Tuesday December 27
Extra Hike: Shady Corners to Lick Brook Falls and Beyond
A hiker from Connecticut contacted Ithaca Hikers through our Meetup page the week before Christmas to let us know she would be passing through our area and was interested in seeing frozen waterfalls. Maya joined us on our Wednesday hike (see below), but several hikers were able to hike with her on Tuesday, as well. Hike report by Jim.
Six hikers met at the FLLT Shady Corners parking lot for a winter weekday hike of the Tapan Mitra, Sweedler ,and Thayer nature preserves. This was during a two-week window in which hunting ceases on preserve property, so it was a welcome opportunity to see the preserves in winter conditions since our last hike there two months ago.
We set off, passing through the Tapan Mitra property before crossing the ice-encrusted railroad trestle and entering Cornell nature preserve property. Upon reaching the first stream crossing, we had the first hint that today’s hike was going to be unusual. The stream was full of frozen snow and ice that gave the appearance of half-churned butter frozen in a state of suspended animation.
We crossed the stream and soon arrived at Lick Brook falls. The falls were entirely frozen, with only the barest hint of water still flowing down the stream bed; we could tell some water was still moving both by sound and by glimpses of flowing water in occasional breaks in the ice cover. We stayed at the falls for a long time, taking pictures and conversing with a group of European hikers who arrived at the falls after we did.
We continued on our way, climbing the blue-blazed switchback trail as it traversed the hillside. Every time the trail came close to the gorge we had to stop, take more pictures, and exclaim over the frozen, multi-hued stream bed.
We soon arrived at Townline Road, where the group split up, some of us having previous commitments that required a quick retreat back down the hillside.
Those who stayed crossed Townline Road and took the orange- and blue-blazed Tom’s Trail. Here, too, the stream was entirely encased in ice. We soon completed the loop, and our second crossing of the frozen stream was no less interesting than the first.
We reached Townline Road and started downhill, diverting from our previous route by taking the white-blazed FLT, which snaked down the hillside and ran alongside another streambed, also frozen.
It was here that we had our only real issues during the hike; the trail surface, as it descended along the narrow spine, was much icier than the footpath had been in other places. This forced us to stay to the very edge of the spine, carefully picking our way through the fallen leaves along the trail’s edge despite our foot traction and poles. The snow and ice surface in the center of the trail gave mute testimony to the travails of earlier hikers: long skid marks left by footwear without any traction.
At the valley floor we made quick work of hiking back to the trestle, crossing over that and arriving at our cars with a total hike time of about 2.5 hours–not as bad as I had expected given our slower-than-normal pace.
Welcome to Maya on her first hike with the group!
Wednesday December 28
Woodard Road east into upper Robert Treman SP, Enfield
Hike report by Jim
Fifteen hikers met on Woodard Road for a hike of the FLT into Robert Treman State Park. The weather was good, with minimal wind and decent footing on the route.
We left our cars and made a quick descent along the FLT, crossing Fishkill Creek via the wooden footbridge. We then walked the seasonal portion of Butternut Creek Road to Van Ostrand Road. This route doesn’t directly follow the route of the FLT, but it makes for a nice winter walk.
We walked Van Ostrand Road to Thomas Road. From there, we returned to the seasonal part of Butternut Creek Road, where we again picked up the FLT and followed it into upper Robert Treman SP.
When we reached the Rim Trail, we took it downhill to the Lucifer Falls overlook. This waterfall was not as ice-encased as Lick Brook had been the previous day, but it was still cold enough that only the center portion of the falls had thawed, so we could see the torrent of water flowing there.
After stopping at the overlook for a few minutes, we turned around and took the Rim Trail into the parking lot of upper Treman. We stopped to admire the frozen cascades directly behind the Old Mill before moving on to the CCC trail.
The CCC trail was enjoyable, as the stream it runs along was still mostly frozen and footing on the trail was not a problem.
We arrived back at our cars with a few minutes to spare, but I don’t think that anyone was complaining about needing a longer hike after completing the route we’d followed.
Sunday December 31
Lindsay Parsons Preserve, West Danby
Hike report by Jim
For our last hike of 2022, 16 hikers met in the parking lot of the Lindsay Parsons Preserve in West Danby. Temperatures were pleasant and unseasonably warm, leaving little in the way of snowpack.
The popularity of the preserve with other hikers before us meant that many of the trails were still a bed of slick ice. This was really only an issue on the inclined trail sections, and usually there was enough of a bare shoulder along the edge that the group was able to safely navigate those sections of trail. Any snow still on the ground was that sort of slushy, half-melted snow that provides little in the way of traction when going uphill but on the downhill loves to unexpectedly deliver you to the bottom of the hill!
At the hike’s beginning, we split up into two subgroups; Casey and Joe made a beeline to the bottom of the Pinnacles to bushwhack up the hillside to the top of the hill.
The rest of us completed a more leisurely loop of the red-, blue-, yellow-, and orange-blazed trails.
Welcome to Stacey on her first hike with the group!
Four miles out to the Pinnacles and back. Two hours five minutes.
Sunday January 1
Mundy Wildflower Gardens to Beebe Lake Loop, Ithaca
Hike report by Jim
Twenty-one hikers and four dogs met at Mundy Wildflower Gardens for a First Day Hike loop of Beebe Lake, the Forest Home neighborhood, and the Cornell Arboretum. It was unseasonably warm, with temperatures somewhere in the 50s, and sunny, all of which made for a pleasant hike.
We set off from the Mundy Wildflower parking lot. Our loop of the garden’s trails was quick, in part because of trail closures due to fallen trees.
We paused briefly for a group photo before leaving the wildflower gardens to cross Judd Falls Road. We did another quick loop, this time near the Nevin Welcome Center.
We crossed Forest Home Drive and walked over Sackett Bridge. A quick detour into Hemlock Gorge showed us that there was a vast amount of water flowing through Fall Creek due to recent snowmelt and rain. The noise from the water flowing over the cascades was literally thunderous to my ears.
We returned to the Beebe Lake trail and soon completed the first half of the trail loop, passing by the Tang Welcome Center at the Triphammer Falls bridge. The fine, misty spray here from the water flowing over the short dam near the welcome center was cold and bracing.
Turning east, we began to complete the circuit around Beebe Lake — in the process, we missed a trail closure sign. When we got back to the eastern end of Beebe Lake, we found the path blocked by cyclone fencing and the lower wooden steps back to Forest Home Drive entirely removed. So we had to do a bit of bushwhacking to get back on the trail.
We passed through the hamlet of Forest Home. By the time we arrived back at the intersection of Forest Home and Caldwell roads, only an hour had passed, so we entered the Arboretum and completed a lap around the major loop there. We made a short stop so that several hikers could hit the gong to ring in the new year and take pictures of the vista spread out below us.
Completing the Arboretum loop brought us back to Caldwell Road and our cars at exactly the two-hour mark.
A warm welcome to Iona and her canine companion, Fontana; Courtney and her canine companion, Laika; Chris; and Sanae on their first hike with the group!