easily circumvented and our journey continued.
I had not planned on using any of the Hammond Hill trails to create a lollipop or circuitous route of travel, and had only brought an FLT map with me, not the more detailed Hammond Hill trail map with which to alter my original thoughts for an out-and-back hike. After an hour we simply stopped, turned around and re-traced our steps along what was now a mostly downhill trek back to the cars. As we made the return trip, weather conditions worsened slightly, with a rain that was more noticeable, and intermittent winds that seemed to push me down the trail as if to encourage me to leave the hill and return to civilization.
Sat May 8
Hike report and photo by Jim
Kennedy SF, Cortland County
The trip to Saturdays hike in Kennedy State Forest was as unique as the actual hike.
Those who travelled to the trailhead via Virgil Rd ( State Route 392 ) were treated to picturesque low lying fog hanging over the mountains, and fresh snow layered in the fields almost as soon as crossing into Cortland County
Five hikers set off from the trailhead; two late arrivals met us on the trail in mid-hike.
It was a cool, damp day, the forecasted rain holding off until after the hike was completed.
The chill at the beginning was enough to require gloves and an extra outer layer, much of which were cast off during the hike.
The forest floor, in places where the trail had not been made into a muddy stream, had a unique shock-absorbing quality today which gave the hiker the sensation of walking across a spongey surface. The roots and mud, often a hazard on this trail on wet days, was not particularly bad today for me. A few near-spills, quickly arrested by poles or by sliding onto firmer ground. One hiker wandered far enough off trail at one point to run into the barbed wire, but nothing life threatening.
Water levels in the streams were higher than many hikes in this forest in the past, but this was not unexpected. Hikers were able to find narrower areas to bound across the streams to continue our journey.
The loggers were active in the far distance, and the muddy trails they’re using were encountered a couple of times as we made our way through the forest.
I reversed our normal direction of travel once reaching the intersection with the blue blazed trails; this time we remained on the FLT until reaching the yellow blazed side trail which in turn led to the blue blazed trails which returned us to the FLT on our return leg to the parking lot. There was no particular benefit to this route today, but it seemed to be a nice break from our traditional routes of travel for this forest.
This was a great hike.
Sun May 9
Hike report by Jim
Yellow Barn SF, Dryden
Ten hikers and three dogs met for a hike of the Yellow Barn State Forest area
The day was cool, with only intermittent short periods of sunlight.
Hikers set off down the seasonal road from the parking area, skirting carefully around the various pools of water which were at their maximum capacity and overflowing due to recent rains. Despite this, the sections of trail were mostly passable, with little in the way of mud to impede our progress.
We initially tried a secondary approach to the horse fields that involved a woods walk along various ATV and snowmobile trails. Green growth of flowers and vegetation stood out on the forest floor along our path. The group eventually chose to return to the seasonal road and approach the fields along a route we use more regularly on this hike.
Entering the equestrian fields we found them to be unoccupied; we quickly skirted the fields to arrive at the entrance to the loop trail on the opposite end of the equestrian fields which was our ultimate destination.
The loop trail was an enjoyable mud-free hiking experience, and at the hour mark the group opted to press ahead to complete the loop rather than turn around immediately to return to the fields.
After completing the loop trail the group returned to the equestrian fields, where we countered the only horse and rider of the day.
A quick retreat down the seasonal road brought the group back to our cars ad the successful completion of another hike.
Doll Hill, Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area
10 hikers met at the top of Rowell Hill Road on a nice spring morning. Rowell hill road actually goes up Doll Hill. The drivable part ends neat the top of the ridge of Doll Hill. We followed a trail that heads mostly South and relatively level along the side of the hill. The going was easy. The forest in this area was nicely lit without much undergrowth or leaves on the trees which provided a nice view to the west of the nearest hills west of Doll Hill including Rowell Hill and Porcupine Hill (listed north to south). At the south end of this hillside traverse there is a small ruin. Then the trail heads downhill. When the trail leveled off we came to a large ruin surrounded by the ubiquitous purple flowered vinca and even a patch of daffodils. The remains of. a carriage can be seen spread around. In fact we followed an evident carriage road down to Carter creek from there. It’s lined by a row of large trees probably sugar maples. The road remains crossed the creek but we didn’t go that way. We followed a trail near the creek on its east side as we headed back north along the base of Doll Hil. We passed by the remains of a beaver dam. There is another creek crossing at the north end of this section. At this point we crossed the creek and took a trail up to Carter Creek road. Some of us took this road north back to Rowell Hill road and then took a right up that road to the cars. The rest of us went back across the creek to a trail that went up through hummocky hemlocks to doll hill ridge again and our cars.
Three more photos. by Tiger
Sat May 1
Hike report by Leigh Ann. Photos by Tiger/shesse & Cian
Bald Hill Road to the Abbott Loop and The Pinnacles look-out, Danby SF
Hi, everyone. This morning, 11 hikers met up at the junction of Bald Hill and Station Roads. We hiked the section of the Abbot Loop that heads east from Bald Hill Road to the Pinnacles and back to Bald Hill Road. This is a steep and reliably enjoyable hike.
Although the weather didn’t look promising at the start, the cold and overcast sky broke open when we were almost to the Pinnacles. Within ten minutes, the sky went from overcast to clear, and the view from the Pinnacles was magnificent. The ponds in Linsday Parsons Preserve were ringed with fresh grass, and the ponds across Route 34 were more evident than usual. These included the pond containing the Rookery, where tree stumps stick out of a pond and provide nesting sites for osprey and other birds.
Under the bright blue sky, every bud was a chartreuse-colored leaf jewel. The top of the hill was dry with only a few tiny patches of snow from last night’s storm. This was a nice change from the water slog that was the first part of the hike, where there were 2-3 inches of standing water across many parts of the trail.
When the Abbot Loop recrosses Bald Hill Road, you get to decide whether you want to retrace your steps over the Pinnacles or take a 20-minute road hike back to the cars. Most people chose to take the road back, to avoid the water slog. The funny thing is that when the sun was out and the day was warmer, the watery parts were more attractive, so it didn’t seem like so much of a slog.
Shindagin Hollow SF — FLT east from Shindagin Hollow Road to South Road
Fifteen hikers and three dogs met on the seasonal portion of Shindagin Hollow Rd for a hike of the FLT towards the Shindagin lean-to and beyond to South RD
It was a bright, sunny day as the individual members of the group arrived at the meeting location. Once under the canopy of new leaves it was a mixture of direct sunlight and shadows as we moved through the forest. Many other day hikers and outdoor enthusiasts were sharing the same natural spaces as our group.
The flying bugs far outnumbered the members of our group; those without bug headnets were in for a long arduous bug-swatting experience on this hike.
Crossing the footbridge we couldn’t help but observe the high water levels and fast-flowing streams from this weeks snow ( ! ) and rainfall. Climbing the hill on the outbound leg, every few feet of forward movement involved crossing over one of many small rivulets that were running across the footpath ( if you were lucky ) or entirely down the trail thereby turning it into a small streambed ( if you were really unlucky ). The sight of new flowers and forest greenery rising from the ground were welcome sights for everyone.
The group found a small family unit occupying the lean-to, so we passed by quickly so as to not disturb them. Climbing the hill beyond the shelter involved traversing trail that was almost entirely reduced to a soggy mess of roots and mud.
Most of the group reached South RD before turning around and re-tracing their footsteps to the cars.
After reconvening on Shindagin Hollow RD, some members of the group drove to Gulf Creek Rd where the bicycle trails come out onto that roadway. A short hike down the bicycle trails brought the group to the stump where for many years a gold colored shoe has resided. On our recent hike it was found that the shoe was now missing. Thanks to the generous donation by Nancy H, a new gold shoe now resides on the stump.
Layen Road to Bruce Hill Road on the FLT, Jersey Hill, Danby
Five hikers met at the junction of Townline and Layen Roads in the Town of Danby, for a hike of the FLT
Getting to the hike involved driving through fog for some members of the group today.
At the meet up location hikers were met with a steady stream of hail and cool temps
As we hiked the hail changed to snow, and the FLT footpath became increasingly obliterated by a growing layer of snow on the trail.
Despite the weather conditions, spirits among the group were high, and frequent observations of the effects of the snowfall on surrounding plant and tree life were common.
The open fields we cross early in the hike had not yet begun their summer growth, which made that part of the hike much more enjoyable.
The change from open fields to overheard forest cover from the snowfall offered some protections from the weather, but snowy conditions still demanded that we pick our way carefully along the downslopes and across the several water crossings on our route, all of which had high volume of water flow due to the rain of recent days. Some of the steeper hillsides demanded particular attention due to slippery rocks and roots found there.
The group didn’t get as far as we usually do on this particular hike, in large part due to trail conditions. As luck would have it, we reached the first road crossing at exactly an hour into the hike, and so the group turned around and re-traced our steps back to our cars without incident.
Sat April 24
Hike report by Leigh Ann. Photos by Cian
Logan Hill Nature Preserve, Candor
Thirteen people did this hike, under sparkly blue skies into which floated a few fair-weather cumulus clouds by the end. The best place to park for a group hike in the Logan Hill Nature Preserve is the Candor middle/high school parking lot, and this is where we met up. We crossed Main Street to head southwesterly on Water Street through a residential area that borders Catatonk Creek. Water Street turns into Logan Hill Road where the road transitions from paved to seasonal and ascends to the hilltop, where the trails are. There is no parking lot on the top of the hill, just a place where you can do a three-point turn. It’s not a great place to drive a car, but it’s a satisfying road hike up.
It was already in the 50s by the time we started, and it was a perfect spring day. Flowers were out a bit more than in Ithaca because Candor is farther south. As we left the parking lot, some dudes were firing up the large barbeque in Moyer Park next to where we parked. This was in preparation for a big Mother’s Day chicken barbeque, and it made the whole day feel even more springlike.
This hike is about 4.6 miles total, and it has just a bit over 2000 feet of elevation change, most of which is happens on the road once Water Street turns into Logan Hill Road. At this time of year, there are views through the budding trees all the way down the hill to crayon-green fields alongside Catatonk Creek.
Once Logan Hill Road makes a 90 degree turn to the west, the eastern trailhead is on the right. From there, the trail heads north for about 1/2 mile, turns left to go up to the very top of the hill, and comes out in fields that give beautiful views. There are two ponds up there, and the yellow (longer) trail goes between them into hemlock forest. Hemlock needles were shiny in the sun. The yellow trail loops back to the south and comes out at the top of a wonderfully prairie-like field with gorgeous views. Then the trail comes back to Logan Hill Road about 1/2 mile west of where the initial trailhead is. Along this part of the road were huge clusters of little trout lillies – in numbers I’d never seen before. They were packed like trillium will be along Shindagin Hollow Road in a few weeks.
Nancy Lorr picked an excellent time to lead this hike!
Ten hikers met at the end of the maintained portion of Eastman Hill Rd at the county line between Tompkins and Tioga County, for a hike of the FLT in that area.
Inclement weather had met some hikers while en route to the hike location; ominous cloud formations still filled the skies at the time the hike started, but overall the hikers encountered no poor weather during this hike.
Venturing onto the seasonal portion of Eastman Hill Rd that runs through state land, we changed our usual direction of travel for this hike on request of a local group member. Reaching the point where the FLT crosses Eastman Hill Rd, we turned Westerly, walking the FLT until reaching Heisey Rd. A few wet patches along the portion of the trail on the immediate sides of Eastman Hill RD were the only issues we found along todays hike.
Reaching Heisey Rd the group paused and then re-traced our steps to Eastman Hill RD. Crossing over Eastman Hill Rd we continued on the FLT. Several hikers appreciated seeing this part of the trail from a different perspective that a change of direction offers on a hike of any local trail.
Carefully picking our way down the hillside and across the logging roads that travel through the area, we remarked on the view of the valley below through the trees.
Soon enough we found ourselves at a convenient point to turn around, and we retraced our steps to Eastman Hill Rd and then back to our vehicles.
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.