Report to Hikers — week of Feb 28 — Mar 6

Hello Hikers!

Wed Mar 2

Hike report by Jim

Curtis Road, South Danby

Six hikers met at the junction of Hill and Curtis Rd, for a planned hike of the seasonal portion of Curtis Rd.

A seventh hiker went to the wrong intersection and ended up hiking their own hike to Curtis RD via the FLT.

It was a pleasant hiking day, and the wind that so often plagues this hike location was absent on this hike.

Passing Karenville we paused briefly to interact with Tangles the pony, before continuing onwards.

We soon found that beyond the last inhabited residence on Curtis Rd, the road surface turned into a messy slick and hazardous walking surface. Arriving at the FLT crossing point I suggested to the group that we deviate from the planned hike and turn onto the FLT. The trail surface was shown to be crusty but walkable, without the slippery nature of Curtis Rd.

The group hiked Westerly in the FLT, eventually reaching the Abbott Loop. The hikers turned onto the Abbott Loop, walking Southerly until we reached the hour mark, at which time we turned around and re-traced our steps back to Curtis Rd and from there back to our cars.

Overall it was a good hike day, and in view of the season, not entirely unexpected that we encountered the icy conditions.


Sat Mar 5

Hike report by Jim

Virgil Mountain

Ten Hikers and 2 dogs met in Cortland County at the junction of Odell and Baldwin Rds, for a hike of Virgil Mountain. Two additional hikers arrived late and did their own separate and much longer hike of the Virgil Mountain Loop.

We’ve previously hiked this route only in the summer, and our normal pace is normally sufficient to get us to the peak of the mountain and back to the cars in two hours.

Arriving at the parking area early, I spoke to several day hikers, snowshoers, etc who were there ahead of me. Based on their reports of trail conditions I gave our group the option of hiking an alternative to the planned route, but everyone was enthusiastic for hiking the mountain regardless of trail conditions.

The group walked up Odell Rd and plunged into the woodline. The FLT footpath along this section of trail had seen a minimal level of foot traffic, so it was somewhat compacted; but not to the degree  that the FLT in the opposite direction towards Bleck Rd had been observed to be.

The group proceeded slowly up the mountain, crossing a small number of streams along the way, while passing through stands of evergreens that lent a certain muted ambiance to the hike.

Reaching Van Donsel Rd at the hour mark I discussed with the group that our pace was slowed enough that we could not reach the peak and return to the cars within the allotted hike time. Several of us had afternoon commitments, so the group split into two sub-groups, with half continuing up the hill and my half of the group returning to the cars within the two hour hike time.

Cian reported to me the following day that the subgroup that had summited had hiked an additional hour in order to do so.

Warm welcome to Kris, Louie and Miles on their first hike with the group.

Photos by Cian

You can see Cian’s complete album here

Two photos by Casey, who arrived late and did his own walk


Sun Mar 6

Hike report and photo by Jim

South Danby Road east, Danby

18 hikers and 2 dogs met on South Danby Rd for a hike of the FLT Easterly.

It was the warmest hike day we’ve had in a  while, with highs in the 50s. Turn-out reflected the excellent hiking weather.

As we set off from the parking area, it was obvious that the higher temperatures  were already having an impact, as the streams were flowing with a lot of run-off, and the icy lower sections of the trail were already weakening and collapsing in on themselves.

In a very short time I realized that the FLT itself was an inferior hiking surface to the snowmobile trail that follows alongside the FLT. The surfaces of both trails  were melting, but the snowmobile trail had started as a compacted surface and still easier to hike on. So most of our hike East of South Danby Road was over the snowmobile trail. Cian opted to stay on the FLT and reported later that it had been a long process of post-holing his way along the trail.

Periodically we would meet the FLT as it crossed over the snowmobile trail, and I opted to remain on the snowmobile trail.

The trail climbed the hill, the sun and snow combining to create a mix of light and shadow. In places the needles under the evergreens lay exposed, the surface of snow in those places already melted away. Portions of the path that I recall being muddy in warmwer months were still thankfully quite frozen.

The group chattered behind me, while Casey kept me company at the front of the line.

Eventually the path ended its long climb and we found ourselves descending towards Peter Rd.

Reaching Peter Rd the group turned Westerly and followed Peter Rd to South Danby Rd.

It was here that the group encountered the only other person we saw the entire hike, as  a local resident passed us on his Gator.

Reaching South Danby Rd the group turned around and re-traced our path back to the snowmobile trail. The sun was beating down on us, and the snow underfoot was always beginning to turn into a melting slush. The wind was picking up, causing me to be thankful that we were not conducting this hike later in the day when the melt might have progressed further.

Once back on the snowmobile trail it was mostly a descent back to the cars, and so we found ourselves standing at the parking area with half an hour to spare.

The group opted to jump on the FLT on the opposite side of the road and walk to Fisher Settlement Rd to bring us closer to our normal hike duration.

This was done without incident.

Welcome to Val and Al on their first hike with the group!

Photos by Cian

You can see Cian’s complete album here

Report to Hikers — week of Feb 21 — Feb 27

Hello Hikers!

Wed Feb 23

Hike report and two photos by Jim

Monkey Run Natural area, south side of Fall Creek

Nine hikers met on Monkey Run Rd for a hike of the trails on the South side  of Fall Creek.

When I first got to the parking lot I spoke to a woman who was just coming off the trail with her dog; we reviewed a trail map and she advised me of some areas that she had found to be impassible due to trail damage or significant ice that had covered the footpath.

As the group arrived I advised them that we might be forced to deviate from our normal hike route due to trail conditions

The group set off towards the west, the orange-blazed footpath underfoot still slick enough from a layer of ice that traction was a necessity for much of that section of trail. The group climbed upwards, then began a meandering section of trail that climbs and falls as it makes its way towards Varna.

The group emerged from the woods and began the section of road-walking that cuts across the open Cornell fields. Here we found the remaining ice on the road to be extremely fragile, with a significant amount of water flowing below the icey surface.

Soon we turned into the red blazed trail that runs along Fall Creek itself. Here we found the creeks shores to be lined with huge fractured slabs of ice. The accompanying photos depict Bud crossing a pile of such slabs, along with a group photo. The amount of water flowing in the creek today was significant

It was here we encountered  a tenth Ithaca hiker, who had arrived late and opted to hike our usual  route in reverse to meet us.

The group continued onwards, stopping occasionally to view the creek below from the high bluffs, until we arrived at one of the final downhill slopes that was covered with a significant amount of ice. The group conferred on our course of action, with most preferring to backtrack a bit and take the less iced-over yellow blazed side trail back to the cars. One hardy hiker opted to continue on alone over the ice-covered red blazed trail.

The remainder of the group re-traced our steps to the yellow blazed trail, taking that back to the cars with a few minutes to spare.

Despite the trail conditions it was a good hike, with relatively warm temperatures. The group had the trail to ourselves in the time we were there.

Photo by Nancy H

Three shots of the icy conditions by Bud:


Sat Feb 26

Hike report by Jim

Woodard Road west on the FLT to Rockwell Road, Enfield

13 hikers met on Woodard Rd for a hike Westerly on the FLT.

Two late arrivals chose to do their own hike Easterly on the FLT and will be reporting separately.

It was a sunny day, and after the warm temperatures earlier in the week most of the existing snowpack had melted off the trail. The very recent snows had formed a thin layer of hard crunchy snow that gave no difficulties except on the steepest of hillsides.

The group made its way Westerly on the FLT quickly, the route well-marked for the most part along this popular section of trail. Other than a few glimpses of park road through the bare trees there is little to hint of surrounding civilization until you approach the Treman Conference Center on Hines Rd.

The group passed over Hines and continued on the FLT, stopping just before reaching Rockwell Rd. Here the majority of the group opted to turn around rather than road walk back to the cars. I opted to continue on to Rockwell and road walk the entirety of the return leg.

I met up with the group as they exited the woods on Hines Rd. Here the group split again, with most of the group opting for an out-and-back on the FLT, while some of us opted for a road walk back to Woodard Rd.

Arriving back at the cars I walked into the woods until I met the hikers returning to Woodard via the FLT.

Three photos by Leigh Ann

You can see Leigh Ann’s complete album here


Sun Feb 27

Hike report by Jim

FLT into Hammond Hill State Forest from Route 38 South of Dryden

15 hikers and 4 dogs met on Star Stanton Hill Rd for a hike of the FLT.

The morning was sunny and clear, although somewhat windy at the meeting location.

The view up and down the valley from Star Stanton Hill Rd was great.

The group started up the hill, a steep climb through snow that was compacted by snowmobiles in recent days. Star Stanton Hill Rd in this area is abandoned, although the road surface is in very good condition due to some logging operations that occurred in recent years.

Soon the FLT turns into the woodline and heads towards the yellow blazed trails on Hammond Hill. The snowpack here was not as compacted as it had been on the roadway, but thanks to recent warm temperatures wwith the ensuing snow melt, the snow depth was not intolerable. The sun shone off the fresh white snow in the woods we passed through.  Here the Trail passes through some stands of evergreen trees and young forest growth; for much of the hike here the view of the valley beyond the forest is visible through the leafless trees.

Eventually the FLT takes a sharp turn and climbs the hillside to join the Hammond Hill trail system. The group passed a couple of snowshoers and skiers, but otherwise had the trail to ourselves. The Hammond Hill trail was very much compacted due to the amount of use its had, so the group managed to move at a fairly good pace for the remainder of the hike.

Eventually the group reached the Hammond Hill radio tower and turned around to retrace our route back to the cars. The return leg, much of it now downhill, passed much quicker than the outbound leg of the journey had.

Photos by Leigh Ann:

You can see Leigh Ann’s complete album here

Report to Hikers — week of Feb 14 — Feb 20

Hello Hikers!

Wed Feb 16

Hike report by Jim

Kennedy State Forest, Cortland County

7 hikers and 1 dog met in Cortland County for a hike of ( mainly ) the FLT in Kennedy Forest.

The weather at the trailhead was a little concerning, with some good winds whipping through the treetops and enough windchill to penetrate multiple layers of clothing. Ultimately the wind was a non-issue as we hiked deeper in the woods, and only reminded us of its presence as we returned to the cars at the end of our hike.

The trail surface, while not perfect, was better than some I have seen recently. The snow had a decently hard crust that lighter hikers could stand entirely on the crust without breaking through. Thankfully there has been enough hiker traffic on this portion of the trail that the treadway was beaten down and easily traveled, even if the surface was a little uneven and somewhat slippery due to the constant freeze and thaw cycles since the last snowfall. Foot traction was essential on this hike.

It was a pleasant walk, with the streams frozen over and easily passed over. The visual scars of last years logging operations remained buried away from view and only hinted at by the stumps and piles of logs thrusting up from beneath the layers of white. The light from the sun that occasionally reminded us of its presence was a nice light and shadow contrast inside the forest. The snow remained fresh enough along the route that the various and frequent  splashes of small cones across the snows surface made an interesting visual contrast.

The group found the Swedish loop and other side trails much less travelled than the FLT itself, but not unbearably so where we would have found ourselves breaking trail through the deep snow. This was more a case of while not a perfect walking surface but of being “just good enough” that it wasn’t a miserable slog through deep snow.

Soon enough we found ourselves at the yellow blazed shortcut back to the FLT.

The return trip to the cars was uneventful.


Sat Feb 19

Hike report by Nancy L

Depotron Hollow Road, Danby

10 hikers met at the corner of Miller and Marsh Rd on a chilly windy day.  The hike on Marsh down to Deputron was uneventful.  The road was mostly clear  of ice and snow.  Soon we turned left onto the snow covered Deputron road.  The snow on the road was tamped down enough for easy walking for the hikers most of whom we’re wearing traction devices on their feet.  About half way down we received warnings of a snow squall but most of us decided to go on hiking.  Cian met us at the top of Deputron after hiking from Coddington so he was able to join us for the hike down.  We hiked a fair distance past the unplowed portion before turning around to make our way back.  On the way the promised squall arrived but in the protection of the dense surrounding woods neither the wind or the snow were very intense.  All returned safely to their cars.The following pic is courtesy of Roger Beck:

Photos by Cian

You can see Cian’s complete photo album here


Sun Feb 20

Special exploratory hike report and two photos by Jim

International Loop near Kennedy SF

I didn’t have a formal group hike planned for Sunday, as I’d originally expected the days focus to be on the gathering at Chestnut Lean-To that was cancelled.

Once the days events were cancelled, I wanted to check out the International Loop near Kennedy State Forest in Virgil. Stephen had previously advised me that he’s never taken the group through this particular trail system. Other members of our group heard of my plans and asked to come along. With the understanding that this was an entirely new hike location that I was only doing an exploratory walk on, five of us met on Daisy Hollow Rd for a walk of the maze of trails that make up this particular hiking experience.

With only a map awareness of the trail system, I started the group off on a blue blazed trail that meandered along Christina Creek. This part of the trail system had seen only minimal previous use, and we found ourselves breaking trail through hard crusted snow and seeking out the shallower drifts to posthole through.

Reaching the top of the hill we merged into a network of trails, and the group split up into sub-groups to check out different blazed trails, with an agreed-upon trail intersection that we would meet at further  up the hill.

From this point on the going was much easier; the trail register I wrote in indicated that a sizeable number of Tri-city Hikers had used the trails the day before, and they had compacted the footpath enough that the hike became much more enjoyable for our group.

The group eventually reached the Spanish Loop Trail and the Tiny Pond Spur Trail I had intended to use as our turn-around point.

The return trails tended to follow the utility right of ways at points, but did offer some nice green tunnels to hike through stands of evergreens

Overall this was an enjoyable hike location, one I intend to bring the group back to when warmer weather returns and we don’t have to contend with the snow.

Photos by Cian

Complete photo album here

Report to Hikers — week of Feb 7 — Feb 13

Hello Hikers!

Wed Feb 9

Hike report and photo by Jim

Sapsucker Woods

16 hikers met for a hike of the Sapsucker Woods trails at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

This was a first-time hike location for the group, so it was a bit of an experiment for me in terms of route planning. I much appreciated the advice of Joel and Jane, area members of the group who joined us on this hike and gave suggestions on the route to hike.
The day was relatively warm in comparison to the weekend temps. The trails were well compacted by previous walkers as well as skiers. There were a few other day walkers or joggers on the trail but for the most part we had the trail to ourselves.
We started from the parking lot area and made our way through a long loop that travelled through the woods behind the visitor’s center. The trail eventually came out onto Sapsucker Woods Rd and we crossed over to do a loop of the trail system on the Eastern side of the roadway.

Returning to Sapsucker Woods Rd we re-traced our steps for the most part, although at one point I veered off the path to take us on an alternate loop that took the group further away from one of the local apartment complexes that is adjacent to the Sanctuary.
We came back to our cars and the parking lot a few minutes early; I’ll have to revise the route on future visits to get us closer to our normal hike duration.
I brought binoculars to this hike thinking that we might get a look at some wildlife, but other than some squirrels we didn’t get the opportunity to see any living wildlife today/

A warm welcome to Norm’s friend Mary who hiked with the group today for the first time!


Sat Feb 12

Hike report and two photos by Jim

Ekroos Road, Tioga County

When I first arrived at the parking area there was a significant amount of cloud cover and the upper branches on the trees around me were alive with the sound of the wind blowing through them. The ground at the parking area was a sheet of ice, so most of the group hiked with some form of foot traction.

As the hike progressed the ice underfoot soon gave way to mud, making the traction unnecessary.

Within the first thirty minutes or so of the hike the wind had died down and the sun had come out. By this time the group was emerging from a section of the road that is well-lined with trees on both sides, to a part of the hike where the southerly side of the road opens up in broad vistas of the fields and hills in that direction. The sun made this particular stretch of the hike very inviting.

Arriving at the two residences about a mile down the road, the group found that the seasonal portion of the road where plowing normally ceases was in fact plowed today. This section of the road is most notable for the deep gully ( I can’t really get away with calling it a gorge ) that runs alongside the road The group pressed onward, hiking down the hill and crossing Boyer Creek as the road approached 76 Road inside of Tompkins County. The group turned around and crawled its way back up the hill for the return leg of the hike.

Passing the two residences at the crest of the first hill, the group found weather conditions changing again. The previous cloud cover returned with a vengeance, the sunny and clear portions of sky still visible to the south but quickly scuttling away from us. Soon a steady drumbeat of granular snow started to fall, quickly enveloping the group in what gave the appearance of hiking in a life-sized snow globe. By the time we made it back to the cars the ground was covered by a fine layer of fresh snow.

Overall, a very good day to hike this particular stretch of road.

Five photos by Leigh Ann

Ypu can see Leigh Ann’s complete photo album here.


Sun Feb 13

Hike report by Jim

Lloyd Stark and Carter Creek roads, Connecticut Hill

7 hikers and 2 dogs met at the junction of Connecticut Hill Rd and Lloyd Starks Rd for a hike of the seasonal roads in the area. An additional 2 hikers also arrived but chose to ski the area roads together rather than hike with the rest of the group.

The snow on Lloyd Starks was well-compacted from snowmobiles, so the going was not terribly difficult despite recent warm days which I had thought might have softened up the snowpack.

It was a pleasant hike up to the crest of Lloyd Starks Rd; from there it was a gentle downhill to the junction with the seasonal portion of Carter Creek Rd, which had likewise been compacted by snowmobile traffic. Compared to the last winter hike where we hiked this area, when unknown persons had churned up Carter Creek Rd by driving through it repeatedly with 4 wheel drive vehicles, the surface today was an excellent hiking surface. I also found that the logged area along Lloyd Stark was much less of an eyesore thanks to the snowcover.

As the group moved along Carter Creek Rd a small amount of snow started falling, not enough to create any sort of hazard but enough to give the hike a nice wintery feel.

The group reached Hulford Rd before turning around and re-tracing our steps back to the cars.

The hiking group ran into a couple of dog walkers along the way, as well as a porcupine that had earlier lost a battle with some other wildlife, but otherwise we had the trail to ourselves.

The skiers reported to me later that they had relocated to Tower Rd. They advised me that they had skied until 1230 or so, as they found surface conditions in that area to be better.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Two more hikers, Randy and Nancy L, decided to ski the roads. You can see Nancy’s photo album here.

Report to Hikers — week of Jan 31 — Feb 6

Hello Hikers!

Wed Feb 2

Hike report by Jim

Lime Hollow Nature Center, Cortland County

8 hikers met on Gracie RD in Cortland County for a hike of various trails within the Lime Hollow Nature Center property.

The parking area was fairly well-covered with a layer of ice, which most hikers took as a cue to wear some form of foot traction. I opted for nano spikes, although we later found that the trail conditions were probably better for microspikes. Ultimately the trails were so compacted from previous skiers and hikers that no form of foot traction was really needed.

Setting off Westerly on the Lehigh Valley trail hikers soon arrived at the High Vista Loop  Trail which circles Baldwin Pond. Parts of this loop were the least compacted of any we found on the various trails. Stopping to look at Baldwin Pond, Steve S took the opportunity to walk out on the ice to check it out. Based on some other people present and what I took to be ice fishing holes on the pond surface, I assumed the ice was quite safe. Various wildlife observations also took place at this point of the hike.

Returning to the Lehigh Valley trail the group jumped onto the Hermits Way, which in turn connected to Fen Way and its return to Lehigh Valley. Through this stretch of trail the snow surface was  littered with the bark and needle and seed residue of the forest around us. The contrast of the snow, the darker bark, and this forest residue made for interesting visuals on this sunny day.

The sun was out, no wind was noticed, and so this was an enjoyable portion of the hike for me.

Once back on the Lehigh Valley Trail the group returned to the parking area, passed our cars and continued Easterly on the Lehigh Valley Trail.

We jumped onto  Maple Run, which led us to the Chicago bog. Once there the entire group walked out onto the frozen surface, something we’ve never done on previous hikes there. Walking across the pond we soon jumped back onto solid ground at the Phiilips Memorial Walk trail, which we took to Gracie Rd. The group returned to the Maple Run via the Esker Connector, and from there back to our cars.

Hike duration was almost a perfect two hours, arriving back at the cars with eight minutes to spare.

This was a great day to hike, with minimum difficulty from weather or trail conditions. The group behind me was  a steady hum of conversation for nearly the entire hike, so I assume that everyone with me had an enjoyable morning.


Sat Feb 5

Hike report by Nancy H

Stewart Park, bird sanctuary and Newman Golf Course

Eight hikers and two dogs met on a cold, snow-covered morning in Stewart Park. As hikers arrived, we found out that the roads inside the park had not yet been plowed. Two hikers’ cars got stuck in the snow when they tried to drive into the park, and the group spent some time digging and pushing to move the cars. Eventually, everyone parked in the lot of the Ithaca Youth Bureau, which had been plowed and salted.

With temperatures in the low teens and a brisk wind coming off the lake, we decided to head into the bird sanctuary to get out of the wind. There we made our way through the deep, powdery snow (it looked like maybe one or two people had been on the trail before us). One hiker in our group wore snowshoes. Norm spotted some mink tracks and (later) fox tracks in the snow.

After we’d looped through the woods, we crossed the bridge and walked across the golf course. Here the wind reasserted itself, but the sun and the astonishing blue sky made up for it. We gave our legs a rest by walking on a plowed road at the far side of the golf course. From there we headed back toward Stewart Park, cut through the woods again, and made our way back to our cars.

Photo of Leigh Ann by Nancy H

Photos by Leigh Ann

You can see Leigh Ann’s complete photo album here


Sun Feb 6

Hike report by Jim

Quiet rural roads weest of Upper Treman SP

Eight hikers and two dogs  met on Woodard Rd in Enfield for a roadwalk of the surrounding country roads. A ninth hiker arrived late and did their own solo hike. I had originally planned this as an FLT walk, but I arrived early to the meeting location, drove around the surrounding roads to check conditions, and chose to switch to a road walk.

It was a sunny but cold day, excellent for walking. Expecting some windy conditions I wore an extra layer or two but never felt overheated during the walk.

Road conditions, while well plowed and sanded, were slippery in parts and most of the group wore some form of foot traction.

Weather conditions were enjoyable except for portions of Thomas Rd where the group experienced some stiff winds coming across the open fields.

The group eventually arrived on Thomas Rd where the FLT leaves the woods and enters Robert Treman at the gated service road; to proceed further would have meant breaking trail through the fresh snow, which no one was interested in doing. The group used that as our turn-around point dfspite it being not yet quite an hour into the walk.

The group arrived  back at our cars also slightly early, but no one complained.

Photos by Leigh Ann

You can see Leigh Ann’s complete photo album here