Wednesday June 29
Lime Hollow Nature Preserve
Hike report by Jim
Eleven hikers met in Cortland County for a hike of the Lime Hollow Nature Preserve. There were no dogs, due to preserve policies.
Some hikers had voiced concerns about overgrown trails, but we found the grassy trail portions to be mowed and well maintained; we observed a couple of different trail maintainers along our route on this hike day.
It was a pleasant day for a hike as we made our way down the Lehigh Valley Trail to the High Vista Loop. After circling Baldwin Pond, we returned to Lehigh Valley, crossing that trail and continuing south on Hermits Way. We then returned north via Fen Way to the Lehigh Valley trail.
By that time, we’d hiked fast enough that we crossed over Lehigh Valley and continued on Fen Way before turning south on the Art Trail, in order to burn up some extra minutes.
We hiked back to the parking area on Gracie Road, with some hikers opting to end their hike early. The rest of the group continued on Lehigh Valley to Maple Run and the Chicago Bog. We changed up directions a bit here as I unintentionally took a wrong turn in the maze of trails, so we ended up doing the Phillips Memorial Trail as well as the Esker Connector in the opposite direction of how we normally hike those trails. The change of direction was actually quite nice, so we may do that route in the future.
After completing those loops we returned to our cars with just a few minutes to spare in our allotted hike time.
Saturday July 2
Shindagin Hollow State Forest
Hike report by Jim
Fifteen hikers and two dogs met on a cool, damp morning. The ground was slightly wet from the overnight rain but not badly so, as it seemed that most of the rain had been absorbed into the ground.
This was a bit of an unusual hike. Historically the Braley Hill to Shindagin Rd hike on the FLT is an out-and-back hike. Like many in the group, I tend to prefer a loop hike over an out-and-back hike that covers the same ground
I had looked over the various Shindagin maps and thought that we could try a somewhat different hike route by incorporating some of the bike trails into our route. Often this is not possible on summer weekend hikes due to the number of mountain bikers, but for whatever reason the bike trails on this day were empty.
I arrived early and hiked one of the bike trails a short distance in from the road. Once the group arrived, I proposed that we try something different by walking the outbound leg on bike trails and the return leg on the FLT. The group was up for the new experience, so we headed south on the blue trail #6 from Braley Hill Rd.
This proved to be a great hiking experience, with wide trails that were well maintained, as were the various wooden bridges and trail maintenance in general.
Trail 6 winds its way along streambeds, through stands of pines and hardwoods.
Unlike the return leg , much of the initial outbound leg of the hike was more or less a straight trip with only a turn or two.
Eventually we encountered some campers along the trail before coming out onto the southernmost parking area on Braley Hill Rd. Having missed the turn to the blue 4 trail that would have taken us north towards the FLT, we corrected this mistake and set off on the blue 4 trail. Unlike the blue 6 trail, had a number of 90 and 180 degree turns along the route, but this was still a very enjoyable trail passing through a variety of terrain.
Part of our problem during this hike was that before leaving my house I’d been looking at the Shindagin bike trail map, but had left that map on the table. During the hike I had only the FLT and snowmobile trail maps, neither of which lists the bike trails by color or number; anyone attempting this hike in the future should bring the current color DEC bike trail map.
In addition to the various twists and turns of the trail on the return leg, the bike trail splits at various points and isn’t always blazed with the blue trail discs at regular intervals. This required stopping periodically at intersections to confirm that we were in fact headed in the correct direction.
Eventually, believing that we’d missed our intersection with the FLT we opted to take a snowmobile trail directly back to Braley Hill Rd. In fact, we had made that turn just before crossing the FLT, so we found ourselves coming out onto Braley Hill Rd immediately south of our parking area at exactly the two hour mark. Either hiking an additional distance on blue trail 4, or jumping back onto blue trail 6 from the snowmobile trail would have accomplished the same result.
A light rain started to fall almost as soon as we reached our cars.
Despite the glitches I believe that everyone enjoyed this as a substitute for the regular FLT hike, so I’ll be adding it to our Shindagin hikes.
Sunday July 3
Bock Harvey Forest Preserve and Riemen Woods, Enfield
Hike report by Jim
Sunday’s hike included 21 hikers and two dogs. The day turned out to be sunny, with light breezes — an almost perfect day to be in the woods.
We set off from the parking lot and stopped at the lean-to for a group photo. From there, we churned our way up the blue-blazed access trail to the white-blazed FLT.
We made our way to Porter Hill Rd and crossed that into the Rieman Woods, where we seemingly flew down the loop, soon finding ourselves back on Porter Hill Rd. Walking back to the FLT we returned to the woods, hiking east and north through woods and open fields. The group was abuzz with conversation, a happy conga line of hikers behind me. At one point, several hikers discovered a mass of ripe raspberries along the trail and all forward momentum temporarily stopped until the berry pickers had completed their task.
When we came out out onto Rockwell Rd., some hikers chose to end their hike early, and road-walked back to their cars. The rest of us turned around and retraced our path along the FLT until we re-entered the Bock Harvey boundaries. Once there, we jumped on the yellow-blazed trail back to our cars and the end of the hike.
A warm welcome to Aiko on her first hike with the group!
For anyone working toward an FLT60 patch, this hike counted as 1 FLT mile.
View Gilbert’s professional photography website here: gilbertbhammer.com