Report to Hikers — week of July 5 – July 11

Hello Hikers!

Tuesday July 6

Hike report and photo by Jim

Special longer hike — Hoxie Gorge SF, Cortland County

Five hikers met at the Hoxie Gorge Rd trailhead for a hike of part of the Hoxie Gorge State Forest.

The weather had not been cooperative earlier in the day, and in fact we cut the hike short because we thought that we had more inclement weather approaching.

From the trailhead parking lot the group walked a short way down the road to the blue blazed access footpath that leads to the Finger Lakes Trail. Signage indicated that the blue blazed trail was at one time the actual FLT, before it was re-routed.

The blue blazed trail ran nicely along the Hoxie Gorge Creek, although footing at points was somewhat iffy due to slick rocks and roots from the morning rains. Temperatures were tolerable, but the air was fairly muggy because of the recent rain.

There was a decent amount of water observed flowing in the streambed.

Eventually the blue blazed trail intersected with the FLT itself. My original intention was to take a left turn here and walk the FLT until we got to some open fields where the FLT map indicated several lookout points. The All Trails website listing for this trail spoke of the noticeable noise from I81 as the South-bound trail.  Because of the heat of the day and not wanting to be caught in the open if bad weather returned, I opted to take a right and follow the FLT South deeper into Hoxie Gorge State Forest.

Immediately after turning right onto the FLT, the path leads hikers through some majestic stands of evergreen trees such as we sometimes see here in Tompkins County. After a couple of minor water crossings and as the hikers approached Hoxie Gorge Freetown Rd, the footpath enters an overgrown section of trail that doesn’t appear to have regular maintenance or enough regular foot traffic to keep the undergrowth at bay. The group opted to turn around here, with the intent of returning to the intersection with the blue blazed trail and continue North on the FLT towards the near-by lean-to.

Upon returning to the intersection with the blue blazed trail the group observed that bad weather was setting in and chose to end the hike and return to our cars. The group returned to the trailhead via the yellow-blazed footpath maintained by SUNY Cortland; this trail runs along the blue blazed access trail, but further from the streambed. This route was both quicker and safer than the blue blazed trail.

Since this was the groups first hike at this location, I’ll make some observations in case other members of the group want to check out this hike. If using Google to map your route, if coming from Ithaca ignore any suggested route that doesn’t involve taking State Route 392 from Dryden, going through Virgil until it intersects with  Route 11.

On Hoxie Gorge Rd ignore the Google pin location previously emailed to everyone  and just drive to the end of the road where the very obvious parking area with signage ( it even says “parking” )  is. You’ll have to pass through a curved narrow one lane segment of road on Hoxie Gorge Rd to get to the parking area; be alert for the lane reduction. The blue blazed trail is a short way back down the road, but unless you want to get closer to the water my suggestion is to use the SUNY Cortland yellow blazed trail both in and out from the hike. Its safer and faster and takes you to the same place that the blue blazed footpath does. While we didn’t get to hike to the lean-to, my suggestion for a two hour hike is to go one way or the other on the FLT, either to the lean-to the North or the stands of pines to the South, and turn around and travel the other way to get your two hour hike time in.

Thanks to everyone who hiked with me today!

Randy, Nancy L, Elizabeth and Rich


Wed July 7

Hike report by Jim. Two photos by Elizabeth.

King Nature Preserve, Richford, Tioga County

7 hikers met in Tioga County for a hike of the  King Nature Preserve, a Land Trust holding that we hadn’t pre viously hiked as a group

Temperatures were high, as was the humidity level.

The threat of rain was unfounded, and if anything the direct sunlight and clear skies were uncomfortable

That being said, the trail in the Preserve was often muddy from recent rains.

The trail is a fairly short loop that passes through stands of a variety of hard and soft woods and old fields, as well as along a nice stream  for a short while ( coolest part of the hike, for obvious reasons ) that includes the ruins of what I assume is an old mill.

After completing a loop of the trail the group returned to the road and walked to the top of the hill where there are some nice views of surrounding farmlands.

Returning to our cars the group decided that there was enough time to complete a second lap around the trail, so we returned to the Preserve, this time taking the trail in the opposite direction from the first lap.

This brought us back out to the road at exactly two hours.


Sat July 10

Hike report by Jim. Photos by Tiger/shesse & Cian

Monkey Run Natural Area, south side of Fall Creek — Varna

Eighteen hikers and six dogs hiked the trails around Monkey Run Rd on the South side of Cascadilla Creek.

The initial group of around 15 hikers and 3 dogs left our cars promptly at 930, while the only slightly late arrivals formed a separate group that didn’t meet the main hiking element until nearly the end of the hike.

It was a sunny but cool day, one that was popular not only with our group but other day hikers, dog walkers and joggers who we found sharing the trail with us. The portions of the route where hikers had to be exposed  in the open for a longer period of time did not have the sort of hot, discomforting quality to them that some more recent hikes through similar open areas have had.

The trails throughout todays hike were passable although with often muddy or with standing water. The mud was the consistency of brownie batter, and hikers often had to choose between striding through the muck or trying to skirt the mess entirely and further expand the footprint of the trail footpath.

I was somewhat surprised to find that while the trail itself did have many wet areas along the route, the inclines on the hillsides were not particularly hazardous due to slippery mud and wet roots as I had expected them to be.

The streams and rivulets we hiked alongside or over were briskly flowing with no lack of water. With one exception the many footbridges made crossing over the smaller streams a non-issue; the one exception currently lacks any sort of footbridge and could strongly benefit by such an addition….

The group set off in the direction of Varna, initially travelling over the orange blazed trails that eventually bring the hikers out near Varna itself. A quick walk across the open fields soon brings the group to the red blazed trails, which we followed for the remainder of the hike. With the exception of a quick stop at “the beach” where we took a few quick photos and observed the levels of water in the creek bed, there was no deviation from the red blazed trail system until the end of the hike.

Towards the end of the hike the group passes by the side trail that leads back to the cars; the group continues on for another ten or fifteen minutes, in order to reach the appropriate hike duration. Eventually turning around, we made our way back to the side trail and emerged in the parking lot only a few minutes early.



Cian’s photos:

“Saturday monkey run was a sub hike from the group because we got separated pretty early on / Katherine, Iris, Amadou and I ended up doing more of a naturalist hike  – finished an hour late”

You can see Cian’s complete photo album here


Sun July 11

Hike report by Jim. Photos by shesse & Cian

South Danby Road east to the Tamarack Lean-to, Danby SF

Ten hikers and two dogs set off on the FLT from South Danby Rd

An 11th hiker arrived late and caught up with us on trail.

A 12th hiker with 3 dogs arrived but missed the main body of hikers and did her own hike.

It was a cool morning from the trailhead; I had originally planed to have the group head towards Curtis Rd but realized that in a fairly short time we would have been hiking over a section of trail that we had just recently walked. So I pointed us up the hill in the opposite direction towards the Tamarack Lean to.

Weather reports had given us a very good possibility of avoiding rain; in fact, a short-lived shower had met me when I arrived on South Danby Rd. We lucked out for the rest of the hike and escaped unscathed from any torrential downpours. Unfortunately the recent rains had left their impact on the footpath, and there was  a fair amount of standing water and decently long stretches of absolute watery thick mud on the trail to greet hikers as we charged up the minor inclines. It wasn’t until we reached some of the higher elevations amongst the evergreens that we had reliably firm ground to hike on.

This particular section of trail weaves in and out of a stretch of snowmobile trail. In the winter this is a convenient bypass for a hike, as the snowmobile trail in winter  is usually well-travelled and compacted while the FLT is more or less pristine and often untouched and the snow quite deep for those without snowshoes. Today I was tempted to jump onto the snowmobile trail to avoid the mud on the FLT, but ultimately stayed the course until we reached firmer ground

Katharine, who had hiked in the opposite direction, reported that the FLT in that direction was as bad if not worse than the portion the main body had hiked on.

I always enjoy hiking through the stands of evergreen, with the forest floor covered in a layer of old needles. Today was no exception, particularly after getting through the mud and water at lower elevations. The light shining down to the forest floor through the canopy was particularly enjoyable today. The lack of much undergrowth in these sections gives a hiker a good sense of the lay of the forest floor around them. This is much preferred to pushing your way through the lush summer growth of vegetation found on some parts of the Trail that limits your field of view to only a couple of feet immediately around you.

Eventually reaching Peters Rd the group paused long enough to offer up an adequate rendition of happy birthday to newly returned ( from an out of town trip )  Leigh Ann. From there we forged ahead until reaching the Tamarack lean-to. After making an entry in the lean-to trail journal, the group returned to the trail and hiked back to South Danby Rd without incident.

The group encountered some mushroom pickers along the trail and some of us paused long enough to pick a few mushrooms for themselves, but the remainder of the hike was otherwise uneventful.

It was Leigh Ann’s 53rd birthday. She got to the trail head a little late and didn’t catch up to the main group until well into the hike, while we were taking a break. As we heard her coming, the group burst into Happy Birthday, and she got into the spirit.


Cian’s photos:

“Sunday hike in danby – we noticed orange mushrooms early on , noticed that Mary was harvesting them (she identified these as chanterelles) when I returning so I took some pictures / before we left we ran into a group of mushroom hunters, who were kind enough to point out the edible mushrooms, including oyster mushrooms and king bolete mushrooms.   I noticed Katherine’s car, she had went the other way, so I waited for her to return – while I was waiting more mushroom hunters showed up with buckets and baskets”

You can see Cian’s comlete photo album here