Report to Hikers May 6-May 12

Wednesday, May 8

FLT from Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park, Alpine

Hike report by Jim

Twenty hikers and two dogs met in the parking lot of the Schuyler County Veterans Park for an out-and-back hike of the FLT in the area. This is hike # 66 on our list of regular hike locations:

I wasn’t sure how the day would turn out for the hikers, as it had rained and thundered during the night, but as I drove towards the trailhead I found that it was a beautiful day. The sun was out, the skies were clear, and the group arrived ready to hike.

Heading south from the Vets Park, the FLT passes through some private property with small ponds, a dry streambed and a well-maintained treadway before reaching county route 6. Crossing that road and making a quick turn onto Gulf Rd, the FLT soon turns into the woods and follows Cayuta Creek through Hendershot Gulf. The stream in this area is initially fairly slow moving and can almost appear stagnant during the dry summer months. As the trail follows the stream south, the water slowly picks up speed until it is flowing quite well. The FLT itself is sometimes fairly near the creek, and occasionally above it a good distance as the ground rises and falls.

The air was clear during the hike, and the FLT as it followed the creek was a visually pleasing mix of shadow and light. There was an abundance of newly flowering and blooming plants and trees along our route. Other than one or two spots where small streams cross the footpath there was no mud at all on todays hike

The fastest hikers made it beyond the location of the former wooden bridge that collapsed and was removed last year, with some hikers climbing the hill towards the Van Lone Loop. Upon turning around the group slowly reacquired the slower hikers as it returned the way the hikers had come on the outbound leg of the hike.

Post-hike some members of the group pre-hiked another location in the area for an upcoming hike, while others drove to Watkins Glen for an enjoyable lunch in the village.

Photo by Jim

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Photos by Greg

Saturday, May 11

Foundation of Light, Ithaca

Hike report by Jim

Forty-three hikers and one dog met at the Foundation of Light on Turkey Hill Rd in the Town of Dryden for a remembrance hike and celebration of life meal afterwards for Ithaca Hiker Linda V. This event was planned and led by Mary Jo.

The hike was an out-and back hike from the Foundation of Light down Turkey Hill Rd to Stevenson Rd, where the group picked up the Dryden Rail Trail and walked that until it was time to turn around. This hike is not on our list of regular hike locations.

The day turned out to be sunny and warm, despite a cool early morning. There was a good amount of cloud cover that resulted in the hills around us to be either half-sunlit or in the shadow of clouds as they moved across the sky.

Most of the group stayed for the dish-to-pass, and another thirty persons or so who weren’t able to join the hike arrived for the meal.

Thanks to everyone who planned or participated in todays events!

Photo by Jim
Photos by Joanna Hryniewicz

Sunday, May 12

FLT out-and-back from Diane’s Crossing, Danby SF

Hike report by Greg

Spring has sprung! Thirteen hikers and one dog walked out and back on a portion of the FLT. Weather conditions were ideal. With the forest canopy rapidly greening, a smattering of flowers blooming, but for a few spills on slippery leaves the hike was very pleasant. While most returned within 2 hours a few who ‘stopped to smell the roses’ took slightly longer.

Photo by Jim
Photos by Greg
Full Abbott Loop from Diane’s Crossing, Danby SF

Hike report by Casey

Six of us started the longer version of this hike an hour early because I had mistakenly remembered that we did this hike last time in 2 hours and 55 minutes. Well this is the entire Abbott’s Loop. I was only off by an hour. My original plan was to be able to meet up with the hikers who were doing the shorter version and starting at the regular time at 9:40. The idea was that we would likely run into them somewhere around their one hour turnaround time which may or may not have been at the Pinnacles. And that might have worked if our entire hike had actually taken less than 3 hours. This time we managed the 8.4 mile loop with around 1700 feet of elevation change in 3 hours, 50 minutes. Needless to say, by the time we staggered back to our cars, everyone else was long gone.

Life is full of tradeoffs. The last time we did this hike it was hot, sticky, and quite buggy. Not today. No rain, no heat, and no bugs. Did I mention tradeoffs? Not surprisingly for this time of year, it was plenty muddy and there were lots of stream crossing where the usual stepping stones had apparently been washed away. This is not an easy hike in that there is very little flat. Just lots of real ups and downs and many water crossings. But by the time you get back to the cars you have a great feeling of accomplishment.

Photos by Leigh Ann

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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

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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

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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

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Report to Hikers April 22-April 28

Wednesday, April 24

Eastman Hill Rd at the Tioga/ Tompkins County Line

Hike report by Jim

Ten hikers met at the end of the maintained portion of Eastman Hill Rd at the Tompkins and Tioga County line, for a hike of the FLT in the area. This is hike # 50 on our list of regular hike locations:

The weather forecast called for rain through much of the day, which I suspect accounted for a somewhat low turn-out. The day was cool and sunny when I arrived at the trailhead, but distant dark clouds moving towards our area were an ominous foretelling of weather to come.

The group set off on the seasonal/ unmaintained portion of Eastman Hill Rd that passes through DEC land. Reaching the intersection of Eastman Hill and Heisey Rd the group turned onto Heisey Rd. Before the FLT was recently re-routed we usually ended our hikes coming back on Heisey Rd; going in a reverse direction today caused me to be a little confused at the turn-off onto the FLT. The portion of the FLT between Heisey and Eastman Hill had a few sections of semi-solid mud that seemed to have the consistency of cookie dough. Not too bad, and not as liquid as the muddy section that we always run into on the opposite side of Eastman Hill Rd.

Once on the FLT walked to where it crosses the seasonal portion of Eastman Hill Rd, crossed over that road and continued on the FLT until entering the Eberhard Nature Preserve. My original plan had been to do a loop of the various trails within the Eberhard Preserve, but we were running short on time, so the group simply turned around and took the FLT back to where it crossed Eastman Hill Rd. The group returned to our cars via Eastman Hill Rd, with the rain starting to fall just as we drew closer to the trailhead.

Photo by Mary

Saturday, April 27

Virgil Mountain, Cortland County

Hike report by Greg

Nineteen hikers started and completed this 2 hour hike. No newcomers and no dogs accompanied us. Weather was ideal, temperatures fluttering around 50 degrees. There was some shedding and adding clothing depending on ascending or descending or rare sun exposure. Virtually no mud was encountered and 3 streams were readily traversed. Once again rain was delayed till after our hike! All in all a pleasant hike.

Sunday, April 28

FLT from Woodard Road to Hines Road and beyond, Enfield

Hike report by Casey

Lexi and approximately 31 hikers started at Woodard Road and headed west on the FLT. Yes there were muddy spots, but most of them were the spots that are muddy year round on this section of the FLT. After tackling the first few hills, three of us at the front had the pleasure of seeing a fisher in the woods scampering along a small ledge that was parallel to the park road. That is the first one I have seen in the wild.

We managed to cross Hines Road and continue through the woods to Rockwell Road where we walked a little and then followed the FLT across a field and into what is either part of the Bock-Harvey Preserve or very close to it before turning around and heading back to the cars.

On the way back there was the easy option of road walking Hines Road to Woodard and back to the cars, but for the first time since I have been doing this hike, I didn’t see anyone take that option. Although there could have been a few escapees that I failed to notice.

Anyway, we ended up with a nice 4.7 mile hike on a very pleasant spring day with a few rain drops only starting as we got into our cars.

Photo by Nancy H.

Report to Hikers April 15-April 21

Wednesday, April 17

The Pinnacles from Bald Hill Rd., Danby SF

Hike report by Casey

Marcy met with 26 hikers starting at Bald Hill Road and Station Road. We walked on Bald Hill Road a little until we turned right onto the orange blazed Abbott Loop. This was an out and back with everyone turning around in an hour regardless of any speed and distance differential. Seven of us actually made it up to the Pinnacles and down the other side all the way to the creek at the bottom of a steep hill at exactly one hour in.

At that point we turned around and retraced our steps until getting back to our cars at exactly the two hour point, having hiked 4.6 miles with an elevation gain of 900 to 1,000 feet depending on which app you use.

Photo by Jim
Photos by Leigh Ann

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Saturday, April 20

Hike along Carter Creek

Hike report by Nancy Lorr

32 people and 2 dogs gathered at the junction of Boylan and Lloyd Stark Rd for a hike along Carter Creek. We walked up Boylan Rd a short way passing a large beaver pond on the way.  After the road crossed Carter Creek we cut into the trees on a well trodden trail that followed the creek along the rim gradually going uphill to about 200 feet above the creek.  Then the trail headed gradually down hill.  During this stretch we had a good view of Rowell and Doll Hill  through the leafless trees.  The trail intersects Carter Creek Road.  This road follows the main branch of Carter Creek.  Most of us turned right on this road following it until we reached an old carriage road which we took down to view the creek closeup.  The creek was too full for an easy crossing though several hardy souls made it.  If we had been able to cross we could have seen the crumbling foundation of an old homestead a short way up the hill.  We retraced our steps and headed the other direction until we crossed the creek we had previously followed and reached a trail that headed uphill on the other side of the creek. At the top of the hill we visited a lovely beaver pond surrounded by old pines and  beaver chewed stumps of other trees.  We negotiated a swampy area to emerge on Lloyd Starks road close to our cars.

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Photos by Nancy and Randy

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Sunday, April 21

Logan Hill Nature Preserve, Candor

Hike report by Leigh Ann

Twenty hikers convened at the Candor High School parking lot to hike up and around the top of Logan Hill on the seasonal road and yellow trail. The day was kind of crummy, with colder and more overcast weather than in the previous week, but the trail and views were rewarding.

Photos by Leigh Ann
Photo by Kelly

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Report to Hikers April 8-April 14

Wednesday, April 10

Robinson Hollow State Forest, Richford

Hike report by Greg

Another wet gloomy Wednesday hike. Heavy rain before and after but for us steady drizzle. This hike is a rigorous up down up down with a brief level stretch hike. Eight of us started, one turned early, 7 continued. Mud while tolerable was annoying. At 45 minutes we took a vote and decided to turn around. On our early return some road walked to add time.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, April 13

Lower Treman Park

Hike report by Mark Sussman

Twenty hikers and 1 dog showed up at the parking area off of Route 34 for a hike into Lower Robert Treman State Park. The weather was chilly and a steady drizzle was falling. The hikers soon warmed up as they ascended the first steep section of the hike. The steep section also served to spread out the hikers, with the fast group galloping ahead. The group further spread out on the long uphill section. After that there is little significant elevation gain, but there are some small uphills and downhills. The trail, which is usually not very muddy, was quite slippery in spots. At least one hiker slid in the mud on a steep downhill section.

The lead group of the hikers made it all the way to the overlook of Lucifer Falls. The falls were roaring that morning due to all the rain we’ve been having. The main group made it back to the parking area in about 2.5 hours. Everyone was a bit damp and muddy, but there were no complaints.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, April 14

Cayuga Trail from Freese Rd

Hike report by Leigh Ann

Twenty-four hikers met at the Cornell Garden Plots parking lot off Freese Rd. to hike easterly along the Varna Cliffs and North Monkey Run. The first quarter mile of this hike is reliably muddy even during drier parts of the year. After a week of mostly rainy days, the trail was chocolate milk water and peanut butter mud most the way.  Everyone’s boots and lower legs got thoroughly sleazed. It was horribly wonderful. With that said, it was slippery enough on the steep parts that five hikers headed back via Hanshaw Road once we got to our turn-around point at North Monkey Run gravel road (2 miles in). All together, it took a little less than two hours for the remaining 19 hikers to return to the cars.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.