Report to Hikers — week of Dec 13 — Dec 19

Hello Hikers!

Wed Dec 15

Hike repport by Jim

Dabes Diversion Loop and related trails, Cortland County

8 hikers met for a hike of the Dabes Diversion/ FLT/ Kuzia Cutoff loop in Cortland county.

It was a cold brisk day, which probably caused some of our regular people some hesitation in hiking this day. It is inevitable that the group sizes dwindle somewhat in the colder winter months.

The group needed no encouragement to start hiking from the parking area, and soon we were making our first water crossing and churning our way up the hillside on the opposite side of the stream. One or two blowdowns across the trail had to be carefully navigated around,  but nothing like the major blowdowns that forced the closure of this section of trail a few months ago.

Despite the wind it was still a nice fall day for a walk in the woods; nothing like the temperatures we had enjoyed the previous day, and none of the rain predicted for later in the week. Some members of the group chose to hike slower and focus on enjoying the surrounding woods; they quickly fell behind the main group which was focused on completing the loop

Making the first hill climb and then following the trail as it leveled out we got occasional gusts of wind, lessened each time the trail passed through a lower elevation.  The sturdy stone walls always elicit a few moments of conversation as we pass over and by them. The stands of pine, as always, are among my favorites of any found on area trails.

Coming out to the overlook that gives a panoramic view of open fields was a little rough, as the wind was blowing with full force there, encouraging the group to not delay too long in continuing our journey.

We took a short detour to look over the near-by shelter before continuing on the FLT in our original direction of travel. Dropping in elevation towards the major water crossing on this hike, the wind finally ceased completely, which made the hike much more enjoyable for everyone.

Finding our way across the water the group continued onwards, climbing towards the road crossing before the Kuzia cut-off.

The group passed through the Kuzia cutoff portion of the hike at what I can only assume is a record pace for us. Other than a short pause for a trail log entry we stopped at nothing in our path, even the stone foundations on that section of trail that we pass seemingly unnoticed.  The DEC forest thinning operations along that stretch of trail  are healing somewhat, but still detract from the former enjoyment I had of that bit of trail.

Soon we found ourselves on the seasonal road for the last leg of the hike, a road walk back to our cars. We arrived at the cars a full 20 minutes early, so we opted to walk to the near-by snowmobile trail for a short out and back hike to burn up the remaining hiking time.


Sat Dec 18

Hike report and three photos by Jim

West Malloryville trails and Von Engeln Preserve with Bob B

Despite some of the colder temperatures in a week or so, and with intermittent light rain accompanying us on the hike, 17 hikers and 2 dogs met at the von Engeln Preserve on West Malloryville Rd in the Town of  Dryden.

Our hike guide for today, area resident Bob Beck, met the group in the parking lot and after a brief introduction set off on the trails.

This particular hike has normally been a summer hike for the group since I’ve been hiking with it, so it was nice to see the terrain in this area in a  different season. When I scheduled the hike several weeks ago I had hoped that by the hike date we’d have some true winter snow conditions, but in retrospect the actual trail conditions today were great for the group.

Bob B led hikers along several trails, climbing and descending along eskers while stopping periodically to share his extensive knowledge of the areas formation during past ice ages and  the more recent political struggles that led to the genesis of the Preserves creation.

We passed by several ponds, bogs and other water features, and eventually crossed over the ever-popular beaver dam. A recently installed rope helped with the steep descent to the dam.  Bob explained that the dam is starting to deteriorate due to the beavers having moved on to better feeding areas, but I felt that the dam was actually easier to cross over today than what I recall of its condition in the past.

Exiting the forest trails onto the former railbed, Bob led interested hikers down a hill to examine the underbelly of the 150 ( ! ) year old structure.

Bob soon returned the group to forest trails and led us a short way to a viewing area and a short description of natural formations there, before turning around and making a quick hike back to the vehicles.

A sincere thank you to Bob for taking time from his busy schedule to host our group today.

For those who would like more information about this Preserve, see:

O.D. von Engeln Preserve At Malloryville | TNC (

Bob has written an excellent book on the subject of the Preserve area. The Journey at Malloryville Bog ( 2013 ) which is available for purchase at Buffalo Street Books or online in print and Kindle formats

Welcome to Eileen and Mary for their first hike with the group!


Photos by Nancy L/Randy

You can see Nancy and Randy’s complete photo album here


Sun Dec 19

Hike report by Nancy L

Rowell Hill, Connecticut Hill WMA

On a cold, raw morning 17 hikers and one dog met at the corner of Lloyd Stark and Boylan in Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management area to hike up Rowell Hill. Since the original approach was a little mucky, Randy spent a couple hours on Wednesday morning preparing a detour through a recent clearcut to avoid it. The clearcut was anything but “clear”. But the result was a rough but passable trail, a challenge since some brambles and scrambled log piles remained. We traversed this bypass on the way in and out of the hike up Rowell Hill. We climbed the hill to a small pond and were sufficiently warmed up by the exertion. We took a loop that traversed the main plateau of Rowell Hill. It’s a pleasant level walk through a mixed hardwood and red pine forest. We gathered at the stone remains of a small foundation before arriving at a nice viewpoint over the surrounding countryside to the south. After arriving back at the main trail, we traversed another loop in a different section of the hill affording some more cloud-shrouded views of the countryside. Then we followed our tracks back to Lloyd Stark Road. From there we could see our cars, and the group split up into three. A few returned to their cars, a few walked up the road, and a small group crossed the road to a trail over to a sizable beaver pond surrounded by large pines. We were all happy to pile into our cars to warm up! It should be noted that we saw absolutely no sign of hunters…no sign of anything to hunt either.

Photos by Nancy/Randy

You can see Randy and Nancy’s complete photo album here