Wednesday October 18
Watkins Glen State Park
Hike report by Nancy L.
Seventeen hikers met where the Finger Lakes Trail crosses Whites Hollow Road and there is a blocked access road to the park, called Punch Bowl Road. The FLT follows Punch Bowl Road a short distance and then cuts off toward a feeder creek to Watkins Glen gorge.
A short distance along the trail, we came to a nice pond, probably the Punch Bowl. In that spot is a large, enticing, but seemingly unused, pavilion. From there we followed the Finger Lakes Trail along the creek. Shortly beyond the pavilion, there is a tall sheer dam with a waterfall.
A bit later, the trail joins up with an old dirt road that proceeds gradually downhill. It passes under a very tall and impressive railroad bridge.
From there, we proceeded more steeply downhill until we reached a stairway down to a bridge over the Watkins Glen Gorge to the Gorge Trail. There was time to explore a long stretch of the gorge and its dramatic geology.
On the way back, we were able to return to the cars more quickly by taking the roadlike portion of the FLT and then staying on various parts of the Punch Bowl Road until we were back at our starting point.
Saturday October 21
Shindagin Hollow State Forest, Brooktondale
No report was submitted for this hike.
Sunday October 22
Kennedy State Forest
Hike report by Jim
This was the first time the Ithaca Hikers have taken this particular route in Kennedy State Forest, so prior to Sunday morning there was no number assigned to this hike on our hikes list. Since getting home I’ve added it to our hikes page as hike #40-5.
Fourteen hikers and a dog met on the seasonal portion of Owego Hill Road in Kennedy State Forest, for a loop hike on a very rainy and windy day. I warned the group ahead of the hike that, based on my prehike of the route on Saturday afternoon, I expected the hike to run over our normal two-hour duration by about 15 minutes.
Starting from where the Spanish Loop turns back into the woods after a long road walk section, the group travelled downhill, making a stream crossing and following the stream for a while before starting a fairly prolonged uphill section. After that initial climb, the path mostly levels off as it winds through a mix of hardwoods and pines. The Spanish Loop crosses a utility right-of-way and an old logging road or two, which breaks you out of the woods and gives a brief view of the sky and surrounding area.
On today’s hike, we passed by a couple of springs and bivouac sites at various points, indicated by signage placed by trail creator/ maintainers Alex and Michelle Gonzalez. The trail displays some of the attention to detail that Alex and Michelle are known for, such as short stone walls lining the trails or chairs situated at critical points so that solitary hikers can pause to rest or enjoy the views in their journey through the woods.
The Spanish Loop weaves its way through some nice sections of forest and passes by the end of the new Ukraine Loop. Continuing to the FLT, we turned west, crossing over Owego Hill Road again and continuing on the FLT for a fairly long descent.
Here, the FLT again loops through some nice sections of woods as it follows a stream, and crosses one or two intersecting trails that lead to other parts of Kennedy forest. Despite the persistent and fluctuating volume of rain, hikers at various times noted the silence we were experiencing in the woods (other than the hum of conversation in the line of hikers).
We reached the other end of the Ukraine Loop, which is a 1.1 mile mix of uphill and switchbacks and more woodsy walks through the forest along streams and through logging roads. The group took the Ukraine Loop back to Owego Hill Road. This put us within a 10-15 minute road walk back to our cars and the end of the hike.
Overall, trail conditions were muddier than I had observed on my prehike of the route Saturday afternoon. The steady rain had transformed a few short sections of trail into flowing streams. At various points along the route, the footpath was awash with a variety of colors from the leaves covering the ground. The route is well blazed.
Despite my early pessimism about going over our usual two-hour hike time, the lead hikers arrived back at their cars at exactly the two-hour mark.
We had the trails to ourselves today; we encoutnered no other hikers along the way.
Thanks to all who showed up for the hike despite the weather! I expect to bring the group back to this hike in the future when better weather conditions prevail.