Report to Hikers July 15-July 21

Wednesday, July 17

Finger Lakes Trail from Comfort Road

Hike report by Leigh Ann

Today’s hike was soupy, broken-up, pine-scented hell – but the company was good. Ten hikers met at the junction of Comfort Rd. and the FLT and hiked west for an out-and-back. After the tornados and other severe storms last Wednesday and yesterday, we expected to find a lot of downed trees and expected to do a lot of trail cleaning. This we did. 

As usual at this time of year, this stretch of trail was dry. At other times of the year, this is a mud slog. We picked our way slowly along it, having a visit with each other and removing smaller branches and trees. There are a few new step-over trees and one that will need chain sawing, but the trail is much nicer now up to the first field west from Comfort Rd., which is where we turned around. 

For the first half hour, the weather was nice, but the humidity increased so much that it felt like Alabama. We returned to the cars early at 11:15 after about 3.75 miles and 450 feet of elevation gain, and that was plenty.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, July 20

Dabes Diversion Loop, Kennedy SF, Cortland County

Hike report by Leigh Ann

Twenty hikers met at the corner of Hauck Hill and Bleck Roads on this third day in a row of classic Finger Lakes summer weather. That is, not Alabama summer weather. Jim and Nancy H. had prehiked this route the previous day to see if it was passable, after the previous weeks’ storms had brought down too many trails to keep some of the International Loops open. They had found six new downed trees over the trail on the Kuzia Cutoff, and it was evident that they had ensured that the trail was clear of branches for Saturday’s hike.

Because we knew the conditions of the Dabes Diversion Loop, we kept to the prehiked route on Saturday. It was a fabulous hike. The field west of the rock pile had just been mowed and it was as pretty as I’ve ever seen it. This is an excellent place to pause, admire, and gather everyone back together before heading down to the fancy new footbridge heading up to Bleck Road.

Even with the six new downed trees, hikers at the front arrived back at the cars in usual front-of-the-group time (1 hour 35 minutes). The day was warming up, so most folks were happy to head on to their next Saturday activities. A few walked back to where the Kuzia Cutoff meets Hauck Hill Road and re-arrived at the cars in exactly 2 hours from the start of the hike, after 4.12 miles and 512 feet of elevation gain.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, July 21

Potato Hill State Forest, Caroline

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-two hikers and three dogs met on Level Green Rd in the Town of Caroline, for a hike of the Finger Lakes Trail through Potato Hill State Forest and Summerland Farm Preserve.

This is hike # 29-1: on our list of regular hike locations. Todays route was on FLT map sheet M18, available here:

The day was sunny and warm, with a hint of humidity but overall, a pleasant day for a hike. The heat was nowhere near as oppressive as it has seemed in recent weeks, and several hikers were overheard commenting that today was more of what we’ve always thought of as traditional summer hike weather.

Quite often the lower sections of the FLT near Level Green Rd are quite muddy, but everything was pretty dry today. I had pre-hiked this route on Thursday to check for storm damage from our recent bad weather. There were a few blowdowns on today’s hike route, but nothing that presented a real obstacle to the group.

Reaching Blackman Hill Rd the group entered the Summerland farm Preserve; there is a short hike through the woods before the FLT breaks out into open fields with a spectacular view of several peaks in the far distance in almost any direction you look. There was a little haze visible in the air, but overall, it was still a great view.

After pausing for a quick group photo at the memorial bench the group pressed on, leaving the open fields behind and continuing through the woods on the FLT towards State Route 79, before turning around to retrace our route back to the cars.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable hike, and a great group of people to share the trail with. Thanks to all who came out for today’s hike!

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers July 8-July 14

Wednesday, July 10

Robinson Hollow State Forest

Hike report by Leigh Ann

Eleven hikers met where the FLT crosses Harford Road, and we headed south for an out-and-back hike. The weather was increasingly tropical. Given that the remnants of Hurricane Beryl were moving in, and the heat index was expected to be about 90 by 11:30, we decided at the outset to turn around early and not break any land speed records. We turned around at 10:20 and returned at 11:10 after about 3.9 miles and 700 feet of elevation gain and were completely happy about ending early. At the end of the hike, we hung out chatting at the cars for a good 20 minutes, not moving around much.

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Saturday, July 13

Westward on the FLT from South Danby Road

Hike report by Jim

Nineteen hikers and three dogs met on South Danby Rd for a westerly out-and-back hike on the FLT through Danby State Forest. This is hike # 22 on our list of regular hike locations:

The day started out sunny and warm, particularly in the more exposed areas such as Fisher Settlement Road and some more open areas the trail footpath passed through without the benefit of a forest canopy overhead. On the return leg of the hike a small breeze had begun to blow, which made things more enjoyable.

Once under the trees it was a mottled mix of shadow and light on the forest floor. Very enjoyable to pass through, although the effect is not obvious in the photos, as my camera opted to start using the flash in the more shadowed portion of trail.

There were a few blow-downs along the way, a mix of trees laying across the Trail or suspended in mid-air. Fewer in number than I expected, given the weather conditions that Danby had earlier this week

Normally the section of FLT just west of Fisher Settlement Rd is quite muddy, but that section was mostly mud-free, the ground in some places having at most the consistency of cookie dough. I’ve included a picture of the only standing water I saw during the entire hike.

The hikers broke down into faster and slower groups, the faster group being led by Leigh Ann and reaching Curtis Rd before turning around for the return leg of the hike.

Warm welcome to Nathan on his first hike with the group!

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, July 14

Potomac Rd trails, Finger Lakes National Forest

Hike report by Jim

Eighteen hikers and one dog met on Potomac Rd, for an out-and- back hike in the Finger Lakes National Forest led by Jack V. This is hike # 42-1 on our list of regular hike locations:

The day was very sunny and warm, but thankfully the heat wasn’t much noticed except for the open areas around the ponds we passed along the way.

Jack took the group on a somewhat looping route that took us through parts of the Interloken Trail as well as a couple of other trails in the vicinity

We shared the trail with a mix of bicyclists, dog walkers and a small group of overnight tent campers we passed early in the hike.

Trail conditions were generally good, although we did pass through a few areas that had more mud than I have seen on any recent hikes. The group did pass under one fairly large blowdown tree along our route

Since my last hike here many of the broken puncheon sections that I’ve seen over several years of hiking here have been replaced, which really added to my enjoyment of the route. Some of those old sections were downright dangerous to traverse, especially in rainy conditions.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers July 1-July 7

Wednesday, July 3

South Hill Rec Way/Six Mile Creek

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-one hikers and one dog met on Crescent Place in the city of Ithaca for a hike of the South Hill Rec Way and associate trails. This is hike # 2-1 on our list of regular hike locations:

The day was warm and sunny as we gathered on Crescent Place and took our group photo. Starting the hike on the actual Rec Way, we soon turned off into the woods and began a slow descent to join the many hiking trails that run along the Rec Way and towards the creek below.

There was no water running at the small water crossings, no mud at the usual locations along our route, and the footpath was in good shape.

The green tunnel blocked our view of second dam once we arrived at that vantage point.

Rejoining the Rec Way the hikers walked out and back towards Burns Rd to use up a few minutes of hike time, before taking the Rec Way directly back to our cars.

We encountered a few runners and bicyclists along the way today, but not as many as I expected.

Warm welcome to Hal on his first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Thursday, July 4

Woodard Road northwest to Hines Road and beyond, Enfield

Hike report by Jim

Nineteen hikers and one dog met on Woodard Rd for a special holiday hike of the FLT towards Hines Rd and beyond. This is hike # 13 on our list of regular hike locations:

The morning was nice, with a hint of precipitation that never materialized except for a small amount of rain that some hikers reported encountering while they were en route to the hike.

The footpath on this hike is a mix of overgrown weedy plants (including a LOT of poison ivy!) and a forest floor devoid of anything other than a nice spongey layer of pine needles. The terrain is a mix of rolling ups and downs, with a couple of minor stream crossings that rarely give us any issues this time of year.

Before reaching Hines Rd the FLT leaves the woods and crosses the open fields at the Treman Center: A short jog up Hines Rd and the group hiked another five minutes towards Rockwell Rd before the group turned around for the return leg of the hike. Everyone got back to the cars fifteen minutes early, so I probably should have continued the hike to Rockwell Rd before turning around.

Temperatures were not excessively hot but by the time we turned around I was definitely experiencing the heat of the day, even under the cover of the forest canopy.

On the return portion of the hike usually the group is fairly well divided between those who want to make it a loop hike by road walking back to the cars, and those who want to do a return hike on the FLT. Today only a couple of us did the road walk, while Mark L and Randy O led the main group of hikers back on the FLT at a good pace, with both subgroups arriving back at the cars at the same time.

Thanks to all who came out for this special hike today!

Photo by Jim

Saturday, July 6

Connecticut Hill Bridges & Quarry Loop 

Hike report by Dave Bock

18 hikers met at the Connecticut Hill Cemetery on a warm morning for this forested 4-mile trek. Heading steadily downhill for the first mile, we passed the remains of what’s rumored to be a Depression-era moonshiner still: a rusty old metal sink with a nearby cistern. At the bottom of the hill a stream crossing and some rolling terrain brought us to the top of an old gravel bank, a chance to enjoy a bit of a view and take a brief breather. A short but steep downhill then led to a streamside trail and eventually another crossing alonside some old pilings marking the location of a long-gone bridge that once bore the trucks hauling out the gravel. And then the climb back to the trailhed began — a mile steadily (relentlessly?) uphill, now at a much warmer temperature, with higher humidity and an escort of gnats. We paused along the way for brief visit to an abandoned homestead marked by stone foundations of both a barn and house, with a deep stone well (with water). Most of the group returned to the cars by 11:45 as advertised (Thanks, Jack!) while leader Dave accompanied a few slower (and hotter!) hikers at a more forgiving pace. Everyone was on their home before noon, after some quality time in the woods (OK, that’s redundant…) and a good workout.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, July 7

Shindagin Hollow State Forest

Hike report by Mary Weiz

Nineteen hikers, zero canine met at the FLT crossing on Braley Hill Road in Shindagin State Forest on Sunday morning. As planned, they hiked a pleasant and rigorous approximate 4 miles exclusively on the FLT starting at Braley Hill Road and proceeding westward to White Church Road. The sky was clear and the air temperature was about 70F at the start. The woodland was filtered with bright sunlight although the day warmed up quickly. Hikers made it to White Church road in no-time pacing at about 2.5mph! 

On the return trip, they traced their tracks uphill on the FLT eastward back to Braley Hill Road. Hikers ascended about 1600ft (or more) back into the forest still at a good pace, about 1 – 2 mph on the return thrip. Surprisingly, due to the temperature, now 75F, and the elevation rigor, hikers reached the cars with 10 minutes to spare . . . a fine bunch!

Throughout this hike there is a nice mix of hardwood forest, a fern glen, a small creek, meadow land, and when approaching White Church Road, distant views of forested hills. 

Photo by Mary Weiz
Photos by Leigh Ann

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Report to Hikers June 24-June 30

Wednesday, June 26th

Connecticut Hill Saddle & Pond Loop

Hike report by Dave Bock

17 hikers and a dog met at the Tower & Ridge trailhead on a nice day for hiking. The morning rains forecast earlier in the week got rescheduled for afternoon, so we were able to enjoy moderate temperatures, mixed sunshine and clouds, and an occasional cooling breeze. The 4 miles of trails were almost completely in the woods. Forests varied from mixed hardwoods to towering hemlocks, from younger trees to old growth, and in a couple of places were in various stages of recovery from DEC “habitant enhancement” cutting. In places the trails followed old roadbeds, while other sections were grassy, or cushioned by pine needles, or almost swallowed up by thick growths of ferns. The route was fairly level with only moderate changes in elevation, allowing the group to stick closely together (a necessary configuration where trails are not well-marked). A water break at the “saddle” (nickname apropos of the up-and-down curvature of hills there) and a brief side trip to a large woodland pond offered a couple of resting points before we wrapped up the hike at almost exactly the 2-hour mark. No falls + no blood + all 17 returning to their cars = a successful outing!

Photos by Jim

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, June 29th

Texas Hollow State Forest, Hector

Hike report by Leigh Ann

This may be the wettest and one of the most enjoyable hikes I’ve done with this group. When the sixteen hikers and two dogs arrived at the trailhead, it was raining heavily. It rained heavily all the way through the hike. 

The water table in Texas Hollow looks like it has risen over this rainy winter, spring, and summer because although the creek beds on the hillsides weren’t running, the water in the valley was very high. In some places it overtopped the boardwalk, with foot-deep water everywhere you could step. 

Once we decided that we were just going to get as wet as possible, it was glorious. We got as wet as possible and the weather was warm, so it was quite enjoyable. With that said, I’m sure several people removed as much clothing as they could before getting in their cars because, dang, that’s a lot of wet.

Photos by Jim

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, June 30th

Hulford road, Newfield

Hike report by Nancy Lorr

It was a beautiful clear and cool morning when 26 hikers and 4 dogs gathered at the corner of Boylan and Hulford roads in Connecticut Hill for a hike.  We started by hiking downhill along the blue blazed trail west of Hulford road.  The pine woods were shaded and cool and the hiking was easy on the pine needle laden trail surface. Emerging from the pines we spotted a few chanterelles. It didn’t take too long to arrive at a side trail sloping gently but quickly down to a picturesque series of small cascades along this branch of Carter Creek.  The showers a couple days ago provided some sorely needed water to the falls.  After a little stop at the falls we made our way over to Hulford road.  Some hikers used Hulford road to ascend back to the cars.  Others followed me on some paths through the woods on the east side of Hulford road.  Many of the paths followed old roadways.  Near the top we negotiated around a gully and up onto a series of trails along the edge of clear cuts.  Soon we went back into the woods until we reached the cars. Everyone was accounted for to make for a successful ending marked by a sudden but brief and cooling  rain burst.

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Report to Hikers June 17-June 23

Wednesday, June 19

Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve, Ithaca

Hike report by Mary W.

At 8:30 a.m. this Juneteenth 2024 twenty Ithaca Hikers and one dog met in the small parking area of the Ellis Hollow Preserve to take an earlier than usual start-time walk through the area. Thanks to all for adjusting to the earlier start. 

Today, we welcomed two new hikers:  Nina and Andy; a visitor, James and a long ago hiker, Kiera. 

As hikers stepped into the preserve it was about 78 degrees F, moist and nicely shaded throughout the woodland trails. Not surprising, no see-um flies were also present, but hikers moved at a consistent pace and the group managed just fine.

Generally, this hike takes only one hour and covers about 1.9 miles when hikers walk each of the red, blue and yellow trails just once. On this particular hike we usually have the option to walk zig zag up and around once, or twice. Twice around is the usual hike plan in order to cover 4 miles and to be on the trails for about two hours. 

This morning, after only once around, the air temperature had climbed nearly nine degrees, so several hikers chose to end their walk after once around. The other hikers (nearly half) chose to continue hiking the preserve a second time, in the opposite direction! Hikers’ often agree that this second time offers a pleasant and opposite perspective. It can be noted however, that even one time around Ellis Hollow preserve gives hikers a moderate amount of lively ups, downs and stream crossings. This morning the trails were a tad warm but no less of a really nice woodland walk! Thanks to all!

Photo by Mary W.
Photos by Leigh Ann

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Saturday, June 22

FLT west from Burnt Hill Rd. to Satterly Rd., Finger Lakes National Forest

Hike report by Leigh Ann

Twenty-one hikers and two dogs met at the Finger Lakes Trailhead on Burnt Hill Road and hiked west. Just east of Logan Road, we picked up a twenty-second hiker, Jim Rolfe, who had parked on Logan to catch anyone who might have gone there by accident (no one did). 

It was a steamy, hot day, so we kept a steady but not overly fast pace for the weather. In the last bit of shade before the open fields heading up to Satterly Hill Road, we hit the one-hour mark and turned around, arriving back at the cars exactly two hours and 4.2 miles later.

This section of trail is rewarding to hike but could use a little TLC from folks with a weed whacker. The verge encroached on the trail from the junction with South Slope Trail to where it begins parallelling fields on the slope up to Satterly Hill Rd.

We were drenched by the end of the hike. So, thirteen hikers and one hiker fan converged on Grist Iron for lots of water, some beer, and good food. We sat inside to enjoy the air conditioning, and had a nice, relaxed time.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, June 23

FLT from Carson Rd to Woodchuck Hollow Lean-To, Cortland County

Hike report by Jim

Eighteen hikers and four dogs met on Carson Rd in Cortland County for a hike of the FLT and the unnamed blue blazed trail in Tuller Hill State Forest. This is hike #60-6 on our list of regular hike locations:

The morning was warm and sunny, although not as bad as the Saturday hike temperatures had been. Just a few degrees cooler, accompanies by a breeze on much of the hike, made a big difference in my enjoyment of the hike and probably for other members of the group as well. The entire hike was under the forest canopy, which was much appreciated.

The groups initial climb from Carson Rd was slowed due to a number of blow downs encountered along the way, several locations along the trail being the site of several blowdowns interlocked or laying in a shattered state together. The previous evening had seen some significant windstorms accompanied by hail in the area, with multiple fallen trees observed on the drive to the trailhead. See a few attached pictures showing what the group encountered. A separate trail conditions report has been made regarding these blowdowns.

Photos by Jim

Beyond the first few blowdowns there were individual trees that will need to be cut up, the group encountering these single downed trees all the way to beyond the lean-to.

Other than the downed trees, trail conditions were mostly good, although there were spots of ankle-deep mud and slippery roots or leaves that made a couple descents a little precarious.

The group paused for a group photo at the lean-to before continuing on; a short distance beyond the lean-to the group jumped onto the unnamed blue blazed trail that returned the group to an earlier portion of the FLT that we had passed through.

Leigh Ann V led the group on the return leg of the hike, which was accomplished without incident.

We saw exactly one other hiker on the trail with us during our hike.

Warm welcome to Beata P on her first hike with the group!

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.