Report to Hikers February 12-February 18

Wednesday, February 14

Bob Cameron Loop, Connecticut Hill, Newfield

Hike report by Casey

It was a cold morning of 15 degrees when 13 hikers met at the tower on Connecticut Hill. Thirteen of us started out on the FLT which led us to the Bob Cameron Loop.

We had completed the loop by 10:50 so we spent the rest of the time with an out and back on the FLT and managed to get back to the cars on schedule after having logged 4.51 miles, with an elevation gain of 738 feet. The footing was fairly good given that I suspect some of that trail was quite muddy just a few days ago. But the cold temperature seemed to cure that problem for the moment.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, February 17

Lime Hollow Nature Center, Cortland

Hike report by Jim

Eighteen hikers met in Cortland County for a hike of some of the Lime Hollow trails. This location is hike 37 on our list of regular hike locations:

I changed our route up a little for todays hike; normally we start our hikes here on the west side of Gracie Rd and conclude on trails on the east side of Gracie Rd. I switched that up today by reversing that order.

It was a cold morning with a thin layer of snow from overnight flurries coating everything in the nature center. The group walked Lehigh Valley to Maple Run, stopped to check out Chicago Bog, and then made a loop out of the Memorial Trail and Esker Connector to get the group back to Maple Run and from there back to the parking lot.

Crossing over Gracie Rd to continue on the Lehigh Valley trail, the group soon turned onto Fen Way, then to Hermits Way and Wilderness Way. The group has often discussed checking out the Wilderness Way trail, but as we’re often here in the fall hunting season when the Wilderness Way is closed for hunting, this was our first hike to be able to check out that trail.

The Wilderness Way took a little longer to navigate than I had expected, and by the time the group was back on the Lehigh Valley Trail heading back to our cars there was a significant snowfall coming down and the hike had run a good thirty minutes past our normal hike time.

Welcome to David on his first hike with the group!

After the hike many hikers reconvened in several waves of hikers coming and going at Hopshire between noon and 3 PM to celebrate my imminent departure to Georgia to begin a thru hike of the AT. Thanks to all hikers who attended or sent their well wishes! The gifts will be put to good use!

Here is a special note from Jim:

I wanted to say thank you to all who not only hiked today at Lime Hollow but all those of you who arranged for the use of Hopshire and those who were able to come together to celebrate my imminent departure for the AT. I want to include also those of you who are ill or otherwise unable to come but who sent your well wishes.

I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to have all of you as friends and companions, not only on the trail but additionally in the social events that we share as a group such as todays gathering. These social events have been a special aspect of being an Ithaca Hiker fpr me, and I always look forward to seeing all of you in a social setting away from the hikes. Thank you for your gifts and cards today; I will put them to good use!

As I have often said to many of you, I prefer to lead hikes where there is  a great view, a geological feature along the hike route, a “gotcha” moment that makes the rest of the hike especially worthwhile. I am sure that in the next months where I’ll be looking at some such feature I’ll be wishing that all of you could be standing there with me to share in the experience.

Thank you to all of you for your years of support in all things Ithaca Hikers-related. For those of you who have been able  to step forward to plan and  lead hikes, or oversee our social media platforms  and email lists while I am away, I am especially grateful for your efforts in the coming months.

If I missed an opportunity today to say thank you in person today at Hopshire I apologize.


Photo by Jim

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Photos by Norm Trigoboff

Sunday, February 18

Hill Road and Curtis Road, South Danby

Hike report by Jim

Seventeen hikers and one dog met at the junction of Hill and Curtis Rds in the Town of Danby, for an out-and-back hike that included parts of the FLT and Abbott Loop in addition to portions of Curtis Rd. This is hike # 57-2 from our list of common hike locations:

The morning was cold and clear; a frigid breeze greeted hikers as we assembled at the trailhead. After a quick photo the group set off down Curtis Rd in a southerly direction, passing a residence or two, some open fields that can be VERY breezy on a windy day regardless of the season, as well as Karenville, before entering the seasonal portion of Curtis Rd. The snow was still fairly fresh and not too deep or slippery, so once we reached the FLT where it crosses Curtis Rd we turned westerly into the FLT, hiking generally downhill through Danby State Forest until we reached the junction with The Abbott Loop Danby State Forest. Continuing on the FLT portion of the Abbott Loop the group continued westerly, climbing the grade towards the seasonal portion of Hill Rd. The group remained on the FLT until our turn-around time and upon reaching a downhill portion of trail that proved to be somewhat slippery for some in the group.

The hikers turned around and re-traced the route, by now thoroughly warmed up from the elevation gain and loss during the hike. Many in the group arrived back at our cars a few minutes early, so they road-walked easterly on Hill Rd to use up the few remaining minutes of hike time.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Photo by Greg

Report to Hikers February 5-February 11

Wednesday, February 7

Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve

Hike report by Mary Weiz

Nineteen hikers and zero canine met to circle and loop the Ellis Hollow Preserve until they reached the 1h 52m mark and 4.3 miles. Welcome Nathan who joined us for his first hike with this group. 

Hikers began walking in chilly 27 degree mostly clear, blue air which heated to 36 degrees after two hours. The group enjoyed no precipitation.

The preserve encompasses 111 acres of woodland donated by Barbara Keeton and family to the Finger Lakes Land Trust and is located in the Town of Dryden. Notably, it’s home to the only native magnolia in the region (according to FLLT information)! Look for it Mid-May. Streams in the preserve feed into Cascadilla Creek and were moderately full this morning. There was some visible ice in the streams and only a small amount on the trails. Hikers did well with or without light foot traction. The Dominion Transmission Plant is in operation and still apparent at the onset of the hike. 

Only five hikers completed the final push to cover every inch of walkable area, all yellow, red and blue trails . . . walking each either once, twice or few . . . three times. Near the very end, hikers encountered the only downed tree, which was on the yellow trail. Then, hikers were heading south and close to the kiosk.

Photos by Mary Weiz

Saturday, February 10

 FLT in Danby State Forest

Hike report by Casey

We started from Durfee Hill Road and Route 96-B with 24 or 25 hikers. It was 46 degrees when we started and it seemed to climb quickly as we quickly climbed a seriously steep and long hill on our way to the Tamarack lean-to and beyond.

This was a simple out and back hike on the FLT. Our out and back hikes are purposely designed in a way that absolutely anyone and everyone can hike at whatever speed suits them, whether that is fast, slow, or in-between.

The bunch that were out front most of the time, which I think was more than half of the whole group, managed to get just about to South Danby Road where we turned around and headed back. Much to our surprise, when we got to what seemed like a serious up hill on the way out, was now and even more serious downhill on the way back.

We ended up with 5.84 miles and an elevation gain of 978 feet, and less mud than I expected.

Sunday, February 11

Lloyd Starks Loop, Connecticut Hill, Newfield

Hike report by Nancy Lorr

25 people and 1 dog gathered at the corner of Boylan and Lloyd Starks road in Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area on a spring like winter morning. After the group pic and intro, we headed up Lloyd Stark road.  A trail takes off to the left and heads first through a short piece of sloppy clear cut and up into a piney hillside.  This was our only climb of the hike, approximately 600 ft of elevation gain.  After regrouping at a small pond at the top, we traversed the plateau  top of Rowell hill.  We encountered traces of human settlement like the pit of a foundation and some rock walls.  Next we had a nice view South across a meadow.  Then we headed to another lookout further south which gave us a Northeast view.  Next we crossed over to the other side of Lloyd Stark road and headed gradually downhill to a beaver pond for a quick glimpse.  We successfully traversed a  swampy portion to make our way back to the cars for a hike of 2 hours.

Photo by Nancy Lorr
Photos by Maria McMahon

Report to Hikers January 29-February 4

Wednesday, January 31

Monkey Run Natural Area

Hike report by Leigh Ann

Twenty hikers and two hiker dogs met at the corner of Hanshaw and Lower Creek Road for this hike. 

There are many ways to do a hike from this trail head, depending on trail conditions. For today’s hike, we took the red trail south then southeast to Fall Creek, then followed the red trail northwest to intersect the orange trail. Then we took the main orange trail west. Because the trail was thawing and getting increasingly muddy, we chose to take the short cut across the last field before the bluffs. We enjoyed the view at the bluffs for about 5 minutes. Then we returned mostly via fields and arrived at the cars 10 minutes early.  

This hike does not normally include the portion that goes from the Hanshaw parking lot to 13 and back. That portion is only about 20-30 minutes each way. 

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, February 3

Shindagin Hollow State Forest, Brooktondale

Hike report by Leigh Ann

Twenty-three hikers and one dog met at the snowplow turnaround where north Shindagin Hollow Road turns seasonal for a rim trail/road hike. This hike goes south on the road about 0.2 miles from the snowplow turnaround, then enters the woods going east. It follows the rim of the hollow to where the trail bends back on itself to go steeply down to the creek. 

On our Thursday pre-hike, Leah Vosko, Gerald Kernerman, and I placed additional rocks in the stream to make the crossing easier. To paraphrase Jim Rolfe, the stream crossing on Saturday proceeded without incident. 

The trail then follows the creek south to Gulf Road. At the appropriate place on that section, we stopped to admire the incongruous golden shoe. After turning right on Gulf Road, we crossed the creek on Shindagin Hollow Road where the creek flows into a pond. This is where we first saw blue sky on Saturday’s hike. 

The route then heads north up Shindagin Hollow Road, which you can take directly back to the cars or which you can step back into the woods for about ½ mile of the outbound section. When we arrived at the cars at 11:30, the sun finally was starting to break through clouds and show what a beautiful day it would become.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, February 4

 Hammond Hill State Forest

Hike report by Nancy L.

23 people and 1 dog met on Star Stanton as reached from Rt 38, ie from the East side.   Another person joined us at the finger lakes trail (FLT)  junction with Star Stanton. Star Stanton is not maintained and was snow covered starting  about a half mile west of route 38 where we parked.  After a group pic, we headed steeply up hill along the road, the hardest work out of the hike.  The snow was quite evident and still crunchy and beautiful especially when we arrived at the FLT which turned left into the woods. We were greeted with a wintry picturesque scene that was effective in clearing the mind.  Occasionally we would dip down to cross a small ravine.  A short way in we encountered ski tracks which were not really disturbed by the hikers because the snow in the tracks was quite firm.  The challenge was to find the white trail markers, the only way to stay on track since we were quite spread out.  A few people turned back early and found it challenging to follow the markers back.  Most of the group made it past the tower at the top of the hill before turning back to retrace their steps at the hour mark.  We all arrived safely back at the cars in a timely manner.

Photo by Leigh Ann
Photos by Nancy

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

View Nancy’s photo album.

Report to Hikers January 22-January 28

Wednesday, January 24

Finger Lakes Trail from White Church Road

Hike report by Mary Weiz

Nine hikers (no dogs) met at the FLT parking lot on White Church Road in the Town of Caroline to hike approximately 4 miles in a westward direction from White Church into Shindagin State Forest and over to Brailey Hill Road. The onset of this hike requires a steep uphill climb (about 800ft – 1200ft elevation gain). One hiker even suggested that this particular hike be labeled a climb! 

Hikers reached Brailey Hill Road in an hour’s time at which point they chatted a bit and then traced their footsteps on the FLT in an eastward direction and back down the hill to the starting point. The trail was well marked with no blowdown obstacles impeding forward momentum. The pace was moderate, and the forest a pleasant canvas of greys, whites and greens. The morning was fully overcast, 33 – 37 degrees fahrenheit. The trail was covered with about 3-5 inches of moist snow blanketing a carpet of layered wet leaves. While this could have been a tale of slips, tumbles and slides, however, no such calisthenic can be reported given the deftness of a limber and thoughtful bunch.

Photos by Mary Weiz

Saturday, January 27

Loop Trail from Bald Hill Road to Dove Trail and back on the FLT, Danby

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-eight hikers and two dogs met in the Town of Danby at the junction of Comfort and Bald Hill Roads for a loop hike consisting of parts of the Dove Trail, the Abbott Loop and the FLT. This is hike # 20 on our list of regular hike locations:

The day was fairly wet at the outset; most of the snow on the forest floor was gone, ice was entirely absent, and the fog was prevalent in the early morning hours around the time of the hikes start.

The group posed for a quick group photo at hikes start–we had several new hikers who missed the picture due to late arrival- and then the group set off down the unpaved portion of Bald Hill Rd heading towards Station Rd, to jump onto the Dove Trail. The streams and ditches were running well, and this was obvious no later than arriving at the Dove Trail, as the roadside ditches were running with so much water that it caused one of our dogs to be skittish about crossing over it.

Arriving at the Dove Trail register the Dove Trail footpath splits into two separate branches. Casey led the main body on the lower branch, which leads to a portion of the Abbott Loop which can be quite wet during parts of the year. Those of us towards the back of the conga line missed the arrow that Casey had left for us, and after making a quick trail register entry for the hike we headed up the hill on the dark pink section of trail that circles higher ground and avoids the mud.

My subgroup ran into some substantial blowdowns on our section of trail and the main group, once we rejoined them further down the Abbott Loop, reported that the mud in their section hadn’t been too bad. The reunited group hiked the Abbott Loop to Dianes Crossing where we joined the FLT. From there we hiked the FLT past the Chesnut Lean-to back to the paved portion of Bald Hill Rd and our cars. We found that the FLT portion was the wettest section of trail we hiked today, as portions of that trail footpath consisted of running streams.

Welcome to new hikers Ana, Vandana, Abi, Rob, Michael and Christine. I believe there’s one hiker I’m leaving out of that list as my notes page didn’t survive the hike unscathed.

Photo by Jim

Sunday, January 28

Dabes Diversion Loop, Kennedy SF, Cortland County

Hike report by Jim

Ten hikers and a single dog met at the junction of Bleck and Hauck Hill Roads in Cortland County, for a hike in James Kennedy State Forest. The hike we ended up doing changed mid-hike; we wound up doing hike # 40-3 from our list of regular hikes:

The day was rainy prior to the start of the hike, with the precipitation changing to a light snowfall near the beginning of the hike that persisted throughout the morning. Overall it was a gloomy day, as the sun never once broke out from behind cloud cover to make an appearance.

Hikers set out from the parking area, almost immediately encountering some very wet trails on the Dabes Diversion Loop and active stream crossings with much more water flowing that what we normally find on this hike. There was a moderate amount of snow cover on the forest floor, as well as some remnants of ice that didn’t create much of a hazard; many in the group had opted to wear foot traction as a precaution.

The group encountered one blow-down on the Diversion Loop, but it was minor enough that it will require only a bow small for removal.

Hikers arrived at the scenic overlook at the field found at the junction of the Dabes Diversion Loop and the FLT. After a short pause there the group proceeded east on the FLT towards the Irish and Lithuanian Loops, passing by the Firefox lean-to and making a stream crossing along the way before turning around at the agreed upon time.

Upon a group discussion it was decided to change our original plans from doing a loop hike that included utilizing the Kuzia cutoff to return to our cars, to now making it an out-and-back hike by directly returning to the parking area via the Dabes Diversion Loop.

Thanks to everyone who braved the elements to hike today!

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers January 15-January 21

Wednesday, January 17

FLT from Woodard Road to Hines Road and beyond, Enfield

Hike report by Leigh Ann

Fourteen hikers met at Woodard Road, and two more hikers joined the main group near the end. As predicted, the temperature was COLD (wind chill 0 to 5), and the sky was completely clear and dark, dark blue.  

This was a fast, four-mile hike that warmed everyone up on seasonal roads before heading into the woods. We took the FLT east from Woodard to Butternut Creek Road and went clockwise to Van Ostrand Rd. and Thomas Rd. The views were astonishing where the roads crossed the hilltop. 

This next part is different from the normal route for Hike 12 because snow-covered ice can make taking the Rim Trail to the Upper Treman parking lot less than appealing. At the northern end of Thomas Road, we entered the woods on the FLT and took that to Butternut Creek Road. Then we went over to the CCC Trail, which we used to go to Upper Treman, over to the (closed) Red Pine trailhead for mileage and views, and back to the cars via the CCC Trail and FLT.

Because this hike is partly on roads, this is a fast hike that gets everyone back to the cars in a little less than two hours, even with snow and ice.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, January 20

Connecticut Hill Homesteads Loop

This hike was cancelled due to weather conditions.

Sunday, January 21

Cayuga Trail from Freese Rd.

Hike report by Casey

It was cold and windy. We had approximately 15 hikers and approximately one dog if I counted correctly.

I will say that this was what I call a challenging hike. Anytime the uphills are easier than the downhills, you know you have a challenging hike. Part of the challenge, especially at the front was a series of steps that were snow-covered enough that I wasn’t even aware that we were on steps at first. My intention was for the front of the pack to get all the way to route 13 before turning around, but the one hour in mark came before we were even close to that spot. So we did the right thing and turned around to complete the out and back hike on time.

It was a fairly slow going hike in that we only got 3.57 miles in 2 hours. And of course the cold and wind didn’t make things any easier. But as usual, it was still fun to get out on such a nice sunny day.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.