Report to Hikers December 4- December 10

Wednesday, December 6

FLT along Wilseyville Creek

Hike report by Jim

Fifteen hikers met on White Church Rd for a hike of the FLT. Everything in the area; the ground, tree limbs, etc, was covered with a fresh untouched thin layer snowfall from the previous evening. Temps were cool and the air was clear, with good views of the surrounding forested hills in the far distance.

The group crossed White Church Rd and entered the FLT footpath,  hiking towards Wilseyville Creek, the trail briefly crossing an open field before it reaches the tree line. Just as we entered the woods the sun came out from behind cloud cover and bathed everything in our area in what seemed like pure white. The crystalline structure of the top layer of snowflakes seemed to gleam around the hikers with a special brilliance. The ground underfoot had not frozen and in places there was a thin layer of semi-solid mud hiding underneath the fresh snow, but this only presented a potential hazard on the very slight hilly areas the trail traverses.

Reaching the first turn onto the new section of recently re-routed FLT, the group turned in a southerly direction. Here the snow-covered trees with the sun filtering through the leafless branches overhead seemed to created a tunnel of light surrounded by only slightly shadowed trees. I’m not sure if the photos do this visual effect justice.

Photo by Jim

The group walked to the end of White Church Rd where it meets Coddington Rd, before we turned around and followed the former railbed back along Wilseyville Creek until we reached Ridgeway Rd. By now the sun overhead was again under cloud cover, but we were treated to the hillsides in the distance still being lit up in sunlit brilliance. The group again reversed direction, walking south until again meeting the intersection that would take hikers back through the woods and across the fields to our cars. We arrived at the parking area about ten minutes earlier than I had planned, but overall it was a spectacular hike.

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

Photo by Jim

Saturday, December 9

The Pinnacles

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-three hikers and one dog met at the junction of Bald Hill and Station Roads in the Town of Danby for a hike to the Pinnacles and surrounding area trails. This is hike # 19-A on our list of regular hike locations:

Most of the hunters I saw in the area were loading up and leaving prior to the arrival of most of our group. The day was sunny and cool with moderate breezes, overall a good hiking day. None of the rain or snow that we’ve experienced on recent hikes!

The group set off down the seasonal portion of Bald Hill Rd, climbing the hill as the road travelled in a southerly direction. The group turned westerly on the Abbott Loop, climbing somewhat more sharply as the trail drew closer to the Pinnacles overlook area. The view from the Pinnacles was a little hazy but still very enjoyable, especially with the summer view-obstructing vegetation now absent. Beyond the overlook the Loop trail crosses the peak before descending back to Bald Hill Rd. From Bald Hill Rd the group split into two groups; a smaller subset of hikers preferred to do the old out-and-back hike where they returned to the Pinnacles and from there back to the cars. As I prefer a loop hike I led the remainder of the group north of Bald Hill Rd to rejoin the Abbott Loop and take that to the Dove Trail back to our cars. There was a minor water crossing for my loop hikers, but nothing too remarkable. The loop hiking sub-group returned to our cars about fifteen minutes early, while the out-and -back sub-group joined us at the cars at exactly the two-hour mark.

Welcome to Hongli, Sean, Tom and Dorothea on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim
Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, December 10

Forest Home Hike

Hike report by Jim

Eleven hikers and one dog met in the parking lot of the Mundy Wildflower Preserve at the corner of Caldwell Rd and Forest Home Drive, for a multi-loop hike of the trails available in the area. This is hike # 4B on our list of regular hike locations:

There was a steady drizzle through much of today’s hike, with some chilly temperatures that hint of the lower temperatures forecast for this afternoon into the overnight hours. Other than a few joggers and a couple of day hikers, we had the entire hike route to ourselves today.

The hike started with a quick loop through the Mundy Wildflower Garden, Cornell University. Part of that gardens trails remain closed, so it was a very quick loop that shadowed Fall Creek briefly before looping towards Judd Falls Rd.

Exiting the Wildflower Gardens, we entered the grounds of the Nevin Welcome Center long enough to reach Forest Home Drive. The group walked to Sackett Bridge and then turned on to the trail to Hemlock Gorge. The water was flowing quite well in all of the waterways we hiked around today, the cascades at some points so deafening that you had to speak up to be heard. Completing the Hemlock Gorge loop (several deer were sheltering on the ridge there above the falls, and I’m not sure whether the hikers or the deer were more startled at the appearance of the other group) hikers walked to the Sampson Trail and followed that trail along Beebe Lake until we crossed the Triphammer footbridge.

Our group continued on the southerly shore of Beebe Lake, returning to Forest Home Drive which we followed into the hamlet of Forest Home. It didn’t take long to exit the other side of Forest Home near our cars; as we still had a lot of time left on the hike, I opted to enter the Newman Arboretum and hike some of the footpaths there that follow the easterly leg of Forest Home Drive. We passed through the War Memorial, Treman Woods and other display areas until we reached the Morgan-Smith Trail. We eventually turned around and walked the Arboretums paved roads back to our cars.

Welcome to Chen on her first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim

Report to Hikers November 27-December 3

Wednesday, November 29

Fillmore Glen State Park

Hike report by Nancy L.

 Fourteen hikers and a single dog met in the parking area of Fillmore Glen State Park in the village of Moravia, Cayuga County, for a hike of the trail system there. This is hike 14-2 on our list of regular hike locations:

Nancy L and Jeff V led the hike.  For this hike I (Nancy) planned to hike the rim trails.  The trickiest part was finding a way from the parking lot to the North rim trail since it required crossing a bridge over the creek.  Many of the bridges were closed.  Jeff guided us over to a stone bridge behind the visitors center.   There was a long climb up the North side.  The woods was nice but there is no view of the gorge along its length.  However near the top of the North Rim trail, there is a new waterfall loop which allowed us to see one of the best waterfalls in the gorge. After we completed the loop we continued hiking a little farther to the top end of the trail where we hiked along the edge of a dam and a small reservoir to reach the South rim.  At this point we used a park road for a distance.  We finally reached a trail back through the woods and proceeded along it with good views through the leafless trees.  After arriving at a picnic pavilion we made our way carefully down a  stone staircase back to our cars.

Photo by Nancy L.
Photo by Randy
Photo by Greg
Photo by Patricia

View a photo album by Randy, Nancy and Pat Fratangelo.

Saturday, December 2

Sapsucker Woods, Lab of Ornithology

Hike report by Jim

Thirty-one hikers met at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on Sapsucker Woods Rd for a hike of the trails there. This is hike # 62 on our list of regular hike locations:

The sky was overcast with nearly 100% cloud cover, but other than a very short time during the hike when we had a few drops of rain, it was good hiking weather. We generally only come to these trails during hunting season when so many of our other trail options are unavailable, and since our last hike here they’ve opened some new loops on the easterly side of their property. New map here:…/07/TrailMap_May2023.pdf .

The visitor center is closed until spring 2024 for renovations, so we weren’t able to include a visit there as part of todays hike. We started with a generally counter-clockwise route of the outer trails, starting at the visitor center, with brief stops at observation points for the various ponds along the way. Crossing Sapsucker Woods Rd we continued in a counter-clockwise direction, merging into the new trails which we found primarily pass through some nice open field areas. The open field paths were quite water-logged compared to the older trails, and we ended up by-passing one entire loop on the lower section of the new trails as a result. Returning to the older trails the group stopped briefly at the Goldsworthy egg cairn before continuing on. Returning to the westerly side of Sapsucker Woods Rd, we took the inner ring of trails back to the visitor center, where we took a few minutes to observe the various sculptures and the wildlife in the ponds. From there we walked back to the cars, getting there about ten minutes early. That will be corrected once the visitor center re-opens or we’re able to work up a better route within the circuit of trails.

Welcome to Paul, Isaac and Nate on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim
Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

View Cian Chambliss’s photo album.

Sunday, December 3

Dryden Rail Trail

Hike report by Jim

Nine hikers braved the elements to meet in the Kenny Van Sickle ballfield parking lot in the Village of Dryden for a hike of the Dryden Rail Trail between Dryden and Freeville. This is hike #49A on our list of regular hike locations: .

The entire hike was done in a downpour, although the precipitation volume did lessen a couple of times along the way. Views across the valley from George Road were atmospheric and misty. The path underfoot was saturated and often pools of water that we found ourselves slogging through. Path-side ditches were alive with small streams of rainwater.

As I walked the rail trail I noticed that I was surrounded by hundreds of glistening beads of water that lay suspended on the branches and the tan shoots of last summer’s dead weeds that still stood along the path. The hikers were a mix of colors from their rain gear. We had the path to ourselves with the exception of one cluster of bicyclists who passed our group at one time. This path often has too much road noise for my liking, but I have found that early Sunday mornings are the exception, as the volume of traffic on near-by roads is diminished. The weather today must have kept even more people indoors, as traffic was minimal. The group walked to the Village of Freeville and turned around and re-traced our route without incident.

Photo by Jim

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

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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.