Report to Hikers January 8-January 14

Wednesday, January 10

Dryden Rail Trail vicinity of Monkey Run

Hike report by Jim

Eighteen hikers and a single dog met on the unnamed solar farm road off of Stevenson Rd ( near Dodge Rd ) for a walk of the Dryden Rail Trail and Monkey Run area sections of the Cayuga Trail. This is hike # 49B on our list of regular hike locations:

Right away we ran into one issue, as since our last hike here someone has seen fit to sign one side of the solar farm access road (the side we normally park on) as no parking, while the other IS marked as rail trail parking but could be an issue for weekend hikes here for the group due to limited parking on that side. I’ve contacted Cornell Uni PD for some clarification on who has towing authority on that section of road. One side is the Game Farm, while I’m not sure if Cornell controls the solar farm side of the road. I’ll let hikers know what I find out.

On today’s hike temps were warm, which meant that the snow from recent days was actively melting and turning to slush. The Cayuga Trails sections we navigated were quite muddy and slippery, although safe enough if hiked with care. The Rail Trail sections were a mix of bare ground, standing water or slushy snow.

The group encountered three blow downs between the trailhead and Monkey Run Road, one serious enough that we had to enter private property along the trail to navigate the blowdown. The attached photo of Leigh Ann and the last blowdown was the smallest of the three.

Photo by Jim

Crossing over Monkey Run Road the group continued on the Cayuga Trail until we returned to the Dryden Rail Trail which we walked to Route 13. Due to conditions I scrapped my plan to make a loop on the Cayuga Trail and opted for a return to the cars via the Rail Trail.

On the return leg of the hike, I spoke to a heavy equipment operator who was busy tearing up an open field near the FH Fox bridge (the field where we were chased by a skunk last year) . He advised that the project entails the construction of yet another apartment complex. At least one of our hikers tried to put a positive spin on the construction by saying that residents there will have a hiking trail outside their back doors, but I do hate to see more open land near trails built on.

Warm welcome to Jean on her first hike with the group!

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, January 13

Texas Hollow

Hike report by Casey C

I believe we had 22 hikers and two dogs. A few of the hikers showed up just as the train was leaving the station, but they knew their way. This was an out and back hike with the optional blue loop on the way back. Just 4 of us made it all the way to Newtown Road and we were just seven minutes beyond the stated turnaround time of one hour in.

The trail was wet, sloppy, and muddy on the flatter early part of the hike. As we gained elevation, the trail became quite snow covered and extra slippery. None of us had spikes because it was 42 and muddy where we started.

In fact at higher elevation the trail was slippery enough that I had what I thought was a rather spectacular crash on the way down the hill. Fortunately I somehow escaped real injury aside from some bumps and bruises.

The front pack managed 5.32 miles with 879’ of elevation gain and we did take the optional blue route loop on the way back.

It was a fun hike with weather that improved as the hike went on.

Photo by Mark Sussman

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, January 14

Van Lone Loop

Hike report by Casey C

We did what I call the Van Lone Loops because we split into two different groups with one group of ten doing the complete loop at 6.04 miles and 938 feet of elevation gain. And the other group of 5 and one dog, led by Nancy L. doing a shorter version which included some special variations that might have made it about as long as the regular loop.

Either way the shorter version group got back just a little before us, and we got back at about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Both groups encountered quite a snow squall just as we crested the first set of serious hills. Otherwise the conditions were, muddy in some places, icy in others and sometimes both. I was happy that I wore the spikes that I should have worn the day before. Given the amount of rain we have had recently, all of the stream and creek crossings were a bit of a challenge. I believe Leigh Ann won the competition for most falls including a good one before the hike even started.

Given the challenges it still looked like a lot of smiles on hikers’ faces.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers January 1-January 7

Monday, January 1

Taughannock Falls State Park

*This is a special hike event-FIRST DAY HIKE.*

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Wednesday, January 3

Eberhard Nature Preserve

Hike report by Casey

21 hikers and one dog met at the Codington Road parking lot at the Eberhard Preserve.

This hike in this direction starts out going up a serious hill in the very beginning. This hill is step enough that it actually seemed steeper and tougher on the way back down. Only special hills carry that distinction.

My plan was to go one hour,ten minutes and turn around but at one hour five minutes the muddy section suggested we had gone far enough. So we turned around and I got back to the cars five minutes early as the others were smart enough to exercise a little more caution on their way back down the steep hill.

We managed 4.28 miles with 905 feet of elevation gain.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, January 6

FLT from Comfort Rd

Hike report by Casey

We started with maybe 25 hikers or so. I think there was also one dog.

This seems like a relatively flat hike but as you cross a series of ravines you end up with about 500 feet of elevation gain. This hike is often quite muddy, yet today it was cold enough to stiffen up that mud and I was glad I had my spikes on. I even had a chance to appreciate them on a small section of good clean solid ice.

Being a simple out and back hike we all had the chance to go at our own pace and turn around one hour in. The lead pack went past the quarry and turned around at Bruce Hill Road for a total distance of 5.51 miles in 2 hours.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, January 7

Ct Hill Homesteads Loop

This hike was cancelled due to weather conditions.

Report to Hikers December 25-December 31

Wednesday, December 27

Arnot Teaching Forest Roadwalk Hike

Hike report by Jim

Twelve people met at the North Gate of Arnot Teaching and Research Forest for a road walk hike of part of the Forest. This is hike # 52 on our list of regular hike locations:

The day was extremely foggy (very atmospheric) and damp but still cool and enjoyable hiking weather. The group set off on Irish Hill Rd from the North Gate, which is generally a slight uphill grade and a good way to warm up. Reaching the intersection with Banfield Rd we turned onto that road, which soon became a slight roller coaster of up and downhill sections.

The fog persisted throughout the hike, so a view or two along this section I recall from previous hikes here were denied to the group today.

Reaching Station Rd the group turned onto that road, walking a short ways to some nearby ponds which we walked around and photographed until it was time to return to our cars.

As the group drew closer to our vehicles a slight drizzle of rain started, a good timing for a hike to end if I had ever seen one!

Saturday, December 30

Connecticut Hill Saddle and Pond Loop

Hike report by Dave Bock

What a gang! 36 hikers and 2 dogs showed up on Connecticut Hill for Hank’s memorial hike.

A layer of snow and some early fog highlighted the beauty of the forest. Recent rains meant the trails were wet (even muddy in spots). Nonetheless, the group was game as we trekked about 4.5 miles through varied woods, with a quick side trip to large pond. In the hardwoods, the ground sported a veneer of snow. In the denser hemlocks, the trees were frosted with white. Our route took us along parts of 10 trails, mostly unmarked though made more obvious than usual, appearing as a stripe of leaves bisecting the snow.

With no serious climbing necessary, we were able to move along smoothly, stopping only briefly from time to time to make sure all were accounted for. We emerged in just over 2 hours, and without any losses. Whew!!

Photo by Dave

Sunday, December 31

Owl Creek Trail Buttermilk Falls State Park

Hike report by Casey

Well, this is the last hike I am going to do with this darn group……..This year.

The scheduled hike was supposed to be on the Owl Trail in Buttermilk Falls State Park. The hike leader was under the weather and I was asked to fill in. But I didn’t really give a hoot about doing the Owl Trail, so I decided we would tackle the Rim Trail from Lower Buttermilk to Upper buttermilk and beyond.

We started with 27 hikers and two dogs with the instruction that this would be an out and back hike giving everyone the opportunity to go at their own pace, and turn around after one hour ten minutes from wherever you are at that point.

We took the Rim trail to Upper Buttermilk, where we picked up the Bear Trail and took that to the Treman Lake Trail which got nine of us all the way to the far end of the lake at exactly the right time to turn around and head back. I arrived back at the cars at the two hour mark having hiked 4.67 miles. Which by the way puts me at 578.71 miles for this year. More that 500 of those miles were with the Ithaca Hikers.

See you on a hike next year,


Photo by Nancy H.

Report to Hikers December 18-December 24

Wednesday, December 20

Kingsbury Woods

Hike report by Jim

Fifteen hikers and a single dog met in the Town of Danby for a hike of the Kingsbury Woods Preserve. This has been hike #46 on our list of hike locations: .

Although after today I will be moving this hike to our short hikes list ( edit: change made. Hike 46 is now a breakdown of Dave Bs CT hill Hikes. Look for the KIngsbury Woods Preserve hike under the compiled “shorter hikes ” list of Hike #67) due to the trail system here being too short to be able to hike a full two hours. On our past hikes in this preserve we were still a little early by the end of our hikes, but today’s hike was VERY abbreviated for time.

The group did two complete circuits of the single trail loop in the preserve. The trail initially follows the upper end of Lick Brook before turning into the woods where it crosses the stream a couple of times and follows the property line along some open fields before returning on itself. Since our last time here there have been some efforts to re-route the trail away from some muddy sections and to place some large rocks along the footpath in other muddy sections. After returning to the road we crossed to the preserve property on the other side of the road and walked the ridgeline before bushwhacking along some open fields on that side of the road.

Warm welcome to Jesse on his first hike with the group!

Photo by Leigh Ann

Saturday, December 23

Cayuga Nature Center

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-five hikers and no dogs (today’s location allows no companion animal hikers) arrived at the Houghton Rd parking lot for a hike of the Cayuga Nature Center trail system.

This is hike # 45 on our list of regular hike locations :

The group set off across the open fields towards the Nature Center buildings, arriving first at the animal enclosures. One of those looked to be a fairly new replacement structure, and almost all of the cages were occupied.

The day was overcast throughout the hike; I didn’t see the sun come out at all. There was a short moment where we had a few rain drops fall on us but there was no actual rain.

The group hiked around to the front of the building and completed a couple of the trail loops found on Nature Center property. Other than some muddy footpath sections of the Wilderness Loop and some of the on-going blazing issues we’ve found here before, there were no issues.

On our way back to the cars the group stopped at the treehouse and a few hikers took a minute to explore the layout of that building.

As we still had a few minutes to use up the group hiked out and back on the Black Diamond Trail to use up our remaining hike time.

Welcome to Anne on her first hike with the group!

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, December 24

 Forest Home at suspension bridge

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-one hikers and two dogs met on Forest Home Drive at Flat Rock for a loop hike of various Cayuga Trail options in the area. This is hike 4-A on our list of regular hike locations:

The day was generally overcast and cooler, although the weather remained very tolerable hiking conditions throughout our hike.

The hikers set off across Stevens suspension bridge and turned westerly, hiking along the northerly bank of Fall Creek before turning to scale the hills leading up to the greens of the Robert Trent Jones golf course. Once on the greens the group followed the res stakes around the course perimeter until we reached the horse barns in the vicinity of Bluegrass Lane. Our normal route through the barns is still closed off due to on-going construction, so we doubled back to the golf course and took another trail that follows a perimeter fence along the horse fields until we reached another section of the Cayuga Trail system. Here we followed the orange blazed trails along the high bluffs before turning and making our way down to the trails that run along the banks of Fall Creek.

Returning to the suspension bridge we paused briefly while some hikers in the group opted to leave early, with the remaining people following the creek-level blue blazed trail along the southerly bank of Fall Creek. The blue blazed trails circle back to Forest Home Drive, which we crossed over and completed a loop back to our cars using some of the trails located just outside of the Arboretum. Hoping that all Ithaca Hikers have a good Holiday week and see you all on a hike soon!

I would also like to take a moment and note the passing this week of long-time Ithaca Hiker Henry “ Hank” Spencer.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers December 11-December 17

Wednesday, December 13

Taughannock Falls State Park

Hike report by Mark S.

Twenty-four hikers and one dog met on Rice Rd in the Town of Ulysses for a hike that is new to the group, led by Ithaca Hiker Mark S. This hike is not currently listed on our regular hike locations list. See the TFSP trail map here:

The views on the hike were great and temps were cool – perfect for hiking.

The hike started at the top of the Rice Road sledding hill. Mark led the group on a circuitous route along the multi-use trails around Rice Rd and down to the bottom of the sledding hill. The next section of the route included some nice trail sections with beautiful mature trees that ran in and along various ravine and streams.

The route eventually led us to the Falls overlook on Taughannock Park Rd. The group then headed west on the North Rim Trail to the old railroad bridge that links the north and south rim trails. There was plenty of water flowing over the falls! Crossing Jacksonville Rd we did an out-and-back hike of the new Cataract Trail, which ends at the old Grassroots campground off of Agard Road. The group then turned around and returned to the rim trail. From there we picked up another section of the multi-use trails that took the group back to our cars on Rice Rd right on time.

Map of the hike courtesy of Nancy Lorr:

Photo by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, December 16

Stewart Park to Farmers Market

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-two hikers and two dogs met in Stewart Park for a flat hike out to the Farmers Market (on its last Saturday of the fall season) and back again. This is hike # 53-2 on our list of regular hike locations: .

The morning was a good one, with unseasonably warm temperatures and a hazy but nice view up the lake as hikers arrived.

The group left the parking lot and made a quick circle around the old swan pond, picking up a couple of late-arriving hikers along the way. We stopped for a quick group photo and continued on, crossing the first suspension bridge and entering the Renwick Wildwood / Fuertes Bird sanctuary trail system:

This was a quick loop, with the group returning to the second suspension bridge that crosses Fall Creek in just a few minutes walking time.

Crossing the suspension bridge we circled the edge of the golf course, walking out to Lighthouse Point to check out the views from there. Returning to solid land we continued onwards, circling the golf course and walking the graveled paths along Willow Ave behind some of the new construction that was a little better than our usual asphalt walking on past hikes here.

Crossing the footbridge near Willow Ave and State Route 13 we walked to the Farmers Market, which we found to be well under way and crowded with patrons. The hikers drifted around the Market, most of us buying a drink or food product along our way.

On the return leg of our journey the larger group broke up into smaller sub-groups of hikers, each sub-group finding its way back to Stewart Park and our vehicles at their own pace.

Warm welcome to James and Jody on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim
Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Photo by Cian

View Cian’s photo album.

Sunday, December 17

FLT from Schuyler County Vets Park to Gulf Rd

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-one hikers and one dog met at the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park  for a hike of the FLT in the area. This is hike # 66 on our list of regular hike locations:

This is a mostly flat hike that’s good as a hunting season option when other sections of trails are unavailable to the group.

The day was cloudy and overcast, a big change from just the day before when the group had hiked to the Farmers Market.

The FLT leaves the park in a mostly southeasterly direction, travelling through minor wooded areas on private property until arriving at Route 6. Crossing Route 6 to reach Gulf Rd, it’s only a short road walk to where the FLT continues along a nice section of stream. The stream at this upper end is very slow moving, but as the trail continues to the southeast the cascades start in the water as the trail rises and falls above the stream level.

The group encountered a couple of easily by-passed blow down trees and met a couple of day hikers or dog walkers on this section of the route. Otherwise we had the trail to ourselves.

At the hour turn-around time we reached the location of the former wooden bridge that collapsed a year or two; some of its disassembled bones still remain on site awaiting removal.

The group paused for a quick photo, and then Casey took the lead and re-traced our route, getting the group back to the cars on time with around five miles hiked on this route.

Photo by Leigh Ann
Photo by Greg

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.