Tuesday August 9
FLT, Sugar Hill State Forest, Schuyler County
Hike report by Jim
Eight people and one dog met in Schuyler County for a first-time Ithaca Hikers group hike of the FLT in Sugar Hill State Forest.
Having never hiked the trails in the immediate area, we spoke to State Forest staff who were on site at the car camping area there. They advised we should stay on the FLT due to muddy conditions on the multi-use trails there.
Our hike consisted of an out-and-back hike of a green tunnel section of the FLT. Trail conditions were good overall.
While the area was nice, it lacked the sort of significant viewsheds, geographical landmarks, etc., that make a particular hike location stand out in my mind. I doubt that we will be making a return trip to the area, given the drive time. Those who want to car camp in the forest would likely enjoy the area.
The length of the hike was 3.5 miles for those earning their FLT60 patch.
After the hike, a number of hikers stopped by Casey’s saw business and were treated to a wonderful demonstration of saw repair by Casey. Thanks for giving us your time, Casey!
Wednesday August 10
Virgil Mountain, Cortland County
Hike report by Jim
Twelve hikers and one dog met in Cortland County for a hike of the FLT on Virgil Mountain.
Temperatures were moderate compared to recent days, which made the hike much more enjoyable. A small amount of rain fell during the hike but gave us no problems.
After we left the parking area, the group made a short road walk to where the trail starts toward the peak. The trail initially runs through some open woods alongside a grove of evergreens, then begins a series of ups and downs, crossing a few streambeds, which were dry on this hike.
Eventually the trail begins a more or less straight climb up the hill before it emerges onto the seasonal portion of Van Donsel Rd., where we paused for a quick photo. From there, a short hike brought us to the area behind the Greek Peak upper chair lift. Here we paused to check out the apparatus and admire the views cross the valley.
The group continued to the peak, where some berry harvesting took place. A short walk beyond the peak brought us to an overlook area, where the clear skies gave us an excellent view across the valley.
After milling about for a short while (and picking more blackberries and raspberries) we turned around and made our way back down the hill, arriving back at our cars about 15 minutes beyond our normal hike time.
Today’s hike counted as 4.6 FLT miles for those attempting to earn their FLT60 patch.
Saturday August 13
Logan Hill Nature Preserve, Candor
Hike report by Leigh Ann
Fifteen hikers and two hiker dogs met at Candor High School to climb up into Logan Hill Nature Preserve. After a week of fronts and thunderstorms, the sky was so clear that it looked like the far hills were cut out of cardboard. Trees, wildflowers, and grasses were shiny, healthy, and waving in the breeze.
This hike was unusually satisfying today, and it wasn’t just because of the company and the weather. A few weeks from now is when the preserve mows all the fields to keep them fields. So, mid-August is a great time to visit because the wildflowers and tall fields of grass are still uncut, and the well-mowed and wide trail goes through them where it crosses the fields.
The elevation gain on this roughly 4.5-mile hike is front-loaded. From Candor High School to the eastern turn-off to the yellow trail, Water Road/Logan Hill Road ascends to the hilltop through the preserve. The yellow trail is well marked and fairly level. It loops two miles out and back through tall deciduous woods, deep hemlock forest with a rapidly deepening gorge, and fields with ponds and “hills are alive” views. The yellow trail comes out on Logan Hill Road about half a mile to the west of where it went in, and the hike along the road to the initial trailhead is lovely.
Because the road at the top is not good for vehicles with low clearance, it’s unusual to see any vehicles on the one-lane road. We did see one, and the driver let us know he had just seen some coyotes crossing the road.
This hike took just under two hours to do. After hanging out to chat in the High School parking lot, some of the hikers headed to the goat dairy in Candor.
Sunday August 14
Potato Hill State Forest, Caroline
Hike report by Jim
Twenty hikers and four dogs met on Level Green Rd. for a hike of the FLT towards Blackman Hill Rd. and beyond. Trail conditions along this section of the FLT today were the driest I can recall ever seeing in my time with the group. And we benefited from not having to encounter the ground bees that the group has run into during previous summer hikes on this section of trail.
The first quarter of this hike involves a very gradual climb toward Blackman Hill Rd. Along the way we enjoyed the use of two new trail bridges that replaced some older models that were definitely starting to show their age.
Just before Blackman Hill Rd., we stopped to check out the newly built parking area near the trail crossing. I feel that it’s a little small for our larger group hikes, but individual hikers will certainly be able to put the parking lot to good use.
We crossed Blackman Hill Rd. and soon reached the open meadows. Skies were clear, and we could see the far-away peaks that were two or three ridgelines distant.
After a short pause for a group photo, we plunged back into the woods for a gradual decent toward Rt. 79. Here, the forest trees open up a little more than what was prevalent on the Level Green Rd. side of the trail; the trees are somewhat more distant from each other, and the low-lying forest growth doesn’t greatly impede line of sight across the forest as it does in so many other hike locations.
We reached our turnaround location just before the FLT begins a serious descent towards Rt. 79. From there, we made our way back to the open fields and, beyond those, the descent back to Level Green Rd. and our vehicles.
Today’s hike came out to 4.5 FLT miles for those trying to earn their FLT60 patch.