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.
Five hikers met in the Jim Schug trail parking lot on Lake Rd.
There was fresh snow falling, a torrent of white that increased as we walked the outbound leg of the hike.
A couple of people on the trail ahead of us disappeared into the flurries of white, never to be seen again by the group.
The fresh snow on the ground made for easy walking, and our footprints behind us quickly disappeared under the continued accumulation falling from the sky
The group made the normal detour off the trail to the parking lot for a quick group photo, then continued on our way.
By the time we reached the turn-around point the snow had stopped.
The return trip to the cars was under the baleful watch of a weak sun obscured by cloud cover. The clouds parted for a single incident, allowing the suns rays to brighten the path around us for barely an instant.
The surrounding natural grays, browns and tans of grasses and tree bark stood out in sharp contrast to the fresh snow.
The return trip was a few minutes quicker than the outbound leg
Overall it was a good hike despite the weather conditions.
Sat Jan 23
Hike report and photo by Jim
Black Diamond Trail from Kraft Road north
Nine people and two dogs met at the Kraft RD parking area for the Black Diamond Trail.
Winds were fairly high, with buffeting from various directions being a constant through the early parts of the hike
The group proceeded Northerly on the Black Diamond Trail. The trail surface had a fresh layer of snow from the overnight snowfall; with other trail users at a minimum, the trail walking surface was actually quite enjoyable. The group passed through the many areas of open fields and residential areas that make up the trail through that neighborhood.
By the time the group got to the bridge connecting the North and South trails at Taughannock Falls we were fairly dispersed from each other. The water going through the upper chasms above the falls were quite impressive, both due to the volume of water flowing under us as well as the visual effects of the snow and ice coating the surrounding stone faces.
Once beyond the falls and on the Northerly Taughannock trail, hikers finished out the outbound hour and turned around.
The group slowly reconnected on the return leg of the hike. The winds we had faced on the outbound part of our journey were nearly gone by that time, and the return leg seemed much more conducive to conversations as the group walked back to our cars.
7 Hikers and 2 dogs met in Virgil for a hike of the Dabes Diversion loop.
There had been some fresh snowfall during the previous evening, in addition to small daily accumulations over the preceding days.
The total accumulation was not horrendous however, and the most recent overnight addition to that total was still powdery light snow that was not terribly hard to get through compared to some past hikes we’ve done.
The day started out calm and overcast, although by mid-hike the sun was out and casting a brilliant blinding flood of light across the field that marks the intersection of the FLT and the Diversion Loop. By the end of the hike the wind had picked up, as if to encourage the group of us gathered around our cars to leave the area and return another day.
On the outbound leg of the hike a solitary skier had at some point in recent days been kind enough to break trail for us, although the overnight snowfall and blowing winds had partially eradicated that benefit for our group.
Snow clung to the pines, both trunks and limbs, as if they were all wearing white woolen sweaters. This was particularly noticeable in the areas of the trail that pass through large stands of monoculture evergreens
Despite the broken trail and fluffy snow, it still took the group considerably longer than normal to reach the junction of the FLT and the Diversion Loop. Breaking from our normal routine, we turned to the right on the FLT and visited the near-by shelter. Rather than continue North on the FLT the group opted to do an out-and-back and return to our cars over the broken trail that we had hiked in on.
As we were starting the return leg of the hike, we encountered another four hikers and one dog who had arrived at the parking area a little later than normal. The late arrivals chose to continue on to the field overlook themselves, while the main body of hikers resumed the hike back to the vehicles. The late arrivals were soon behind the main body of hikers for the return leg.
Eleven hikers and one dog met on the parking lot for the Texas Hollow portion of the Finger Lakes Trail
It was an overcast day; the sun tried to make an appearance later in the hike, but that effort was not greatly successful.
The group struck off in a Southeasterly direction on the FLT. The initial portion of this trail runs more or less alongside Texas Hollow Rd for a short period of time. Eventually the trail comes out into some open meadow areas and the northerly end of a small lake that I don’t believe has an actual name. From there the trail swings away from the roadway and the real hike begins.
After that directional change the next quarter mile of trail runs through some gently rolling hills. Eventually the trail hits a portion where hikers are climbing the hillside through a ( thankfully empty ) streambed. A few flat areas along this part of the route give a hiker some respite from the climb, but otherwise its more or less an almost seemingly straight climb upwards. It wasn’t long before the group passed me by and I was climbing the hill in the relative peace of my own labored breathing. Ironically, the hillside has in some recent time been logged, as the treetops and other remnants of the logging operation still littler some portions of the trail. Through those sections of the hillside have been cut some fairly appealing looking ( to me anyways, as I ascended on the FLT ) switch-backed logging roads.
Thankfully there was no snowpack on the trail to impede our progress up the hill. At best there were some patchy areas of ice along the entire route, but everyone was equipped with foot traction that was up to the task.
The remainder of the group apparently made it to the top of the hillside before turning around to recover me. We descended the hill and started the return trip to our cars.
Upon coming upon the blue blazed trail that circles the smaller of the two lakes on the state forest, I made the spontaneous decision that we should explore that route over the more direct FLT. The blue blazed trail was a nice alternative to the FLT, although in some places I think they skimped on the blue paint…..we came out on an open area of the lake that gave us a nice vista of the surrounding area and me an opportunity to capture the moment with a couple of quick group pictures.
Because of our detour the group made it back to our cars a few minutes late, although I didn’t hear any complaints about that….
Sat Jan 16
This report was written by Randy
Van Lone Loop, Catherine
Perfect winter hiking conditions greeted 8 hikers, 2 dogs, and 1 owl at the Gulf Road parking area. We started out going down the FLT along the creek, which had unusually high water. The trail wasn’t too icy due to a light coating of fresh snow. We saw no other hikers on this normally-busy section of the loop. But we did see plenty of icicles! We crossed the wooden bridge which someone said was on schedule to soon be replaced…good idea! One by one we made it safely across and headed uphill, gradually shedding layers of clothing as we went.
After passing through a vast sunlit field with a view of frosted Swan Hill we stopped to check out the foundations at the old schoolhouse, the namesake for the road we just traversed. Then it was back into the woods, and down to the creek, fording it with the help of some well-placed stones. The climb uphill along the old road offered views of former homesteads. We passed a festively decorated evergreen tree, and stopped briefly at the Chamberlain house to say “hi” (no one was home). Then, it was a downhill, mud-covered road walk for a rendezvous with our cars.
Post hike note: Two hikers, including new hiker Elizabeth, went to the cemetery at the junction of Routes 6 and 10 to visit the grave of Frankenstein… no kidding.
You can see Randy and Nancy’s complete photo album here
12 hikers met at the end of the maintained portion of the Eastern end of Star Stanton Rd in the Town of Dryden.
An additional two hikers and three dogs arrived late and essentially did their own hike.
When the group assembled along the road a fresh flurry of snow was coming down, lending a very seasonal and “winter atmospherics” feeling to the morning.
My intention was to walk the Finger Lakes Trail as an out and back, for as far as we could get in our two hour time.
The group set off up the seasonal part of Star Stanton Rd. While the snow was not deep, we found ourselves walking in the tire tracks of a vehicle that had passed through that area at some recent time. While surface conditions were not terribly icy, using foot traction was a necessity today, and the group still had one hiker go down to the ground because of ice-covered road surfaces.
I knew from my previous section hike of this portion of the trail last summer that the FLT turn into the woods from Star Stanton Rd was easy to miss, and in fact the group did miss the turn. As a result, the group continued up Star Stanton RD, stopped at Time Square and came up with a plan to hike the yellow 4 trail until it met with the FLT.
Once we met that intersection we decided to continue on the FLT for another 15 minutes before turning around to take the FLT back to the cars, to account for the faster down-hill walk.
This in fact was what we did.
Once we turned back from the yellow 4 trail to the FLT, it was the best part of the hike. The group was passing through a canopy of fresh snow-covered trees that closed in around the single file of hikers for this portion of the hike. Walking through glades of evergreens that had a fresh mantle of snow , crossing small streams coursing their way down the hill, and the general atmosphere of this section of the trail made all of the earlier uphill hike well worth that effort
When we got back to the cars the earlier snow had stopped and the view down the valley was phenomenal.
We saw a total of two other hikers and two bicyclists on todays hike. There were no skiers encountered on our portion of trail
My intention is to re-do this hike during summer months. During that time of the year the group will be able to park further up Star Stanton Rd and have to do less road walking. It would mean that we lose our epic view down the valley at todays parking location, but I would rather woods-walk than road walk on any hike.
The FLT from Bald Hill Road to Michigan Hollow Road, Danby SF
While I was en route to the hike, there was an observable shift in conditions; downtown was bare of snow. Lower Sandbank RD near Buttermilk, was similarly bare of snow.
Once I hit the junction with Townline RD, the first snow covering the ground appeared along the road
The closer I got to the meeting location, the deeper the snow I could see got
When I arrived at the parking area, I quickly checked the first few hundred yards of the trail., in case conditions were prohibitive for a hike.
Reassured that it was a good hike location, I returned to the parking lot to meet arriving hikers.
Thirteen hikers met at the junction of Bald Hill and Comfort Rds, for a hike of the FLT
Two additional hikers arrived late and basically hiked together along the FLT route that the main hiking body was taking.
An additional hiker arrived and chose to do a hike route unique to herself.
The ground and trees were covered by a fresh coating of clean, white snow. Snow on the trunks of trees appeared as if a clean white sweater was being worn by the tree for a special occasion.
The snow on the FLT itself was just deep enough to show a clear path that an unknown single hiker had made for us of our route previous to our arrival.
The wind swept through the trees, leaving branches groaning with each gust.
When passing close by a stream, the sound of the running water was inviting. On stretches where the stream was already iced over, hikers could still hear the faint sound of the water running underneath the cap of ice.
On the outbound leg I led the group, with hikers enthusiastically chattering away behind me about these various observations.
Upon reaching Michigan Hollow RD the group paused for a few minutes to allow stragglers to catch up, before striking out for the return leg of the hike.
On the return leg I asked Jack V to lead the group while I acted as sweep, giving me the opportunity to stop, look and listen at those things I was passing which I might have missed on the first leg of the hike.
All in all, this was an excellent hike, on an excellent day. I couldn’t ask much more of a winter hike than what we had today
Sat Jan 9
Hike report and two photos by Jim
Kennedy SF, Virgil
13 hikers and 3 four legged furry hiker companions met on Daisy Hollow RD for a hike of Kennedy Forest in Cortland County.
It should be noted that upon arrival at the trailhead, I was surprised to find active logging occurring.
The roadway to the parking area has been smoothed out from its prior rutted and center-humped condition, and the road to the parking are has been extended for use by logging vehicles.
Hikers had to contend with the noise of tree felling and vehicle movement of logging vehicles over the course of the hike. Only one logging road has been cut through the section of trail we travelled over. I’m sure that given the passage of time those fresh gouges through the trees will offer us additional hiking opportunities…..
Hikers set off over a trail that was in very good condition for hiking; there had been some trail use by others, but not so much that the trail was reduced to a slippery mess of ice and risky surfaces. Foot traction was a good idea mainly because of the many uneven surfaces found on this hike.
The sun was out, creating a good contrast of shadows cast from surrounding trees and the glare of light off the clean white snow covered surfaces.
There was a single water crossing, with water levels high enough to cause hikers to choose their foot placement carefully before crossing the running water. There was more than one rock in the streambed that offered less of a secure footing than initially assumed, due to a crust of ice on the stream rocks
The group quickly made its way up the FLT before taking a turn onto the blue blazed Swedish loop. Here was a path less travelled compared to the FLT, with at most one person having travelled that route ahead of our group.
Upon reaching the yellow blazed short-cut back to the FLT, the group was now breaking trail through untouched snow. The snow depth was not an impediment to our hike on any way through that area.
After reaching the FLT the group turned back down the trail towards our cars. It was here that we started to encounter small groups of people who were similarly out for a hike on the FLT.
We arrived back at our cars a full thirty minutes earlier than normal. I guess that we really had walked the trail at a faster pace than I had thought. With that much time left to hike, I suggested to the group that we cross the road and continue on the FLT over a section that the group ( to my knowledge ) has never hiked. Several hikers took me up on that offer, and so we made a bit of a road walk to the FLT om the opposite side of the road. Almost immediately after entering the trail we were faced with options of following either the Spanish loop or the FLT; the latter would have involved a significant water crossing that I think will limit us to hiking this section of trail only when water levels are low in the summer. The group then chose to examine the signage for the Spanish Loop, with individual hikers taking pictures of the sign for later reference. So many did this that I opted to take a picture of hikers taking a picture of the sign ( see attached )
All in all, it was a good hike.
A nod of recognition goes out to the unnamed hiker I met at the trailhead while I was waiting for the group to arrive. He emerged from the trail as I waited by my car, and we had a long talk as he re-arranged his pack from night hiking to day hiking configurations. He is/ was training for the “Saranac Six”, which is apparently a 24 hour event next month in which participants summit six peaks in the Saranac region in winter conditions. This man has been training in the area of Kennedy Forest on a daily basis in preparation for the event.
Fifteen hikers and four dogs met in the North parking lot of the Park Preserve on Irish Settlement Rd
An additional hiker arrived late and opted to hike with the sweep element once she encountered them.
Today was a much more overcast day than Saturdays hike, with more of a noticeable wind to deal with during the hike.
I always enjoy the lower flat areas of this hike where the group passes through the monoculture of tall evergreens, and today was no exception.
On the upward hilly portion of the outbound leg of the hike it seemed like we would be under the green canopy with a gloomy ambiance to the hike, and then we would walk into an area that lacked overhead cover and find ourselves on a much brighter section of trail for a few short feet.
Soon enough we found ourselves on the last flat stretch approaching Hammond Hill Rd. That area is always a relief to me after the uphill portions.
Once across Hammond Hill Rd and onto the yellow trail network the larger group broke down into smaller elements. Some hikers chose to forge ahead at a fast clip, eventually reaching Canaan Rd before turning around. Some chose to hold back and admire the terrain they were passing through, but not going as far as the faster element. Soon enough everyone turned around to return to the cars
Trail conditions were not bad overall. The trail was well worn by previous hikers over the past several days. Some areas that are normally boggy in the warmer summer months had a thin crust of ice that a passing hiker would break through as they walked along. All in all there was minimal ice, and nearly everyone came prepared with adequate traction for the terrain conditions. There was minimal trail use by others while we were there. A couple of solitary dog walkers and young families with small children bundled up against the cold wind did pass by us at various times during the hike.
Fifteen hikers met at the junction of Carter Creek RD and Rowell Hill Rd in Newfield for a hike of the seasonal portion of Carter Creek RD. My expectation of the route was that it would be a level tamped-down snow surface due to its normal use as a snowmobile trail in the winter months. This was the condition the road had been in last winter when we last road-walked the route in colder months. My initial observations of the trailhead on this hike day didn’t cause me to have any concern that conditions would be otherwise.
Once the group set off, we found that there was minimal snowpack on the road. Multiple vehicles at some point had driven down the road, causing deep ruts and an uneven road surface that had to be picked carefully through as you walked along the route. This was severe enough that some of our hikers choose to turn around and end their hike prematurely.
The main body continued on until reaching the hour turn-around point. The route, which travels primarily through state land, was in such a state that hikers couldn’t really appreciate the surroundings but instead had to watch their feet to avoid catastrophically crashing to the ground.
On the return leg of the hike the sun, which had stayed behind cover on the outbound leg, finally appeared and seemed to push us further down the trail as it shone down on our backs from behind us. The wind, which had been intermittent on the outbound leg of the hike, died down and gave the group a much more pleasant return trip to our vehicles.
And here are four shots I got before Tiger and I turned around because we found the snow too choppy:
Sat Jan 2
This report was written by Jim
East Hill Rec Way
On Saturday January 2nd, 18 people and four dogs met at the parking lot near the bottom of Snyder Hill Rd for a stitched-together hike of several of the urban multi-use trails in the area. The weather initially was extremely windy, with patches of rain. I carried an umbrella during the hike, and at least some of the group came equipped with rain gear. This surely contributed to us NOT having rain during the hike……
The group left the parking lot onto the Vincent and Hannah Pew Trail, but almost immediately jumped off that paved walkway for the Wilderness Trail that runs alongside the Pew Trail for a significant portion of that trails distance. Trail conditions on the Wilderness Trail were intermittent areas of standing water covering patches of ice. This caused some issues for some members of the group, who opted to return to the Pew Trail and walk the paved trail surface there. They were joined by some late arrivals.
The main body of the group pressed forward until the Wilderness Trail rejoined the Pew Walkway near Tudor RD. We then returned to Pine Tree Rd.
Arriving at Pine Tree RD the group crossed the intersection there and walked along Honness Lane to the junction with the East Hill Rec Way.
Walking Northwesterly on the East Hill Rec Way, it was my intention to jump off the paved Rec Way and walk the Hawthorn Thicket Loop that is just before the Rec Way crosses Mitchell Street. Reaching that trailhead however, we found notices posted by Cornell University that the Hawthorn Thicket Trail was closed until April due to extended periods of deer hunting the University was allowing on the property.
The group continued on the Rec Way, crossing Mitchell Street and eventually arriving at Maple Ave. Not being familiar with the trail route beyond that intersection and my original plans having not included such an extensive hike of that stretch of the trail, I opted to turn the group around and returned us to Mitchell Street. From there we walked to Pine Tree Rd and the sidewalk to the East Hill Rec Way leg that crosses over Pine Tree RD on its way to Game Farm Rd. The group walked that portion of the trail as far as the McDaniels Nut Grove before turning around and re-tracing our steps back to our cars on Snyder Hill Rd.
The hike, despite the last minute route changes and the spills that some people had early in the hike, seemed to go well. There were some stretches’ of the Rec Way where we were encountering multiple joggers, dog walkers and other users of the trail, but most of those interactions went well.
Cian brought a new pole for his camera equipment, but prevailing winds kept him from deploying the pole during the hike. I’m sure that we’ll see some fantastic pictures from Cian using this equipment in the future.
Nice cloudy morning, just below freezing — a bit breezy at the meet-up, otherwise very pleasant
The snow was mostly gone on the ride out, but quite deep at the trail head, elevation 1400′. This is the entry to the FLT from Fisher Settlement Road
Cian has a new very long pole for his panoramic camera. He discovered on Saturday that it can be hard to use in the woods, but there was room to really extend the pole on this walk.
Clare demonstrating the snow depth at the snowmobile trail. I wonder who threw the tire there ….
I love the patterns created by the various types of trees we walk past on this road in particular. Couple of very dark and gloomy woods looks below.
Our hard-charging hikers made it quite a long way down the road before they had to turn around. I was dawdling along in the back, talking to someone about the prospects of living to a very old age. I love the bleak quality of these woods on a dark winter day and it seemed like an appropriate topic. (I learned a few weeks ago that I probably have Viking ancestry — had my dad’s Y-DNA analyzed — haplogroup I1, SNP I-M253.)
There was ice on the road in scattered spots but in general it was clear. Because the road isn’t paved with asphalt, it’s comfortable enough to walk on even when you’re wearing moderately aggressive foot traction.
Only a few cars passed.
I’m a huge fan of dark brooding woods and this stretch is a great one.
Not everyone on the walk made it into the group shots. I urged those wearing masks to hold their breath and pull the mask down for a few seconds so everyone could see their faces. Not too many takers.
Here’s one of Cian’s shots using his new long pole — he can really get some elevation:
12 people and a single dog met on Ridgeway Rd for a hike of that section of the FLT, towards White Church RD
It had been a couple of days since the last significant snowfall, and I have considered that stretch of the trail to be a popular one that I thought would have seen some use in the intervening time since snow fell.
While someone had clearly plowed the trail surface down from the original snow depth, we found that the trail from its Ridgeway Rd junction had been used by at most a couple of skiers, one or two walkers, and a few animals. As a result, the walk was a slow slog through several inches of deep snow; not enough to call it true posthole hiking, but as someone in the group described it, it was like walking through dry sand. Not a pleasant hike for me, and while many members of the group put on good faces about the experience, I can only assume that others shared my sentiments about the hike.
When the group reached the turn to cross the fields towards White Church Rd, we found that the FLT was entirely untouched snowpack.
I made the decision to turn around and upon reaching Ridgeway Rd to finish out our remaining hike time with a road walk. The group accomplished this, walking towards White Church Rd on Ridgeway RD before returning to our cars.
Ekroos Road (aka State Land Road), just across the Tioga County line in Candor
Hikers met on Ekroos Rd, just over the line into Tioga County.
Ekroos Rd runs off of Honeypot Rd, which is what South RD in the Town of Caroline turns into after crossing the county line.
The parking area was about 2 /10s of a mile from Honeypot Rd, and while the plows hadn’t entirely cleaned out the parking area, there was enough space that everyone’s cars could be accommodated for the most part.
The group started out a few minutes later than normal, as this was the first time the group had hiked this location and several members of the group had difficulty getting to the meeting location. After the group set off, a couple more hikers arrived and met the group further down the road.
The group passed a snowmobile trail that appeared to have been entirely unused despite it having been a few days since the last snow fell. This is something I have noticed this winter season; snowmobile use appears to be very minimal this year compared to previous winters.
Ekroos Road is maintained to a seasonal dead end due to a couple of residences about 2 ½ miles from Honeypot Rd. This resulted in a fairly long stretch of plowed roads ( easily hiked ) with minimal vehicular traffic, although we did encounter a couple of cars travelling up or down the road. The outbound leg of the hike is a gradual descent through tall pines on state land; towards the end the surrounding land transitions to privately held properties.
After a few turns and a mile or so of walking, the trees on the Southerly side of the road gave way to open fields and views down the valley. While there were some atmospherics that did slightly obscure our view of some things in the far distance, it was not to a degree that prevented us from being able to see quite a bit of the surrounding area.
Along the way we passed over several small streams that cross or follow the roadway. The ice formations along the roadway on some areas of the walk were quite enjoyable as well.
Reaching the residences at the end of the maintained portion of road, some members of the group opted to turn around immediately. Beyond the end of the maintained roadway the road takes a sudden sharp descent; the road surface appearing to be benefitting from some amount of privately maintained plowing of the roadbed in this area. Some members of the group opted to walk a few minutes further through this section. While the road there passes along a very nice small gorge area, we soon found that the road surface itself was extremely hazardous due to ice covering the entirety of the roadbed, and so we turned around and started back towards our cars.
Once we reached our cars, some members of the group opted to fill out remaining hike time by over-shooting the parking area and walking to Honeypot RD and then turning around to return to our cars. This brought us up to the two hour hike time almost perfectly.
There was some interest among some of the hikers today to re-do this hike during the summer or fall when the leaves are out, so we’ll probably be seeing this hike location again.