Wednesday May 18
Fischer Old Growth Forest, Newfield
Hike report by Jim
Fifteen hikers met in Newfield for a hike of the trail system within Fischer Old Growth Forest. It was a beautiful, warm morning, an omen of the hot and humid summer months ahead of us. Trail conditions were nearly perfect, with just a suggestion of mud along some of the streams on the hike.
We set off from the parking lot, quickly crossing the open fields before hiking into the woods below. The trail winds its way through some overgrown weeds before it enters the forest.
We began on the red trail, following that to the promontory with the dedication plaque for the forest. From there we retraced our steps and continued on the red trail until we reached the yellow-blazed trail loop.
This is the area that has the most appeal to me. As you hike down a former logging road, the forest floor below is relatively open, so you can see quite a distance across the flatlands. The larger old growth trees are in this area as well, which is something I always find enjoyable.
Completing the yellow loop we returned to the red trail and soon found ourselves navigating some steep inclines along the stream beds, first climbing down one side and then scaling the steep banks on the other.
The trail passes over some old stone walls before finally completing its loop back to the trail where we started. On past hikes, the group has opted to turn around and retrace our route on the red loop to make the hike last a full two hours, but no one opted for this on Wednesday.
Returning to the open fields, we followed the blue-blazed loop that goes through the open fields back to the parking area.
I am hopeful that at some point an additional trail loop can be carved out of the remaining land within the forest; we often run short on hike time, as was the case on Wednesday.
Saturday May 21
Connecticut Hill, Newfield
Hike report by Nancy L.
Eighteen hikers (some new) and three energetic dogs met at the easy-to-access Tower Road location in Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management area. We all parked along the east side of the road, allowing any traffic to pass without slowing.
After a slight delay to collect the last-minute arrivals, we headed mostly southwest along dry, easily followed trails, with Nancy L leading the way. We stopped at each trail intersection to keep the group together. After about a half hour, one experienced hiker turned back, having accomplished his goal. The others continued along a beautiful trail on the shaded north-facing slope before gradually turning south.
We skirted a clear cut, following a new bypass trail, and reached a large pond. We then retraced our steps on the bypass and elected to return via the more-travelled red trail. This direct route back to the cars was welcome since the temperature was starting to climb into the high 80s and it was a slight uphill.
When we were within sight of the cars, half the hikers opted to end the hike a little early, while the other half checked out a nearby loop for about 10 minutes.
Overall, I think everyone was glad the hike was a little less than two hours…it was now HOT, and we were glad to be back to the A/C of our cars with all hikers and dogs accounted for.
Sunday May 22
Stevens Suspension Bridge – Cornell Natural Areas
Hike report by Jim
Seventeen hikers and four dogs met in the parking lot near the Stevens suspension bridge for a hike of area trails. The day was sunny, with breezes and a hint of humidity to come.
After crossing the suspension bridge, the group turned to the southwest, following the Cayuga Trail through the woods. I was particularly interested in doing this hike today to check out the trail conditions after the recent repairs to mitigate winter damage.
The undergrowth was in its full summer growth, leaving us a narrow but clearly defined path through the woods. Once we’d left the open areas, the coolness of the forest closed in around us.
We completed the first trail loop and emerged onto the Robert Trent Jones golf course, which was seeing a fair amount of use. We stayed off the greens, following the edge of the course along the treeline.
Eventually we cut through the woods and walked past the equestrian barns in the area of Bluegrass Lane. Several foals were out of the barns, and we paused briefly to check out the horses before continuing on the hike.
We circled the fenced fields and then returned to the woods and the Cayuga Trail, taking the red-blazed trails on the bluffs overlooking Fall Creek. The trees have now fully leafed out, depriving us of any clear views of the flatlands below. Eventually the trail led us via a spur trail to the trail network on the flatlands along the creek and back to the suspension bridge. Along this portion of the trail we passed over some of the repaired boardwalk that travels through the muddier areas; Jack V had participated in the repair.
We crossed the suspension bridge toward Forest Home Drive, then jumped on the blue, red, and yellow trails there. This took us in a second loop; along the way we were treated to a lively pair of woodpeckers who followed us briefly before flying on.
We arrived back at the cars with 10 minutes to spare, but overall it was a great hike on some trails we hadn’t been able to visit for a few months. I was glad to see the repairs and the trails being enjoyed by an assortment of people.