Wednesday April 5
On this Wednesday, we had two hike options: our regular hike, led by Jim at and around Mulholland Wildflower Preserve, and a longer alternative hike of the FLT through lower Treman, led by Casey.
Mulholland Wildflower Preserve, Ithaca
Hike report by Jim
Ten hikers met in the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve on Giles Street in Ithaca for a hike of the trails to the Second Dam overlook, as well as some other trails in the area.
Our group’s cars filled the small parking lot, and only a few other people shared the trails with us on this midweek morning. Although foul weather was predicted for the afternoon, we enjoyed clear skies during our hike.
We followed the lower trails as they wound across the forest floor, pausing occasionally to take photos of the cascades or the small waterfalls flowing down the cliff faces.
Eventually, the trail turns and starts climbing the hillside toward the Second Dam access road, which provides a wide hiking trail as far as that dam.
Before reaching that road, however, I opted to take the narrow blue-blazed footpath that goes along the hillside far above the water before arriving at an observation point directly above second dam. There, we rejoined the access road as far as the overlook before turning around and retracing our steps back to the parking area.
After we’d arrived at the parking area, we opted to cross Giles Street and walk to the opposite side of the bridge, where we entered the trail system for Wells Falls.
Several hikers took the higher, blue-blazed trail that climbs the hillside before coming out at an observation area directly above the falls. This trail concludes its short loop by returning to Giles Street by the bridge. From there, we took the lower part of the blue-blazed trail to the base of Wells Falls.
Back at Giles Street, we realized we still had around 15 minutes of hike time remaining. Some hikers chose to use up that time doing a sidewalk hike of Giles Street toward Hudson Street, while others decided to end their hike a few minutes early.
FLT through lower Treman to Butternut Creek Rd.
Hike report and photo by Joe
Two showed up for the alternative Wednesday hike, an out-and-back of the FLT from lower Treman to Butternut Creek Rd. It was a little overcast, but a perfect temp for a jacketless journey.
Saturday April 8
Hoxie Gorge, Cortland County
Hike report by Jim
Fourteen hikers met on Hoxie Gorge Road in Cortland County for a hike of the FLT through part of Hoxie Gorge State Forest. The day was sunny with a spectacular blue sky, and the sunlight streaming through the trees mottled the forest floor. Temperatures were cool, and light breezes made the hike very enjoyable.
From the parking area for the McDermott Nature Trail, we walked a short way to the blue-blazed trail. This trail, formerly a section of the FLT footpath, is now downgraded to an access trail to the current FLT.
This beginning section of the trail, including the McDermott Nature Trail, is part of the Hoxie Gorge Nature Preserve maintained by SUNY Cortland for educational purposes.
I’ve previously found this blue-blazed section of trail to be enjoyable as it weaves its way through the forest, sometimes passing close to the flowing stream before climbing back up the hillside, where it shares some trail distance with the McDermott Nature Trail.
Today we found the access trail suffering from some severe footpath damage from blowdowns and running water that will require trail repairs or some major rerouting in the future. Multiple blowdowns along the FLT required sidestepping trees or attempts at the limbo as we slithered under tree trunks.
The last couple of times we’ve done this hike, we’ve taken the FLT toward Hoxie Gorge Freetown Rd. My thinking was that this section of trail, as it passes through lowlands and crosses several waterways, was likely to be a wet, muddy, miserable slog. So I opted to take the group in the other direction, toward the Hoxie Gorge lean-to and Underwood Hill beyond it. In this direction, the FLT stays on some higher ground, which today proved to be mostly mud-free, although we did encounter small patches of mud here and there.
There were a couple of water crossings along the way, but the volume of water in the creek was not so much that it made those crossings hazardous.
For the most part, the footpath on this section of the FLT is enjoyable, although as Joe said at one point the trail still requires careful attention as it winds its way up and down the hillsides and across some rooty sections.
Eventually we reached the Hoxie Gorge lean-to, which is situated on a nice hillside near the streambed. From the lack of journal entries and a significant amount of untouched downed wood around the structure (which would’ve long since been burned at a more frequented lean-to), I have to assume that this lean-to doesn’t see many visitors.
After writing a brief trail journal entry, I saw that we had some time left on our outbound leg. The group agreed to hike a few additional minutes toward Underwood Hill, on my promise of a good view from a field in that location.
We did reach the edge of the field, although time didn’t allow us to continue to the crest of the hill, where there’s an excellent view of the valley and where the property owner has placed a picnic table for hikers to use. There is a small parking area on Underwood Rd, and I’m thinking that at some point in the future it would be worthwhile to start a hike from that location so that the views and the rest of today’s hike can be enjoyed in the opposite direction…
After pausing to admire the field,we turned around and retraced our steps until we reached the McDermott Nature Trail. That yellow-blazed trail offers a more direct route back to our cars. Ultimately, we did run over on our time by a few minutes, but everyone seems to have enjoyed the hike.
Based on the FLT map mileage, today’s hike was 4.4 FLT miles, for those working to get their FLT50 patch this year.
Sunday April 9
Connecticut Hill, Newfield
Hike report by Nancy L.
Twenty-four hikers and two dogs gathered at the corner of Carter Creek and Rowell Hill Roads on a sunny, crisp spring morning. Hikers were offered two hikes: a road walk along Carter Creek Road and another hike that included a trail walk to the east of Lloyd Stark Road. Due to some confusion about the routes, most hikers turned onto Lloyd Stark Road and eventually followed Randy and me into the woods to explore the plateau at the top of Rowell Hill.
The initial walk up Lloyd Stark was quite steep for a climb of nearly 500 feet, but the trail on Rowell Hill was quite gentle. We took note of a small pond on the trail where some egg masses were spotted. There wasn’t much vegetation, but this allowed the sunlight to penetrate the woods. Occasionally, we also had views of the surrounding hills and fields. Rock walls and evidence of a small foundation could be seen. At the end of the hike, some hikers were able to visit with a horse and rider.
A smaller group hiked out and back on Carter Hill Road.
Welcome to canine hiker Challa!