The Future of Weekly Hike Reports

For those who receive their news about the group through our WordPress site and aren’t on either our email list, our Meetup page or our Facebook group, I’m putting out the following information for your awareness.

Nancy H is ending her role of publishing the weekly post-hike reports that she’s been responsible for since Stephen and Susan stepped down from leading the group ( thank you Nancy for your dedication to this task! ). Nancy has asked that I forward the following message about having someone else take over that responsibility. If no one steps forward to take over, the weekly hike reports will cease. Individual hike leaders may still post post-hike reports on Meetup and Facebook, but the weekly reports will stop. Nancy’s message follows:

“Due to increased family responsibilities, I can no longer compile the weekly hike reports. So, we need one or more volunteers to step forward and take over this task.

Here’s how the process works: Each week, hike leaders write up their reports and email them to me. I also receive photos of hikes via email. In WordPress, I create a new post and copy/paste the reports, then add the relevant photos. Next, I publish the post to our Ithaca Hikers website. When the post is published, it also goes out to everyone who’s subscribed to the hike reports.

You don’t need to be a WordPress expert to post the reports. If you’re interested, I can teach you the basics. If you can help, please get in touch with Jim and/or with me at


Nancy H.”

In Memory of Steve Hesse, Long Time Co-leader of the Ithaca Hikers

Those of you who are on the email list know by now that Steve Hesse, the former co-leader of Ithaca Hikers for sixteen years, passed away on Monday after an illness.

I spoke to Susan on Tuesday. She reports that there will be no services. Steve is being cremated and Susan will be interring the ashes with a tree she is planting. Given Steves years of enjoying the groups hikes on our many miles of area trails, something tells me that he would enjoy that very much.

Susan requests that any donations in Steves memory be made to either the Cayuga Trails Club or Hospicecare.

I came into the group just a few short years ago, well into Steve and Susans tenure as group leaders. Many of the “ Steve-isms”…the frequent  “YO!” he would bellow out to the group, the cantankerous complaining to hikers as he would herd us all together for a photo, or stop us in position so he could get his “ actions shots”…were well established by the time I started sharing a footpath with the Ithaca Hikers. I have many fond memories of hiking with Steve on some trail, somewhere in the conga line of hikers that was stretched out behind Susan who was invariably at the head of the pack. Our conversations covered a wide range of topics, rarely in any predictable orderly fashion. Conversations on hikes could be like that.

Steve and Susan took a casual group of friends who would meet for an occasional and informal exploration of local trails  ( see illustrated history of the Ithaca Hikers – ithacahikers ) and slowly expanded the nascent groups activities to regular once weekly hikes, then to twice a week and finally three regular, well-planned and dependable hikes a week by the time they stepped away from their leadership responsibilities. Under the Hesse’s leadership the group not only hiked; its members frequently opened their doors to the rest of the group for social events, or came together for social gatherings in public venues. Steve and Susan were instrumental in setting up the Ithaca Hikers website that we still use today. Before they stepped down the Hesse’s continued to steer the group through the early dark days of Covid, when hiking with a few friends in the outdoors became the sole social outlet available to many of us. When they passed the hike planning duties over to me Steve and Susan made sure to accompany me on many of the early hikes I led to ensure that I was comfortable with the route we would be taking. It would have been equally as easy for them to simply hand over the group to me and run for the door, but they didn’t do that.

I am sure that there are many area hikers with their own personal memories of Steve in his tenure as group co-leader. If you would like to send me stories of your recollections of Steve, we will include them in a post on the website

I wont be posting Susans address, phone number or email publicly on the website. If any past or present members of the hiking community need that information, please reach out to me privately.

Jim R

Ithaca Hiker Stephanie Zerilli


For those of you who aren’t on my hike email list and who haven’t joined the group on a hike in the last week, I wanted to post about the recent passing of long time Ithaca Hiker Stephanie Zerilli.

Prior to the group bringing in people through resources like our Meetup page we tended to get many of our new hikers through word-of-mouth and referrals from current hikers. I came to the group through Stephanie suggesting that I join this Ithaca Hikers hiking group she was a member of. I worked with Stephanie during my relatively short time with the Village of Dryden where Stephanie was employed in the records division of the village police department.

It wasn’t long after I joined the group that Stephanie was first diagnosed with cancer. She stepped away from Ithaca Hikers for a while as she dealt with that initial diagnosis. Stephanie always seemed positive in her outlook about beating the cancer; I was happy to hear that the early treatments were successful, the cancer was in remission and she was eventually able to both return to work and resume hiking with the group.

Unfortunately the cancer later returned, with the result that we have recently lost Stephanie far too early. She was a good friend and a welcome companion on the trail. She will be missed by all of us in the group who knew her during that time.

Stephanies calling hours and service are this Thursday in the village of Groton. Information for calling hours and the memorial service is at the obituary link below.

Stephanie Zerilli Obituary – Ithaca Journal

Hiking Locations in Hunting Season Fall 2022

A cut-and-paste compilation of hiking locations from the Cayuga Trails Club.

NY State Parks
Our local state parks allow bow, but not gun hunting.
Cornell Botanic Gardens Arboretum, Park Park, Beebe Lake
Monkey Run & Fall Creek Natural Areas
Includes the Cayuga Trail and other trails in these areas. Bowhunting allowed.
Campbell Meadows
Cornell Lab of Ornithology trails
Palmer Woods Natural Area
Ithaca College Natural Lands
South Hill Recreation Way
Six Mile Creek Natural Area (including Mulholland Wildflower Preserve)
Cayuga Waterfront Trail; Lighthouse Point; Renwick Wild Woods
City of Ithaca Cemetery Walk
Some Finger Lakes Land Trust Preserves
Steege Hill (near Big Flats) and the Roy H. Park Preserve; see complete list here
Jim Schug Trail & CBG Pervis Road Wetlands Natural Area
Black Diamond Trail
Cayuga Nature Center
Cascadilla Gorge & Cascadilla Meadows Natural Areas
Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve
Durland Preserve/CBG Hirshfeld Memorial Natural Area
East Ithaca Recreation Way (including Cascadilla Natural Area)
Eldridge Wilderness Preserve
Dotson Park (Danby)
Greensprings Natural Cemetery (Newfield)
Lime Hollow

NY State Forests; NY Wildlife Management Areas; Finger Lakes National Forest
All of these are open to all forms of hunting, including guns, subject to the dates shown above.
Most Off-Campus Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Natural Areas
If gun hunting is allowed, trails are closed during those dates. More information on the types of hunting allowed and whether trails are closed can
be found at this link.
Many Finger Lakes Land Trust Preserves
Information on individual preserves and closures due to gun hunting can be found at the FLLT website.
Dryden Rail Trail
Much of the trail crosses private land where hunting is controlled by the landowner. Thus, during the Regular Firearms and Muzzleloaders seasons,
gun-hunting may be taking place along the Rail Trail.

Edit: Missing Ithaca Hiker found


Ben’s parents have updated me and advise that Ben has been found in Pennsylvania and is receiving care there. No further information available at this time. Thanks!

Ben Bleier, who has been hiking with the Ithaca Hikers and is also a member of the Ithaca Outdoor Adventure Club on Meetup, has been unaccounted for since he was last seen in Ithaca on Tuesday.

Ben lives in Ithaca with his parents, who I have spoken to on the phone this morning.

The missing persons case is being investigated by the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office

At this point Ben’s parents are asking that hikers be on the lookout for Ben while they are  hiking; if he is seen on the trail or around trailheads please contact the county dispatch center at 607-272-2444 and refer to case S22-11107.

Ben drives a white 2017 Subaru Forester, NY reg HWZ2017

Thanks for any assistance you might be able to give