Report to Hikers November 20-November 26

Wednesday, November 22

 Mulholland Wildflower Preserve

Hike report by Jim

After a night of high winds and rain, eleven hikers met in the city of Ithaca for a hike of Mulholland Wildflower Preserve and Wells Falls. This is hike # 1 on our list of regular hike locations:

The morning temps were in the 40s as the hikers pulled into the parking lot off Giles Street. There were already several other day hikers/ dog walkers in the Preserve, so our group jockeyed around to fill the remaining limited parking spaces.

Setting off into the Preserve, the group found the cascades in the creek and the waterfalls flowing off the cliff faces to be running strongly, thanks to the previous evenings rainfall. The day was somewhat overcast but still quite enjoyable. We stopped occasionally to check out a few sections of the creek we were passing, and then turned onto the blue blazed trail that leads to the second dam service road. Before reaching that road we turned onto the branch of the blue blazed trail that winds along the side of the hill and gives a great view of the creek around second dam, where the water was flowing strongly enough that it was quite loud even from a distance. Reaching the end of that blue blazed trail we merged onto the service road and walked a short distance to the overlook above second dam. As I no longer take hikers along the goat path of a trail that continues to third dam, we reversed direction and re-traced our route back to the parking area.

From our cars we crossed Giles Street and traversed the bridge before taking the higher loop blue blazed trail that comes out over Wells Falls. That loop returned the hikers to Giles Street; we then took the lower blue blazed trail to the base of Wells Falls. Wrapping up the hike we returned to Giles Street and our cars, arriving back in the parking lot about ten minutes earlier than usual.

A warm welcome to Val and Hina on their first hike with the group!

Photos by Jim

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Friday, November 24

Monkey Run South Side

Hike report by Jim

Seventeen hikers and two dogs met on Monkey Run Rd for a special Friday Thanksgiving Weekend hike of the Monkey Run trail system on the southerly side of Fall Creek. This is hike # 6 in our list of regular hike locations:

The day was chilly at the start of the hike, and no one in the group was complaining to get started so they could warm up. The footpath between the parking area and Route 366 along the orange blazed trails was a little muddy in places but not terribly so. The wind was a little bit of a bracing shock in the very beginning as we hiked along an exposed ridgeline, and persisted until we’d crossed the open fields near Varna and returned to the red-blazed trails along the creek. The sun came out for us fairly early in the hike but soon disappeared, never to be seen during the remainder of the morning. We encountered several other small clusters of day hikers with their dogs but for the most part we were by ourselves in the woods. We hiked along the high bluffs, then followed the red blazed trails in a long loop at creek level. Rather than pass through a portion of the trail in the closing minutes of the hike that’s always extremely muddy, the group opted to retrace the route to a side trail which brought us out at the cars right on time and just as a coarse granular snow started to fall.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, November 25

 Kennedy State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Twenty hikers met in Cortland County for a hike in Kennedy State Forest. This is hike #40-4 on our list of regular hike locations:

This hike has always been a bit of a planning challenge for me because no matter how I configure the route we take; we always seem to get back to the cars 15-20 minutes sooner than I expected. With the recent opening of the Ukranian Loop I thought that finally we’d have a route that would bring us back to the cars at the expected time.

The morning was cool and sunny as we set out through the forest. The forest floor had that springy quality where the surface needles underfoot are frozen while the underlying ground is still soft or even muddy. The footpath had more mud and standing water than we’ve had in recent hikes here, with some of it being well concealed under the leaf cover. A decent amount of water was flowing in the streams but we completed the crossings without incident.

The route today consisted of the FLT to the new Ukraninan Loop, to an unblazed connector that took us back to the FLT. From there we jumped onto the Swedish Loop and completed that, arriving back at the FLT. Once back on the FLT it was a straight -forward hike back to the cars, where we arrived…fifteen minutes earlier than planned… at this point I can only assume that the FLT travels through Kennedy Forest via the Twilight Zone or the Bermuda Triangle! We’ll keep at it until I get it right!

Photo by Jim

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, November 26

 FLT from Lower Robert Treman

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-five hikers and three dogs met in the Tappan Mitra parking lot at Shady Corners, for an out-and-back hike of the FLT in Robert Treman State Park. This is hike # 8-1 on our list of regular hike locations:

The day was cool, with a cold breeze greeting hikers as they arrived. The group set off through the thick leaves in the lower Robert Treman camping area, each hiker setting their own pace for the outbound leg of the hike. Pretty quickly the larger group settled into distinct subsets of hikers, the fastest hikers quickly disappearing from view.

At about the hour mark everyone turned around, the fastest group having made it as far as Butternut Creek and the wooden FLT bridge there before turning around, for a total distance hiked of 7.25 miles.

Photo by Jim

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers November 13 – November 19

Wednesday, November 15

Camp Barton

Hike report by Mark S.

A large group, especially for a Wednesday hike, met at Camp Barton. The weather was perfect – cool and sunny. Twenty-seven hikers and three dogs began the hike by heading up the steep rim trail. One hiker felt it was too steep and explored the flat area.

After the initial ascents, the uphill becomes far more gradual. The hikers enjoyed views of the 3 waterfalls of Frontenac Creek. The flow was not at its best, but the views were still impressive. The hikers also enjoyed the beautiful mossy areas that are found along the rim.

The group next entered the main gorge and hiked to the base of Frontenac Falls. Since the water levels were low, this was a reasonable group activity. 

After returning to the main area of the camp, the group decided to check out one additional small but high falls that is found next to the winter camping area of Barton. The falls, as expected, were dry, but people enjoyed seeing the other areas of the camp. 

Several people decided to take alternate routes back, and all returned safely to their cars.

Photo by Jim

Saturday, November 18

Ithaca City Architecture Tour

Hike report by Nancy L.

Thirty hikers and three dogs met in the parking lot at Esty between Albany and Plain Street in the city of Ithaca, for an urban walking tour led by  Randy Olson and Nancy Lorr.

The day was sunny but cool. To start off we visited the first black fraternity right on the block before heading for State street and a cluster of historic buildings including a famous early Queen Anne style house as well as the State theatre. After visiting the old Ithaca college, the Post office and an old County Courthouse, we headed over to Cascadilla Gorge. We got a good workout climbing the gorge. The view along the trail which hugs closely to the cascading creek was quite impressive.

Crossing College Ave the group walked onto the Cornell campus, where Randy led us on a circular route which included  Bailey Hall, the Ad White House and Morrill Hall, the first building in the Arts Quad. Bonuses included a garden of labeled rocks in the Engineering  quad and a modern sculpture of glass called PolyForm designed by Jenny Sabin. We stopped at Libe Slope, where we had a great view of downtown and the area beyond west hill thanks to clear skies. We encountered the Cornell marching band several times. We could even hear them playing inside the Uris library while on Libe slope. 

On the way downhill back to town, we stopped by Telluride Hall, a house notable for its residents, including Francés Perkins, the first female resident who was concurrently the Secretary of Labor and Richard Feynman. We also visited Llenroc, Ezra Cornell’s house. The group continued to the city cemetery and then walked downhill to the Fall Creek neighborhood where we finished our circular route back at our cars. 

Photo by Jim

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

View Nancy’s photo album.

Sunday, November 19

Potato Hill State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Thirty nine hikers and three dogs met on Level Green Rd for an out-and-back hike of the FLT towards Blackman Hill Rd and beyond. This is hike 29-1 of our regular hike locations:

While it was opening weekend of gun season all of the hunters in the area were returning to their vehicles as I arrived for the hike. The day was cool and clear with an occasional breeze. The group got a little bit of a late start as last minute arrivals continued to arrive for several minutes after our normal start time.

Once we were past all of the pre-hike instructions, the group set off, with Casey and Leigh Ann setting a good pace for the group. There’d only recently been a couple of rainy days, so the usually muddy trail sections at the beginning of this hike were in full quagmire mode, with the recently fallen leaves concealing the muddy surprises beneath. Once past that first section of trail, things improved, the leaves concealing the normally obvious footpath beneath; trail maintainer Lucy G has recently re-blazed the trail section, so the route through the trees was clear, thanks to the frequent and newly applied blazes. Thanks to Lucy and all other trail maintainers for your on-going efforts!

The “new” bridges from last year at water crossings were still greatly appreciated today. I always enjoy most the section of trail through the pines in the area of the trail register, followed by the open fields near the usual turn-around point. Crossing Blackman Hill Rd, the group entered Summerland Nature Preserve: The day was mostly clear, and as I looked into the distance, I could see rainclouds dumping their watery burden in the area of the furthest visible ridgeline.

Because the FLT beyond Summerland Preserve is a hunting season closure the group settled for a long lap around the perimeter of the open fields before we returned to Blackman Hill Rd for the return leg of our hike. Hikers arrived back at our cars with a few minutes to spare, so some hikers did a short road walk south on Level Green Rd, while others continued their hike a short distance on the FLT towards 76 Road before turning around (the hunting closure on that stretch of the FLT doesn’t start right at Level Green Rd ). As the hikers started leaving the first drops of rain began hitting our cars. Good timing, in avoiding the rain that followed.

After the hike several hikers stopped at Brookton Market and gathered at hiker Mary W’s near-by home for food and refreshments. Thank you, Mary, for opening your house to the group!

Welcome to Mary, Toni and Fan on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim
Photo by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers November 6 – November 12

Wednesday, November 8

Yellow Barn State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Thirteen hikers and a dog met at the end of Signal Tower Rd for a hike of Yellow Barn State Forest. This is hike 33 on our list of regular hike locations:

The day was cool, and there was a dusting of fresh snow on the ground. The group set off down the seasonal road that extends beyond the end of the maintained portion of Signal Tower Rd. This location has been the site of some recent residential development, but soon we were past the new house lots and following the old logging road in a southerly direction. Reaching a fork in the road we turned towards the horse fields to the east and walked the edge of the fields until reaching the cross-country ski loop at the end of the second field. The group completed a loop of the ski trail and returned to the horse fields, re-tracing our steps back to our cars. The wind had picked up by this point, the sun had come out, and the new snow was quickly melting from the forest floor around us as we reached the cars.

Edit: if you were on today’s hike, be sure to check yourself well after getting home. I picked up a tiny hitchhiker somewhere along the hike route today.

Photo by Greg H.

Saturday, November 11

Black Diamond Trail

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-two hikers and a single dog met in the Jacksonville Rd parking lot for the north end of the Black Diamond Trail for an out-and-back hike of the Black Diamond Trail. This is not a hike that currently exists on our list of regular hike locations. The day was cool and overcast, although the sun made a limited appearance during the morning.

The group set off without incident and quickly broke down into distinct subsets according to people’s walking pace. The fastest group hiked a total of 7.25 miles during the hike. We encountered a few other day hikers and dog walkers during the hike, but the trail was surprisingly empty for a weekend.

Welcome to Joy and Linda on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Leigh Ann

Sunday, November 12

Ekroos Rd Roadwalk

Hike report by Jim

Twenty three hikers and a single dog met on Ekroos Rd, just over the line into Tioga county, for a rural out-and-back road walk. This is hike number 54-1 on our list of regular hike locations:

We are more often here as a late summer or winter hike location for the group, and I like it best when the colors are changing or we’re in the depths of winter and the plowed roads here make an easy hike when so many other locations are snowed in. The road was shut down for several months and unavailable to the group, however, so today it made for a nice hunting season road walk.

Temperatures were on the cool side, with a little bit of breeze that chilled you until the hike started. The skies were generally overcast. The outbound leg of this hike is a gradual decline until nearly the end, when it becomes more of a serious downhill grade that’s often entirely impassible due to ice build-up when we are here in the winter months. A nice motivation to make that last downhill descent and climb back up on the return leg of the hike is a small ravine that runs alongside the road in that area. There are a couple of houses towards the turn-around point, and a new post-and-beam house is going up along the road as well. There is one spot along the route where the view opens up across open fields to the south and hikers are rewarded with views of the distant peaks.

On today’s hike the group made it to the intersection with 76 Rd inside of Tompkins County before turning around and re-tracing our steps.

On today’s hike the group had a new hiker Caroline with us. Caroline is a journalism student at Ithaca College and came on the hike to interview members of the group on our views about preserving green space for the future generations. A completed video product including our interviews will be released via an on-campus source in the future. I’ll be sure to send out a link of that video to the group after I receive it.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers October 30 – November 5

Wednesday, November 1

Lime Hollow Nature Center

Hiker report by Jim

Nineteen hikers met in Cortland County for a hike of the Lime Hollow Nature Center trails, hike # 37 on our list of regular hike locations:

The day was cool with light breezes as the group gathered in the parking lot on Gracie Rd, a dusting of snow on the ground remaining from the overnight low temperatures. Hikers initially set off in a westerly direction on the Lehigh Valley Trail, before turning onto the Hawthorne Connector (currently undergoing a re-route ) and completing a circuit of the High Vista Loop. Returning to the Lehigh Valley trail we quickly turned onto Hermits Way and then Fen Way, which took the group in a circle back to the Lehigh Valley Trail. Here the group encountered a fairy large group of school kids , the only other people we saw during our hike today. Returning to Gracie Rd the group continued on the Lehigh Valley Trail in an easterly direction until we reached Maple Run. The group hiked to the Chicago Bog, paused briefly for some photos, and continued on the Philips Memorial Trail to the lower parking lot on Gracie Rd. From there we took the Esker Connector back to Maple Run, then back to the Lehigh Valley Trail and our cars. As we arrived back at the cars a light snow began to fall; despite ending a few minutes early I heard no complaints from the hikers.

Photo by Jim

Saturday, November 4

Buttermilk Fall State Park

Hiker report by Jim

Twenty-eight hikers met on Yaple Rd in the Town of Danby for a hike of trails around Upper Buttermilk Falls State Park. This location is hike 10-2 on the list of our regular hike locations:

This was a re-attempt of an earlier hike this summer which had been rained out soon after we started that hike; my intent today was to simply re-do the planned route of the earlier hike, which would have had the group circling Lake Treman and visiting the La Tourelle trail along the way. Unsurprisingly we found that the website for Buttermilk Falls State Park was not updated and while it showed that all trails were still open, this was not the case. Entering the park via the FLT spur trail the group paused at the dam for a group photo. Since the path across the dam was now seasonally closed I re-routed the group to the Bear Trail and upon reaching West King Rd we did a partial loop of the Gorge and Rim Trails. Returning to upper Buttermilk Falls State Park the group road walked back to the Treman Lake Trail and returned to Yaple Rd. We ran into numerous other park patrons along our route; the warm weather and dry trail conditions added to the hike being an enjoyable fall morning for everyone compared to the last hike here.

A warm welcome to Eric, Arlene and Michael on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim

Sunday, November 5

Hammond Hill State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-eight hikers and two dogs met on the paved portion of Canaan Rd, just over the county line in Tioga County, for a loop hike of some of the Hammond Hill State Forest trails. This was hike 31-2 on our list of regular hike locations: .

The day was a little overcast, and throughout the hike we were getting small amounts of precipitation and wind. Still, overall, an enjoyable morning to be on the trail. From the parking area the group did a loop of the Rabbit Run snowmobile trail, followed by multi-use trails blue 1, yellow 6 and 7, with yellow 8 trail thrown in as a quick out-and-back last-minute addition to burn up some time. We had the trails to ourselves except for one bicyclist we encountered along the way. Trail conditions were excellent. The group got back to our cars about ten minutes sooner than expected.

Welcome to Chuck, Andrew and Andrew’s canine hiking partner Porsche, on their first hike with the group!

Photos by Leigh Ann