Monday July 4
Monkey Run Natural Area, south side of Fall Creek, Varna
Hike report by Jim
For our Independence Day hike, 19 hikers and two dogs set off from the dead end on Monkey Run Road for a hike of the Cayuga Trail system on the southern side of Fall Creek.
The day was warm and the trails almost entirely dry due to a lack of any recent rain. The skies were a deep blue, the long tendrils of white clouds overhead quickly pushed their way across the sky as we set off; soon the skies were entirely clear.
We set off heading west, quickly scaling the low bluffs beyond the parking lot and dropping down to the unimproved roads and open fields closer to Varna.
After a quick roadwalk, we were soon plunging into the woods to follow the red-blazed trails along the creek. Here we shared the trail with a handful of dog walkers. Here and there, people were wading in the creek in an effort to escape the day’s heat. We made a quick stop along the stream for photos and soon moved on.
The trail winds along the creek before climbing the surrounding hills. At the top of the high bluffs, we stopped to look down at the creek before continuing.
The red-blazed trail descends back to creek level, and the trail winds in and out along the shoreline. For the most part the trail was clear and easily navigated; in some parts the summer undergrowth in all of its peak summer height crowded the footpath. Occasionally we had to navigate around a fallen tree that hadn’t yet been cleared from the path.
Eventually we reached our turnaround point and retraced our steps to the orange-blazed side trail that returns directly to the Monkey Run Rd. parking lot.
Thanks to all who took time out of their holiday plans to join the group today!
I believe that the Monkey Run area trails, being maintained by the CTC, count as FLT miles for the purposes of the FLT60 patch. If so, we covered 4.1 miles on the Cayuga Trails trail system today.
Wednesday July 6
Jenksville State Forest, Tioga County
Hike report by Jim
Seven people met for the Wednesday hike in Jenksville State Forest. It was a little overcast at the beginning of the hike, but by the halfway point, when we came near some open field vistas, the sun was out. Other than swarms of gypsy moths there were no bugs, no mud, and little in the way of humidity that can often ruin an otherwise good hike.
We seemingly had the woods to ourselves as we made our way along the yellow-blazed multi-use trails on the western side of the state forest. Other than a brief pause for pictures near the fields vista and an extensive stone foundation area a short time later, we kept a steady pace throughout the hike.
The route was a moderate one, with only a small hill or two along the way to slow us down.
We emerged at the parking lot at exactly the two-hour mark.
I would like to come back here at some point in the future to do group hikes of both the red- and blue-blazed trails within the forest.
Saturday July 9
FLT to Van Lone Loop Lite
Hike report by Randy O.
Fifteen hikers and one small dog met on Gulf Road near the town of Alpine. The day was absolutely gorgeous, with cool temperatures, clear skies, and a light breeze. Very few bugs.
After brief introductions, we headed downstream along the Finger Lakes Trail. The creek was practically dry… an unusual sight to see. We made it to the old fallen bridge and crossed the dryish creek bed. Some of the lead group went up the side stream at the bridge. Everyone joined back up after a few minutes, and we continued uphill through lush forest. The trail then opened up into a bright field along Schoolhouse Road. We briefly stopped to check out the site of the former schoolhouse, then continued on the orange-blazed Van Lone Trail.
The group fractured into a few small pods on the way back, each going at their preferred pace. We ended up at the cars after nearly 5 miles, in 2 hrs. 20 min.
For a July hike this one was nearly perfect.
Photos by Nancy L. and Randy O.
Sunday July 10
South Hill Rec Way, Ithaca
Hike report by Jim
I expected that this hike would be well attended, from the number of RSVPs we received from the hike posting on Meetup. Twenty-seven hikers (including late arrivals) and seven dogs met in the city of Ithaca for a hike of the upper and lower rim trails that run along the South Hill Rec Way.
The outbound leg of the hike was relatively uneventful; the group got strung out relatively early in the hike, so we were pausing periodically for the extended line of hikers to compress so we could forge ahead. The footpaths were in great condition with no mud; the water crossings had at best a trickle to remind us of their normal state during much of the year.
We paused briefly near second dam to grab a quick group photo, then carefully picked our way down the ridge line to scale the short but steep hill beyond. Unfortunately, the leafy tree cover blocked our views of the reservoir. I do wish that there was at least a legal side trail that would take hikers to the water’s edge of second dam.
We soon found ourselves on the Rec Way, walking toward Burns Road to burn up a few minutes.
At the turnaround time, I offered the group the option of returning to our cars via the Rec Way or back through the woods. Most of the group preferred the woods route.
Walking back through the woods trails we had taken on the outbound leg of the hike we took a short detour to the deteriorating stone stairs that lead down to the water’s edge, for the benefit of our newer hikers who were on their first hike of this trail system.
After that side trip, we took the lower rim trails that lead to an area of the shoreline directly opposite Mullholland Wildflower Preserve. Unfortunately the bottom portion of that loop trail seems to have been sacrificed during the pump station construction a couple of years ago, so we had to retrace our steps to the nearest junction to get on a higher trail.
We made our way back to the cars, arriving back at the trailhead a full fifteen minutes later than normal. Most people didn’t seem to mind the longer hike, as a sizeable group of hikers remained at the curb discussing the day’s hike.