Wednesday April 12
South Hill Rec Way/Six Mile Creek, South Side, Rim Trail
Hike report by Jim
Fourteen hikers and one excited dog met on Crescent Place for a hike of the South Hill Rec Way and the forest trails that run adjacent to it. The day was sunny, warm, and dry, and the first buds of spring were emerging on the trees around us. There was still a reasonable amount of water flowing in the creeks we crossed, but I assume that as the dry conditions persist they will dry up soon enough.
Hikers made a quick stop at the stone stairs that descend to the creek, and then we took a looping trail to the overlook above second dam.
While trying to navigate the narrow, spiny trail beyond second dam, we encountered multiple nests of ground bees on both the initial descent and the climb up the other side. This forced me to drop my plans for the second hour’s route, and so we ended up simply walking the Rec Way back to our cars.
We arrived at our cars with a few minutes to spare, but it was still an enjoyable hike.
Saturday April 15
Loop hike on the eastern branch of Carter Creek, Connecticut Hill, Newfield
On Saturday morning, we received word that there was a major law enforcement incident happening on Trumbulls Corners Road, not far from our hike location. Police were looking for an armed man on an ATV. You can read about the incident here.
Because there was a potentially dangerous person being pursued in the area, the hike was officially canceled.
Nancy L. and Randy went to the starting point to meet anyone who didn’t receive the cancellation notice and showed up for the hike. The suspect was arrested shortly before our scheduled hike time, so those who’d arrived at the meetup point decided to hike.
Hike report by Randy O.
Seven gritty hikers and one well-behaved but overdressed dog hit the trail for a four-mile loop down one side of Carter Creek and up the other.
There were two uneventful stream crossings on a warm and sunny day. The gnats were out in force, and although they did not bite they were a real nuisance. Repellent seemed to work a little.
There’s been an active beaver working at the large pond near where we park the cars. We heard one owl making a lot of noise.
And I think everyone was relieved to hear before they started hiking that the wanted person had been caught.
Sunday April 16
Long Point State Park and Aurora Brewing Co., Aurora
Hike report by Jim
The group lucked out today!
The weather report for the next week is less than promising, with the return of colder temps and several days of rain in the forecast. By the time warm weather is expected to return, the state parks will be close to starting to charge entrance fees again for the summer.
As I drove from Freeville to King Ferry, there was still a morning chill, and the fog was still thick. By the time I turned onto Route 90 in King Ferry, the sun was out and it was looking like the day I’d been hoping for when I scheduled this hike.
By the time I turned onto Lake Rd. and started the descent toward Long Point State Park, the last of the morning fog was burning off the lake in front of me.
Long Point State Park is a bit of an odd duck. It’s close enough to Ithaca to be a destination option, but small enough that it tends to get overlooked by many locals, thanks to the other state park options around Ithaca.
Ultimately, 12 people arrived at Long Point for a hike of the trails there. This was the first time the group has hiked at this park, and I had only prehiked the trails once last fall when I was deciding whether this might be an option for Ithaca Hikers.
We set off into the woods, and soon we were hiking along a nice ravine. It was too shallow to earn the title of “gorge,” but it had some sheer rock faces along the streambed that elevate it to beyond simple “ravine” status.
After a short distance, we turned into the woods for a loop that took us through a nice section of forest trail that borders the park boundary in places. Here we could see spring flowers dotting the forest floor in yellow-hued abundance. The dogwoods are flowering, and while the undergrowth is starting to produce leaves, views of the surrounding forest floor were not so obscured as to feel that you’re walking in a green tunnel.
Last fall, I hiked this trail system right after the leaves had fallen, resulting in a less obvious footpath as there are no blazes, only the occasional trail sign. On today’s hike, the footpath was extremely obvious most of the time, the only exception being the trail sections that traversed some of the open fields and brush-hogged areas.
At the far end of the forest loop, we had the option of circling a large, open field or sticking closer to the edge of the treeline; the group opted for the treeline, as the open field offered no relief to the sun’s glare which by now was unrelentingly hot on exposed skin that had not yet adapted from our long winter months of multilayered dormancy. None of the group burst into flames in the sunlight, so there’s a positive note…..
Some of the next section of trail had been getting brush-hogged last year, and it’s a little depressing to walk across this huge swath of open field that’s really a layer of ground-up brush underfoot. Some hikers speculated that perhaps the state is planning to turn the field into some sort of camping area. I know that when I worked for the state, we tended to brush-hog some of the open fields a couple times each summer just to keep the growth under control. Those areas didn’t get further development until long after I left that job.
Turning south, the trail system again borders the park boundary. In this area the cedars along the trail drew some attention from hikers. Most of the non-natural colors along the trail were a plethora of No Trespassing signs, which made it clear that hikers are not welcome to leave the established footpath.
We reached a service road, which we took back to the ravine, returning via that route back to the parking lot. With some time to spare, we walked to the nearby shoreline and wandered the paved footpaths there, ultimately arriving back at the cars about 10 minutes early.
After the hike, most of the hikers reconvened at the nearby Aurora Brewing Company, which opened its doors a few minutes early as our group pressed our forlorn faces to their doors giving them our best “feed us” faces.
The brewery has an excellent variety of drinks and prepared foods. After we made our food and drink selections, we quickly claimed a picnic table on the outside covered porch area, which has a good view of the lake and the surrounding vineyards.
Thanks to all who came on the Sunday hike, and to those who were able to socialize afterwards!