Report to Hikers — week of Jan 10 — Jan 16

Hello Hikers!

Wed Jan 12

Hike report by Jim

FLT starting at Connecticut Hill Road, CHWMA

Four hikers met on Connecticut Hill Rd for a hike of the FLT

An additional two hikers met us on the trail.

Two MORE hikers were unable to arrive at the trailhead in time but did their own roadwalk on Connecticut Hill Rd.

There was a minimal amount of snow cover on the trail today. The bigger problem for hikers was that the trail had recently obviously been quite muddy, and with  temperature drops over the past several days  had frozen into a solidified uneven mass that was not always enjoyable to walk across. Only an occasional animal or two had walked the footpath recently, so our group found itself having to “break trail” across the uneven snow surface as we progressed along the trail.

Despite the single digit temperatures of the previous day, the hike day temperatures were in the more manageable 20s ( F ). The sun was hidden behind clouds for the most part, but it was still a clear, well-lit day to enjoy the sights and sounds around the group.

The initial descent from Connecticut Hill Rd was uneventful. The first stream crossings were a careful affair, with hikers unsure of the ice would hold our weight. Once across the streams we found ourselves laboring up the slope on the opposite side, a section of trail that seemed to go straight up for a very long time. This particular section of trail also has a significant amount of exposed root network which requires careful navigation over and around.

Eventually we found ourselves on level ground and walking a section of the trail that cuts through large stands of Evergreens.

Reaching Boylan Rd the trail jogs slightly to the Southwest before again leaving the road and plunging into the meadows and woods on the opposite side of the road.

The group travelled through  section of woods that in its winter dormancy was less interesting than I recall the same section being during its full summer bloom. At exactly the hour mark we found ourselves entering a small meadow. Knowing that recently clear-cut sections of forest lay shortly ahead, I turned the group around so as to not repeat our recent Yellow Barn State Forest experience with recently harvested woodlots.

The return trip to our cars was uneventful; the now-downhill sections of trail being greatly appreciated by all.

Special auxiliary hike report by Leigh Ann

Hi Jim.  Claire and I had quite an enjoyable adventure Wednesday, once we let you know that we’d missed the meet-up point. We stopped and had a discussion on Connecticut Hill Rd. south of Connecticut Hill Cemetery and just south of where another Connecticut Hill Road heads off to the west. These are all seasonal roads. We figured that we were so far away from the rest of the group that we’d do our own hike. Once we called and let you know about that, we headed south on Connecticut Hill Road because we knew that it would eventually come out at 13. This was also because the hill just behind us was too steep for our cars to get back to the cemetery. The bottom of Connecticut Hill right before it gets to open fields and Rt. 13 seems about 22 degrees steep with deep culverts on either side, and it was very exciting to creep down at 4-5 mph.

After a big laugh parked by the side of Connecticut Hill Rd. in the nice, safe field before it got to 13, we agreed to head south toward Ithaca. We chose to pull off at Fisher Old Growth Preserve and did a vaguely swimmer-shaped hike that included legs and arms of the red trail (with the steepest part of the loop cut off) and the whole blue/red loop near the top of the hill. That took about an hour, and we ended our adventure at 11:15.
Best wishes,Leigh Ann

Photos by Nancy L


Sat Jan 15

Jim cancelled the scheduled hike because of cold and wind — but then ….

Special small-group hike report by Nancy L — the Ithaca Huikers find a missing child!

Barb, Cian and I gathered  where the South Rec Way ends on Burns Rd.  The weather was frigid and it was hard to take our hands out of our mittens for pics.  We had the goal of approaching Powell Falls from a side trail off the Rec Way.  Trails to the reservoir show on the Gaia map.  When we got to a spot where several trails intersected, we encountered a couple looking for their 7 year old daughter who had run ahead.  We exchanged names and he tried calling my number though I never did receive the call perhaps a number was incorrect.  Barb and I had explored these trails recently so we headed for the trail we hadn’t tried before which indeed was taking us to the reservoir.  Luckily Barb remembered the names of the girl and her dog who were both lost so we  started calling them.   At a certain point we almost turned back because of the no trespassing signs protecting the reservoir.  I reasoned that no one would care and went ahead as much to see the reservoir as in the hope that the girl would be out there.  Sure enough we began to hear the girl  calling and the dog was barking too .  At first she didn’t want to come with us and said she would get back on her own.  But we said we had met her parents so she came.  She was quite upset at first and tripped after which she said her knee hurt a lot.  But her hobble soon resolved.  At first the dog kept vigil but as we got back closer to where the parents had been the dog ran ahead and I was relieved to think the dog must have found them.  Sure enough we soon encountered them .  By this time a large number of emergency responders had arrived.  I am so relieved that we all escaped from the cold woods unharmed Here are photos from Nancy and Cian 

You can see the complete photo album here


Sun Jan 17

Hike report by Jim

Jim Schug Trail, Dryden

15 hikers and 1 dog met on Lake Rd in the Town of Dryden , for a hike of the Jim Schug Trail.

I had re-scheduled this days hike to the Schug Trail from a more rural location because of the extended forecast that had predicted snow throughout Saturday evening and early Sunday morning. The snow had not arrived as predicted, but the cold didn’t let us forget that we are now truly into winter months.

Ambient temperatures were definitely on the low side at the start of the hike. A cold wind blowing at the start of the hike had hikers thoroughly wrapped up in balaclavas, gloves and layers of other winter wear at a barrier against the cold. As the hike progressed the wind lessened, and peoples gradually shed layers.

The walking surface of the trail was extremely icy due to the heavy use the trail is getting, making some form of foot traction a necessity and trekking poles a welcome accessory.

Despite the cool temps there were a number of other people sharing the trail with us on this day.

The group moved down the trail at a good pace, by-passing the usual side-trip to Dryden Lake in favor of continuing directly onwards towards Dryden Village.

The sun was out, and the sky was clear. This resulted in some wonderful views across the various frozen water surfaces, with the trees reflecting off the surface of the ice and the sun gleaming through the various stands of dormant undergrowth along the trail.

The group made it all the way to Dryden Village before turning around and re-tracing our steps back to our cars. Arriving back at our cars we found the wind was now resumed, making our retreat into our respective cars for the journey home a welcome end to the days hike.

A warm welcome to Souma, Sanchita and Khoi on their first hike with the group!

Report to Hikers — week of Jan 3 — Jan 9

Hello Hikers!

Wed Jan 5

Hike report by Jim

Bock Harvey Forest Preserve, Enfield

8 hikers and 2 dogs met in Enfield for a seasonably cool hike of the Bock-Harvey Preserve

The group only saw sunshine for around ten minutes of the hike, but it was still a beautiful morning to be in the woods.

Cayuga Trails sawyers were in the Preserve taking care of some blowdowns across trails; thanks to those persons for volunteering their time to make our hikes as good as they are!

There was a thin coat of snow on the ground, and in places the mud was not entirely frozen but of a firmer consistency where our feet were not being sucked down into a liquid quagmire.

Hikers made a quick ascent to the shelter from the parking area. From there it was a short walk to the FLT. The group made its way to Porter Hill Rd where we crossed into the Reiman Woods. We made a circuit of the trail there, returning to Porter Hill Rd without incident.

Returning to Bock-Harvey Preserve property we took the FLT Easterly to Rockwell Rd.

Dave Bock was with the group today and, as always when he is on a hike of the Preserve, his intimate knowledge of the property and its history made for an interesting hike.

Turning around at Rockwell Rd the group re-traced its steps to the yellow blazed trail and from there back to the parking lot.

Warm welcome to Jane and her canine companion Becca, on their first hike with the group!

Dave B photo


Sat Jan 7

Hike report by Nancy L

Texas Hollow SF, Schuyler County

12 people and 1 dog gathered at the finger lakes trail parking on Texas Hollow Road on a bright and sunny but chilly day for a hike heading east towards the ponds of Texas Hollow.  Our first stop was for a view of the large frozen and snow covered pond on the South side of the main trail.  Shortly after we turned onto the blue marked loop which is a pleasant hike  around  a smaller pond with several view points.   Trails were frozen but rarely slippery and so we didn’t need to avoid as many muddy spots.  After taking the blue loop we rejoined the main FLT continuing to head southeast.   Initially there are only slight ups and downs.  At one point we checked out an abandoned coyote den.   The trail started to go gradually and then steeply uphill.  Some groups of hikers made higher forays up the hillside than others.  On the way back we did the blue loop in the opposite direction to round out the two hours.  

Leigh Ann photo
Leigh Ann photo
Leigh Ann photo
Leigh Ann photo
Nancy L photo


Photos by Cian

You can see Cian’s complete photo album here


Sun Jan 8

Hike report by Jim

Monkey Run Natural Area, north side of Fall Creek

Nine hikers met for a hike of the Monkey Run trails near Hanshaw Rd

The previous night had seen icy rain fall across the Tompkins County area; by Sunday morning in the hours before the hike roads and cars were sheathed in a layer of ice.

Hikers set off on the red blazed trail system, but after the initial descent into the area along the stream and then the stairs climbing to the first set of bluffs it was decided that trail conditions were too hazardous to continue to hike the trail system. Instead, hikers followed the flat walking paths along the edges of the fields beyond the Cornell pavilion. Despite the winds whipping across the open fields, this was the safer alternative given trail conditions. Other than some frozen potholes of water found along the way and some minor ditch crossings these proved to be much safer than the trails within the forested areas.

Hikers continued along the fields until we reached the orange-blazed trails. These proved to be a safer, flatter hiking surface that gave hikers a good view of the creek flowing below the bluffs.

Hikers eventually turned around, and in the interest of saving time cut directly across the fields to reach the red blazed pavilion service road leading back to our cars.

Photo by Jim


Photos by Leigh Ann

You can see an album of Leigh Ann’s and Nancy L’s photos from Saturday and Sunday here. The photos are marked by photographer.

Report to Hikers — week of Dec 27 — Jan 2

Hello Hikers!

The special pleasure of hiking our trails when you’ve grown up here

“With Ithaca being my hometown, I have decades of memories of everywhere I go around here”

By Jim

Norm and I exchanged a few emails about the Cayuga Nature Center after our recent hike there. A couple of our longer term hikers indicated on the day of the hike that it was their first visit there. That actually surprised me, just as the comments from some hikers in the past that they lived in Ithaca for 20+ years before they even thought to set foot on a local trail. After all, as I sometimes pointed out, we have people visit Ithaca who spend hundreds or thousands to come here and enjoy what we have around us in the natural world on a daily basis.

Norm sent me the photo of the historical marker that’s on the grounds of the Nature Center and indicated that he was unfamiliar with the term “preventorium” as used on the sign. Here is a link from their website to some of the history of the Nature Center:

History — Cayuga Nature Center

Norm asked that I forward the Wiki link below in case people might be interested:

Cayuga Nature Center – Wikipedia

The day of the hike I mentioned ( I think it was to Leah ) that I’d attended programs there as a kid, at which time it was still the Cayuga Preventorium and only open for programs during the summer months. I still have fond memories of the Preventorium grounds, of the groups of kids trekking through the woods, gathering around ponds on the Preventorium grounds ( that I have not been able to re-locate on more recent visits as an adult ) to learn about bugs and trees and all sorts of natural minutiae that seemed *cool* to a kid of that age.

During my recent downtown walk with the CTC hikers I mentioned to Gary Mallow that with Ithaca being my hometown, I have decades of memories of everywhere I go around here. That hike we walked down Linn St, which is where my dad grew up. After that hike and the later Christmas Day hike with Ithaca Hikers, I stopped in to see my dad and mentioned I’d been in his old neighborhood, and he shared the trivia tidbit that his house was the last house in the city of Ithaca by the 1950s that was still being heated exclusively by coal. We argued whether or not his old neighborhood has improved since the 1950s; I think it looks much better than decades ago, while he thinks that it hasn’t changed a bit…..

I had the same experience with Nancy H on our Hallows Eve walk downtown that was led by the History Center.

Ithaca has been a great place to grow up. I continue to get what seem to be surprised responses from hikers both new and old  when they find out I grew up here. I know that there aren’t many of us that you transplants probably run into on a regular basis. A lot of my peers rushed to leave town after graduation; some trickled back in as adults when they recognized that it would still be a good place to raise their own young families. The ones who stayed tend to be a cliquish group in their personal lives and who they associate with…

As a kid growing up in Ithaca exploring all it had to offer, I thought that everyone had a gorge in their backyard and that every town had a Collegetown. Stephen Hesse has said more than once that he thought it was a great way to grow up, to have a summer job working at the two local Treman State Parks ( it wasn’t bad, in my mind at the time; somehow those stairs on RH Treman’s Gorge Trail have gotten harder since I raced up them as  a teen and young 20-something loaded down with tools ).

Not entirely certain where I’m going with this, so I’ll end it here. Just a little bit of personal and local history, since we have just a few native residents in our hiking group, and some newer hikers who can measure their time in Ithaca in literally a handful of weeks. Enjoy what it has to offer while you are here. I sometimes forget that not everyone in the group sees or remembers Ithaca the same way I do.

Hope to see all of you on the trail again, sooner or later.


Wed Dec 29

Hike report and photo by Jim

Woodchuck Hollow Lean-to on the FLT, Cortland County

8 hikers and 2 dogs met on Carson Rd in Cortland County for a lollipop  hike of the FLT to Woodchuck Hollow Lean-To.

Fresh snow had fallen overnight, so there was a clean white  blanket of snow on the footpath, as well as a layer of snow highlighting the tree branches ( making for a nice visual effect ).

Periodically throughout the hike there were stretches of the trail in which we found our selves hiking through fog which cut visibility to near distances only.’ Very atmospheric, as we commented to each other along the way.

The initial climb up the hill from Carson Rd warmed us quickly. We crested the first ridgeline and hiked down the other side, approaching the first of several water crossings. The streams were well supplied, filling the forest around us with the chatter of flowing streams as it found its way to lower ground.

The FLT wanders through the forest here, rarely taking a straight approach in its travels through the tall stands of pine trees.

Finally arriving at the lean to we paused for a quick group photo and reviewed the map for the next leg of the hike. Passing the shelter we returned to the FLT, and shortly afterwards jumped onto a blue blazed trail that provided a shortcut back in the direction we had come from.

By now the temperatures were rising just enough that the forest was alive with the newer sounds of snow falling from the branches to the forest floor below.

Returning to the FLT we made our way back to Carson Rd and our cars.

This hike took about 45 minutes longer than normal, an issue that I don’t recall when we hiked this route last summer. I attribute the overage somewhat to this being a winter hike that slowed us down a little. I will be sure to plan accordingly the next time we visit this area.

A warm welcome to Kate and her canine hiking companion Cocoa on their first hike with the group!


Sat Jan 1

Hike report and four photos by Jim

Yellow Barn SF, Dryden

Happy New Years to all!

This was an unusual hike.

While it was January 1st, it was an unseasonably warm mid-40s during the hike

I advised the group at the outset that the lollipop loop portion of the ski trail was expected to exceed the usual hike time by an extra fifteen minutes, and that anyone needing a strict two hour hike duration would need to turn around early.

Cars were still pulling in as we set off, so to my best count we had thirty hikers and 8 dogs.

A general reminder to all, we start on time and wait for no one. On many hikes this is not an issue, as out and back hikes will at some point pick up stragglers. This was not a good hike to be late on.

The seasonal portion of Signal Tower Road was muddy and had the usual pools of water, especially given recent rains and snow melt. The footpath as always was a bit adventuresome and hikers sometimes had to pick their footing carefully while skirting the pools of water lest they find themselves involuntarily partially immersed in said pools, as I found myself at one point.

Eventually hikers turn from Signal Tower Road onto the service path ( I can’t call it a road ) that leads to the equestrian fields. I waited here for the elongated line of hikers to draw closer to the turn, at which time we proceeded forward. The fields were in fine shape, though it was clear they were in their winter dormancy period.

Reaching the far end of the second field the group again paused and I was advised that a small group of hikers towards the end of the conga hiking line had not made the turn onto the service path. More on that later.

Setting off on the ski trails, it was a scene of unending devastation. Since our last hike in the area, DEC has clear-cut almost all of the trees on the inner side of the loop, and used the trail itself as a thoroughfare to drag the trees. The footpath was a mix of roots and churned up mess. It was  slow slog. We paused briefly when the time-constrained people had to turn around. The main body continued on.

Eventually the main group of hikers returned to the entry point onto the horse fields. While waiting for the end of the hiking line to arrive one of our group read off a near-by notice on a tree that advised hikers to NOT hike the ski trail until late 2022. Too late for todays hike! No worries for future hikes, either; we wont hike it ever again in its current deforested condition.

The main body set off across the horse fields and returned to our cars without incident. I was advised that the last group that hadn’t made the turn on to the fields on the outbound leg of the trip had chosen to hike their own hike and continue down the seasonal portion of Signal Tower Rd.

The bigger problem at that point was that we still had several hikers in the woods, in telephone contact with us, but who were unable to verify their location on the trail. Nancy L and myself drove the area until the hikers and their dogs were located on Irish settlement Rd near the Park Preserve. Hiker Ruth, as it turned out, had had a complete shoe failure on the trail and had had to hold the shoe together with strips of the blue surveyors marking tape that was in abundance along the ski trail ( see photo ).

New K9 hiker “Sage” joined the group today for its first hike

As a general note to hikers, as much as we enjoy Cians contribution to documenting hikes through his photos, I am looking for additional photographers who like to photograph hikes. We used to have several people such as Jack and Annie who shared their photos, in addition to Susan and Stephen. It is difficult for me at the front of the group to capture any serious number of decent hike photos. I am asking anyone who has been taking pictures on hikes to consider sharing those with the readers of the hike reports by sending their pictures to Stephen and whoever eventually takes over editorship of the weekly hike report.

Damaged shoes repaired with surveyor’s tape


Photos by Cian

Check out Cian’s complete album here


Photos by Randy/Nancy L



Sun Jan 2

Hike report by Jim

Comfort Road, Danby

12 hikers and 2 dogs met on Comfort Rd in Danby  for a hike of the FLT Northwesterly towards  Bruce Hill Rd.

The hike started with a cold wind whipping across the fields near the junction of Comfort and Lieb Rds.

I knew from previous experience and from checking out the beginning of the trail prior to the hike that the first section of trail would be extremely muddy. Stephen has in the past told me that the mud was a major reason why this section of trail was removed from the regular hike rotation. Last summer there were a couple of really muddy sections, but overall the trail was not bad. Today we were not quite so lucky.

The group set off and got through the first muddy portion. The footpath was covered pretty uniformally with a wet mass of leaves. The real risks on the hike were the wet stones, the wet fallen trees starting to freeze into an encapsulating sheath of ice, and the slippery mud, particularly on the downhill portions approaching stream crossings. The streams were, almost universally, all flowing quite well

There were some nicer sections of trail, particularly those trail moments where I found myself passing through sections of evergreens and the forest floor underneath was thick with a layer of needles. Some of the portions where the overhead canopy opened up and we found ourselves entering something close to a small meadow were also enjoyable.

Overall there was much more mud than I recalled from last summer, when it must have been much drier when we hiked this section of trail.

At about the hour mark, before reaching the first large open meadows and one stream crossing that I recall as being particularly troublesome, the group turned around. The snow began to fall around us in a granulated form that soon had a decent thin layer of white coating the forest floor.

The group arrived back at our cars a few minutes early, but no one was complaining.

The muddy areas could be addressed through some thoughtful trail re-routes or even laying down a decent courderoy log surface to cross the worst of the muddy sections on. I recall from looking at Nancy L’s Gaia app last year that the trail appears to have been laid down primarily by exactly following a trail contour on the map, as it looked to be a perfect overlay.

While the section of trail is appealing under the right conditions, I think that in the future I will limit us to hiking this only in the driest or most frozen of winter months.

Thanks to all who came out today to keep me company on this hike!

Photos by Cian

Complete album here

Report to Hikers — week of Dec 20 — Dec 26

Hello Hikers!

Wed Dec 22

Hike report and three photos by Jim

Cayuga Nature Center, town of Ulysses

15 hikers met in the upper loop parking area of the Cayuga Nature Center on Houghton Rd, for a hike of the trail system there.

As the hikers arrived at the parking area, the visibility of the hills in the far distance was already dropping as a weather front moved in. Snow started to fall in a small but increasing quantity; by the time the hike started the wind was brisk and cold, encouraging the hikers to get underway.

Hikers walked the graveled path across the open meadows that connected the parking area to the rest of the nature center. We paused briefly to look at some of the animals in the enclosures behind the main lodge building, which is still closed to visitors. Some of the group diverted briefly to explore “ Tiny Town”, a short loop trail South of the lodge.

Rounding the main lodge building, hikers entered the woods and travelled in a counter-clockwise direction on the trail system, first on a blue blazed trail that ran along route 89, and then a complete loop of the ( mostly ) red blazed wilderness loop on the Northerly side of the CNC property. The group found this to be an easy hike surface; there were some areas which in warmer temps would have been quite muddy due to recent rains. Despite the current lower temperatures those areas had still not frozen over completely but didn’t prove to be difficult to navigate. 

This loop in turn led to the habitat loop, which ultimately returned the group back to the main lodge.

A minor water crossing was encountered along the way, prompting the group to leave the path and cross the stream directly out of a concern for safety due to a snow-covered footbridge that was quite a-kilter. Some blazing  is fairly worn or has not been updated to the current colors for the loop, so hikers attempting this hike on their own should pay attention along the route.

Returning to the rear of the lodge the group looked over the animal enclosures and their inhabitants again with a little more detail than during our first walk past the cages. Then the group walked to the near-by treehouse structure, climbing the various levels of its interior in the process.

Hikers returned to the parking area  via the meadow trail system; finding that we still had about twenty minutes of hike time, we jumped onto the Black Diamond Trail for a short out-and-back walk of that pathway. BY the time the weather had cleared and the distant hills were again visible/


Photos by Randy/Nancy L

Complete photo album here


Sat Dec 25

Hike report and two photos by Jim

Pinnacles Look-out and Dove Trail, Danby SF

For our Christmas Day hike 11 hikers and 2 dogs at at the junction of Station and Bald Hill Rds

Rain fell for about half of the hike duration, although not in such quantity as to deter the hikers.

The roadway at the parking area was largely a sheet of ice, making nano spikes a welcome footwear accessory

The iced-over road conditions continued up the seasonal portion of Bald Hill RD, to the turn-off to Abbot Loop and the Pinnacles overlook

Light levels were low, and visibility from the Pinnacles was bad due to cloud cover and fog. The descent from the Pinnacles to the seasonal part of Bald Hill Rd was being compared to a Harry Potter film according to hikers behind me.

Once back onto the seasonal portion of Bald Hill Rd it was a short walk up the road to the turn back onto the Abbot Loop. The descent to the stream there was enjoyable, even with the slippery roots. Despite the on-going rain the water volume in the stream didn’t appear to be excessive, and the group make quick use of a log or two and some rocks to perform a fast water crossing.

After the water crossing the Loop follows the stream for a while, which I always find enjoyable on hikes. This lower area around the stream was the only area that the group encountered any actual muddy trail conditions

The Loop footpath eventually turns up-hill and then meets the Dove Trail. A few minutes on the Dove Trail brought the group back onto Bald Hill Rd near where we parked.

We wrapped up the hike a few minutes early this time but I didn’t hear any complaints.


Photos by Randy/Nancy L


Sun Dec 26

Hike report by Jim

South Hill Rim Trail and Rec Trail

21 hikers and 3 dogs met on Crescent Place for a hike of the South Hill Rim and Rec Trails

Weather overall was much nicer than the previous days Christmas Day hike in Danby.

Temps were cool, but we did not have to contend with the ice that was present the previous day

The Rim Trail was a pleasant walk, with streams running vigorously and the footpath buried under a winter layer of last summers wet leaves. There was a little mud along the way, but nothing too horrible compared to many of our past hikes.

The group had the Rim Trail to ourselves, which is sometimes a good thing especially when dealing with other hikers who might not be as dog-friendly as our group is.

Hikers emerged back onto the Rec Trail at just about the hour mark; given the opportunity to decide on our return route the group resoundingly supported returning to the cars via the Rec Trail instead of an out-and-back return on the Rim Trail.

The return trip was made quickly, with the group arriving at our cars with 15 minutes to spare.

I should note that Gerald, Leah and Sydney hiked with us for the last time today; they literally packed their car, came to the hike, and then took off for Canada immediately after the hike concluded. Speaking for the group it has been a pleasure to have them hiing with the group again this past semester!

A warm welcome to Shiftrah and Ruth on their first hike with the group!

Photos by Randy/Nancy L

Complete photo album here

Report to Hikers — week of Dec 13 — Dec 19

Hello Hikers!

Wed Dec 15

Hike repport by Jim

Dabes Diversion Loop and related trails, Cortland County

8 hikers met for a hike of the Dabes Diversion/ FLT/ Kuzia Cutoff loop in Cortland county.

It was a cold brisk day, which probably caused some of our regular people some hesitation in hiking this day. It is inevitable that the group sizes dwindle somewhat in the colder winter months.

The group needed no encouragement to start hiking from the parking area, and soon we were making our first water crossing and churning our way up the hillside on the opposite side of the stream. One or two blowdowns across the trail had to be carefully navigated around,  but nothing like the major blowdowns that forced the closure of this section of trail a few months ago.

Despite the wind it was still a nice fall day for a walk in the woods; nothing like the temperatures we had enjoyed the previous day, and none of the rain predicted for later in the week. Some members of the group chose to hike slower and focus on enjoying the surrounding woods; they quickly fell behind the main group which was focused on completing the loop

Making the first hill climb and then following the trail as it leveled out we got occasional gusts of wind, lessened each time the trail passed through a lower elevation.  The sturdy stone walls always elicit a few moments of conversation as we pass over and by them. The stands of pine, as always, are among my favorites of any found on area trails.

Coming out to the overlook that gives a panoramic view of open fields was a little rough, as the wind was blowing with full force there, encouraging the group to not delay too long in continuing our journey.

We took a short detour to look over the near-by shelter before continuing on the FLT in our original direction of travel. Dropping in elevation towards the major water crossing on this hike, the wind finally ceased completely, which made the hike much more enjoyable for everyone.

Finding our way across the water the group continued onwards, climbing towards the road crossing before the Kuzia cut-off.

The group passed through the Kuzia cutoff portion of the hike at what I can only assume is a record pace for us. Other than a short pause for a trail log entry we stopped at nothing in our path, even the stone foundations on that section of trail that we pass seemingly unnoticed.  The DEC forest thinning operations along that stretch of trail  are healing somewhat, but still detract from the former enjoyment I had of that bit of trail.

Soon we found ourselves on the seasonal road for the last leg of the hike, a road walk back to our cars. We arrived at the cars a full 20 minutes early, so we opted to walk to the near-by snowmobile trail for a short out and back hike to burn up the remaining hiking time.


Sat Dec 18

Hike report and three photos by Jim

West Malloryville trails and Von Engeln Preserve with Bob B

Despite some of the colder temperatures in a week or so, and with intermittent light rain accompanying us on the hike, 17 hikers and 2 dogs met at the von Engeln Preserve on West Malloryville Rd in the Town of  Dryden.

Our hike guide for today, area resident Bob Beck, met the group in the parking lot and after a brief introduction set off on the trails.

This particular hike has normally been a summer hike for the group since I’ve been hiking with it, so it was nice to see the terrain in this area in a  different season. When I scheduled the hike several weeks ago I had hoped that by the hike date we’d have some true winter snow conditions, but in retrospect the actual trail conditions today were great for the group.

Bob B led hikers along several trails, climbing and descending along eskers while stopping periodically to share his extensive knowledge of the areas formation during past ice ages and  the more recent political struggles that led to the genesis of the Preserves creation.

We passed by several ponds, bogs and other water features, and eventually crossed over the ever-popular beaver dam. A recently installed rope helped with the steep descent to the dam.  Bob explained that the dam is starting to deteriorate due to the beavers having moved on to better feeding areas, but I felt that the dam was actually easier to cross over today than what I recall of its condition in the past.

Exiting the forest trails onto the former railbed, Bob led interested hikers down a hill to examine the underbelly of the 150 ( ! ) year old structure.

Bob soon returned the group to forest trails and led us a short way to a viewing area and a short description of natural formations there, before turning around and making a quick hike back to the vehicles.

A sincere thank you to Bob for taking time from his busy schedule to host our group today.

For those who would like more information about this Preserve, see:

O.D. von Engeln Preserve At Malloryville | TNC (

Bob has written an excellent book on the subject of the Preserve area. The Journey at Malloryville Bog ( 2013 ) which is available for purchase at Buffalo Street Books or online in print and Kindle formats

Welcome to Eileen and Mary for their first hike with the group!


Photos by Nancy L/Randy

You can see Nancy and Randy’s complete photo album here


Sun Dec 19

Hike report by Nancy L

Rowell Hill, Connecticut Hill WMA

On a cold, raw morning 17 hikers and one dog met at the corner of Lloyd Stark and Boylan in Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management area to hike up Rowell Hill. Since the original approach was a little mucky, Randy spent a couple hours on Wednesday morning preparing a detour through a recent clearcut to avoid it. The clearcut was anything but “clear”. But the result was a rough but passable trail, a challenge since some brambles and scrambled log piles remained. We traversed this bypass on the way in and out of the hike up Rowell Hill. We climbed the hill to a small pond and were sufficiently warmed up by the exertion. We took a loop that traversed the main plateau of Rowell Hill. It’s a pleasant level walk through a mixed hardwood and red pine forest. We gathered at the stone remains of a small foundation before arriving at a nice viewpoint over the surrounding countryside to the south. After arriving back at the main trail, we traversed another loop in a different section of the hill affording some more cloud-shrouded views of the countryside. Then we followed our tracks back to Lloyd Stark Road. From there we could see our cars, and the group split up into three. A few returned to their cars, a few walked up the road, and a small group crossed the road to a trail over to a sizable beaver pond surrounded by large pines. We were all happy to pile into our cars to warm up! It should be noted that we saw absolutely no sign of hunters…no sign of anything to hunt either.

Photos by Nancy/Randy

You can see Randy and Nancy’s complete photo album here