Report to Hikers April 29-May 5

Wednesday, May 1

Spur trail from upper Lick Brook/Town Line Road to upper Buttermilk Falls SP/Yaple Road

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-two hikers and one dog met on Townline Rd in the Town of Danby for a hike of the Toms Trail Loop in the Thayer Preserve and the orange blazed FLT spur trail in upper Buttermilk Falls State Park. This is hike # 11 on our list of regular hike locations:

Driving to the hike I found the day to be cool, and there was significant fog in lower elevations as I approached the trailhead. Today was opening day of spring turkey season and I nearly hit some turkeys as they crossed Sandbank Rd; maybe they didn’t get the memo that they were the guests of honor this month. By the time hikers started to pull up on Townline Rd the sun was coming out in time for the hike.

After a quick photo the group set off on the orange blazed Toms Trail, climbing the hill to Sandbank Rd before hiking behind the South Hill Cidery and coming out on the utility right of way. Crossing West King Rd the group entered the FLT spur trail, which as expected had a significant amount of standing water and quantities of mud at regular intervals until the trail reached Yaple Rd.

The hikers continued on the spur trail into Buttermilk Falls State Park before turning around. Rather than return through the mud of the spur trail the hikers opted to road walk back to West King Rd , where they re-entered the trail system.

Reaching the junction of the red and blue trail sections of Toms Trail the group took the blue blazed trail, crossing the stream and returning to the trailhead via the blue blazed trails.

A quick happy birthday observation for Nancy L and the group dispersed for the day. Casey reported that the hike totaled 4.9 miles.

Photo by Jim
Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, May 4

Kennedy State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Thirteen hikers met on the seasonal portion of Owego Hill Rd in Cortland County for a loop hike within James Kennedy State Forest. This hike consisted of parts of the Spanish Loop, the FLT and the Ukranian Loop, and is hike # 40-5 on our list of regular hike locations:

The morning was overcast and cool as cars arrived at the trailhead. RSVPs on Meetup had been few; I think that the weather forecast for the day had caused people to be leery of this mornings hike. Or perhaps it was a little too distant for some hikers.

The group set off downhill on the Spanish Loop, which plunges into the woods here after a long-ish road walk section on both Adams and Owego Hill Rd. Hikers paused at the first water crossing for our group photo before continuing on. The footpath follows the stream for a while, weaving in and out of the stream bank before turning to begin a bit of a moderate hill climb. The terrain levels out eventually and the Spanish Loop crosses seasonal road Liddington Hill Rd and a utility pole right-of-way before passing the more easterly end of the Ukranian Loop. Soon afterwards the group reached the end of the Spanish Loop trail where it meets the FLT.

Here we paused briefly for a trail journal entry and as the group moved north on the FLT we soon broke down into ability groups, with a faster group of hikers pulling ahead of the more casually paced subset of hikers. A couple of blow down trees had to be bypassed here, but all in all compared to many recent trails we’ve hiked, the number of uprooted trees blocking the trails was very minimal today.

The FLT reaches Owego Hill Rd again before re-entering the woods on a steady descent. The FLT here winds through some nice sections of woods and follows alongside another stream for a while before passing an access trail to the Swedish Loop. It was in this section that we first noticed an increase in the number of flying insects, so head nets came out. The group forged ahead until we reached the more westerly end of the Ukranian Loop, which is among the newest of the trails within the International Loops in Kennedy Forest.

Turning onto the Ukranian Loop we began a slow gradual climb up the hill that mirrored the descent we had just completed on the FLT. The Ukranian Loop follows yet another stream along much of its route through this section of the forest. There are a few muddy trail sections as a result, but nothing unexpected. Stopping briefly for another trail journal entry, the group resumed our hike and soon found the terrain leveling out. The Ukranian Loop had left the stream as it climbed the hill, but now returned to the bank of the stream and followed that for much of the remainder of its path until we finally returned to Owego Hill Rd.

The hikers road-walked a short distance back to our cars, where the fast group soon emerged from the Spanish Loop Trail, they having made the decision to cross Owego Hill Rd to complete the entirety of the Ukranian Loop and re-trace our earlier route on the Spanish Loop back to the trailhead. Both groups completed their respective hikes about twenty minutes over our normal hike duration.

Photo by Jim
Photo by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, May 5

Shindagin Hollow State Forest, Brooktondale

Hike report by Mary Weiz

Eighteen hikers and two dogs took their chances on the weather in order to be outdoors and in the forest on this Cinco de Mayo morning. During the 5.2 mile duration hikers experienced little rain, a welcomed absence of no-see-um flies, other biting insects, and nearly no mud! Large brimmed sombreros may have had something to do with keeping hikers dry and happy! Temperatures remained in the low fifties and the cloud cover was about 93% for the duration. 

Hikers delighted in more than a few forest treasures on this particular hike. Depending on what one was focused on, or what was brought to our attention, this hike included:  budding mayapples and solomon’s seal and hillside carpets of flowering white trillium with purple and a few anomaly “pinks” interspersed among other wild flowers. For the birder, there was audio evidence of the presence of dark-eyed junco, baltimore oriole, american redstart, rose-breasted grosbeak, northern parula, black-throated green warbler and black and white warbler. Even more, they were treated to visual evidence of sandpipers in the hollow’s bog and ovenbirds in the canopy. Of course, the balsam fir grove still stands although it appears challenged to these eyes (perhaps in part due to their notoriously shallow roots and our wet, windy spring), nonetheless an olfactory pleasure! 

Arriving in just over two hours, only two hikes chose to walk the rim northward back to the autos. Other hikers chose the wonder of the exceptionally pleasant forest road arriving only minutes sooner than the rim walkers. The trillium grandiflorum will remain in bloom for another few weeks according to the US Dept of Agriculture, U.S. Forest service web info. If you have the chance to see them, you’ll be glad of it!

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.