Report to Hikers October 16 – October 22

Wednesday October 18

Watkins Glen State Park

Hike report by Nancy L.

Seventeen hikers met where the Finger Lakes Trail crosses Whites Hollow Road and there is a blocked access road to the park, called Punch Bowl Road. The FLT follows Punch Bowl Road a short distance and then cuts off toward a feeder creek to Watkins Glen gorge. 

A short distance along the trail, we came to a nice pond, probably the Punch Bowl. In that spot is a large, enticing, but seemingly unused, pavilion.  From there we followed the Finger Lakes Trail along the creek. Shortly beyond the pavilion, there is a tall sheer dam with a waterfall.  

A bit later, the trail joins up with an old dirt road that proceeds gradually downhill. It passes under a very tall and impressive railroad bridge. 

From there, we proceeded more steeply downhill until we reached a stairway down to a bridge over the Watkins Glen Gorge to the Gorge Trail. There was time to explore a long stretch of the gorge and its dramatic geology.  

On the way back, we were able to return to the cars more quickly by taking the roadlike portion of the FLT and then staying on various parts of the Punch Bowl Road until we were back at our starting point.

Photos by Nancy L. and Randy

View Nancy and Randy’s photo album.

Saturday October 21

Shindagin Hollow State Forest, Brooktondale

No report was submitted for this hike.

Photo by Jack V.

Sunday October 22

Kennedy State Forest

Hike report by Jim

This was the first time the Ithaca Hikers have taken this particular route in Kennedy State Forest, so prior to Sunday morning there was no number assigned to this hike on our hikes list. Since getting home I’ve added it to our hikes page as hike #40-5.

Fourteen hikers and a dog met on the seasonal portion of Owego Hill Road in Kennedy State Forest, for a loop hike on a very rainy and windy day. I warned the group ahead of the hike that, based on my prehike of the route on Saturday afternoon, I expected the hike to run over our normal two-hour duration by about 15 minutes.

Starting from where the Spanish Loop turns back into the woods after a long road walk section, the group travelled downhill, making a stream crossing and following the stream for a while before starting a fairly prolonged uphill section. After that initial climb, the path mostly levels off as it winds through a mix of hardwoods and pines. The Spanish Loop crosses a utility right-of-way and an old logging road or two, which breaks you out of the woods and gives a brief view of the sky and surrounding area.

On today’s hike, we passed by a couple of springs and bivouac sites at various points, indicated by signage placed by trail creator/ maintainers Alex and Michelle Gonzalez. The trail displays some of the attention to detail that Alex and Michelle are known for, such as short stone walls lining the trails or chairs situated at critical points so that solitary hikers can pause to rest or enjoy the views in their journey through the woods.

The Spanish Loop weaves its way through some nice sections of forest and passes by the end of the new Ukraine Loop. Continuing to the FLT, we turned west, crossing over Owego Hill Road again and continuing on the FLT for a fairly long descent.

Here, the FLT again loops through some nice sections of woods as it follows a stream, and crosses one or two intersecting trails that lead to other parts of Kennedy forest. Despite the persistent and fluctuating volume of rain, hikers at various times noted the silence we were experiencing in the woods (other than the hum of conversation in the line of hikers).

We reached the other end of the Ukraine Loop, which is a 1.1 mile mix of uphill and switchbacks and more woodsy walks through the forest along streams and through logging roads. The group took the Ukraine Loop back to Owego Hill Road. This put us within a 10-15 minute road walk back to our cars and the end of the hike.

Overall, trail conditions were muddier than I had observed on my prehike of the route Saturday afternoon. The steady rain had transformed a few short sections of trail into flowing streams. At various points along the route, the footpath was awash with a variety of colors from the leaves covering the ground.  The route is well blazed.

Despite my early pessimism about going over our usual two-hour hike time, the lead hikers arrived back at their cars at exactly the two-hour mark.

We had the trails to ourselves today; we encoutnered no other hikers along the way.

Thanks to all who showed up for the hike despite the weather! I expect to bring the group back to this hike in the future when better weather conditions prevail.

Photo by Mary Jo

Photos by Leigh Ann

Report to Hikers October 9 – October 15

Wednesday October 11

Finger Lakes National Forest

Hike report by Mark S.

Nineteen hikers and one dog met near Reynoldsville for a loop hike of the Finger Lakes National Forest trails. Two additional hikers showed up late,
and they headed north on the Interloken trail.

This hike is not on our website’s hike list. I chose this hike hoping for peak fall colors, but the colors were rather muted and the day was fairly gloomy under the forest canopy. Temperatures were cool, but hikers warmed up within a few minutes of starting the hike.

I led the group on an entertaining loop combining forest trail and open fields. The views from the fields were somewhat hazy at a distance but still very enjoyable. We had some light but manageable breezes while traversing the open fields, and no rain at all over the duration of the hike.

We did a short out-and-back on the Ravine Trail to Burnt Hill Road. Three hikers extended their hike by continuing on the Ravine Trail loop.

Photo by June

Saturday October 14

Roy H. Park Preserve and Hammond Hill SF

Hike report by Jim

Seventeen hikers met in the north parking lot of the Roy H. Park Preserve for a hike into Hammond Hill State Forest. This is hike #32 on our hike list.

The sky was overcast at the hike’s start. We crossed the boardwalk and entered the forest. In the past, I’ve often found the lower parts of the trail system to be very muddy, but these weren’t in bad shape today. We ascended the hillside, and I noticed some downed trees along the way that are overdue for being removed. I also noticed that, with the freshly fallen leaves obscuring the trail, there is a real shortage of red trail markers in many places between the parking lot and Hammond Hill Road. This was particularly a problem on the return leg of the hike. Although it would be difficult to get seriously lost on this section of trail, the issue should be addressed.

We reached Hammond Hill Road and stopped briefly for a group picture before proceeding with the hike. The climb to Hammond Hill Road had gone very quickly, so Casey C. took over leading the group and we continued onto the Hammond Hill trail system, taking the yellow-blazed trails to the seasonal part of Canaan Road and beyond before turning around.

On the return leg of the hike, light rain started to fall. This turned into a steady rain by the time we’d reached our cars.

We shared the trails today with a good number of runners, dog walkers, and bicyclists.

Sunday October 15

Upper Treman SP, Enfield

Hike report by Jim

The rain fell Sunday until we were just getting our hike underway. Despite the wet morning, 17 hikers and four dogs met on Woodard Road in Enfield, where the Finger Lakes Trail crosses, for a loop hike spliced together from the FLT and several roads and park trails. This is hike #12 on our website. 

Hikers posed for a group photo and then set off on the FLT toward the bridge that crosses Fishkill Creek. Once across the bridge, we took the seasonal portion of Butternut Creek Road to the junction with Van Ostrand Road. When we emerged onto Van Ostrand Road, the sun came out, and the remainder of the hike was an enjoyably sunny day with some light breezes.

We walked Van Ostrand Road until we turned onto Thomas Road, which led us back to Butternut Creek Road and the continuation of the FLT into upper Robert Treman State Park.

In the park, we walked to the Lucifer Falls overlook on the Rim Trail before splitting into two subgroups. The smaller group took the Rim Trail back to upper Treman. Because the stone stairs and the Gorge Trail have not yet closed for the season, this was our last chance to enjoy those parts of the trail system. The larger group of hikers took the stone stairs down to ground level at the base of Lucifer Falls before taking the Gorge Trail back to the upper park.

From the area of the Old Mill, hikers took the CCC trail back to the FLT and from there back to our cars. There were many other hikers on the Gorge Trail, some from distant locations, which surprised me. I stopped to talk to one person from a group of hikers similar in size to our own and learned that they were visiting from Delaware. Other than on the Gorge Trail, though, we didn’t see many other people on this hike.

Photos by Jack V.

Report to Hikers October 2 – October 8

Wednesday October 4

Clark Reservation State Park, Jamesville

Hike report by Steve S.

The day of the hike was the hottest October day ever in Syracuse, and it was also humid. At the start of our hike, 10:00 a.m., it was only in the mid-70s but intensely sunny. The day got hotter and more humid as we hiked.  

First, we visited an immense abandoned quarry on the edge of the state park. Perhaps unwisely, given the heat and the unrelenting sunshine, I led the group in the open around the top of the quarry to an overlook on I-481. 

Fortunately, the rest of the hike was in the shade and went easily and pleasantly. We toured rocky trails and the steep cliffs overlooking the glacial lake at the center of the park. Given the unseasonable heat, we opted for a truncated hike and elected not to go down to the lake. 

The rock ravines and cliffs and trail beds at Clark Reservation are limestone, so they’re quite different from the shale characteristic of the Ithaca area. 

We circled around the many beautiful trails at the park and got back to the parking lot right on time for a typical two-hour hike. 

Photos by Steve S.

Photos by Jim

Saturday October 7

Finger Lakes Trail from Comfort Road through Danby State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Fifteen hikers and a dog met at the junction of Comfort and Bald Hill Roads for an out-and-back hike of the Finger Lakes Trail to Hill Road. This is hike #18 on our list of regular hike locations.

The rain was a steady companion throughout the hike, less noticed under the full leafy canopy but much more obvious on those areas of trail that were open to the sky. The section of trail closer to Comfort Road seemed to be slower in terms of seasonal leaf transformation, with most of the trees still very green. The closer we got to Michigan Hollow Road, the more we could see bare limbs or leaves in their fall colors.

Trail conditions were generally good despite the rain, and we encountered little mud. Stream crossings still had minimal water depth, but the day’s steady rain may have changed that. The main hazard seemed to be the layer of freshly fallen leaves concealing the root and rock hazards beneath them.

Toward the end of the outbound leg, I noticed an interesting effect along the section of trail I was passing through: The newly fallen leaves were spread on the ground around me, and the rain had filled each curled-up leaf to the brim, as if each leaf were a small bowl. It was  a very interesting effect as the light glinted off this mass of small leafy bodies of water.

The return leg of the hike was uneventful; the tempo of the rain seemed to pick up as if to encourage everyone to make their best time getting back to Comfort Road. Almost everyone was happy to arrive back at Comfort Road a few minutes early and climb into their dry cars for their drive home.

We did encounter members of a local running club toward the end of their run in the area, but otherwise we had the trail to ourselves.

Thanks to everyone in the group who came out despite the weather!

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday October 8

O.D. von Engeln Preserve, Northeast Freeville

Hike report by Jim

Thirty-five hikers and three dogs met on West Malloryville Road for a hike of the O.D. von Engeln Preserve, led by Bob B. This is hike #44 on our website’s hike list.

The weather conditions were much improved over Saturday’s steady rain. Temperatures were cool throughout the hike, and about halfway into our looping route the sun came out, its light filtering through the canopy.

Trail conditions in the preserve were excellent, and Bob stopped frequently to share his knowledge of the area with hikers. I personally enjoyed the eskers, where we walked along the ridgeline with small ponds visible in the low-lying lands below us. Crossing the beaver dam and learning about the acid bog is always of interest to hikers.

Warm welcome to Ben, Qin, and Maria on their first hike with our group!

After the hike, several of us made an impromptu stop at Hopshire for some food, drinks, and conversation.

For those interested in learning more about the creation of the preserve, please note that the old link to Bob’s book, The Journey at Malloryville Bog: Commitment, Teamwork and Tenacity in Defense of Land and Nature, on the hike #44 page was broken. That link has been fixed. This excellent book is available both in print and Kindle formats here.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers September 25 – October 1

Wednesday September 27

South Hill Rec Way/Six Mile Creek, south side, rim trail, Ithaca

Hike report and photo by Jim

Nineteen hikers met on Crescent Place in Ithaca for a hike of the trail system next to the South Hill Recreation Way. This is hike #2 on our list of hikes.

Conditions were good, with cool temperatures and lots of sunshine throughout the hike. Starting out from Crescent Place, we were on the South Hill Rec Way for only a few minutes before turning onto the trail system. Along the way, we visited the old stone stairs and the overlook area for Second Dam.

Water flow in the stream crossings and ravines was minimal. The trail eventually reconnects with the South Hill Rec Way closer to Burns Road. Most of the group walked out and back on the Rec Way toward Burns Road to use up a few minutes before we retraced our steps along our outbound route.

Eventually, we took a side trail to drop down to stream level opposite the wildflower preserve. After that, a quick climb back to the Rec Way returned us to our cars. Today’s hike ran past our normal duration by around five minutes.

A warm welcome to Victor on his first hike with the group!

Saturday September 30

Connecticut Hill, Newfield

Hike report by Nancy L.

On Saturday, 25 hikers and three dogs gathered at the junction of Boylan and Lloyd Starks roads for a group picture on a misty, cool morning. After the photo, we began by hiking up Boylan Road, passing a pond and crossing a creek before turning left to take a trail into the woods.

The trail was covered with pine needles yet easy to follow as we traversed the hillside above the creek, following the creek’s course downhill.  The trail itself reached its highest point in about a half a mile before heading downhill to Carter Creek Road. 

Here we turned right, taking the road until we turned onto a trail down to Carter Creek.  After crossing the creek, we followed an old carriage road up to the ruins of a large homestead before retracing our steps back to the road. 

We followed the road in the other direction and crossed the creek that we had taken downhill, and then turned onto a trail heading uphill on the other side. We were treated to a closeup of the beaver pond nestled among pine trees at the top of the creek before we headed back to the cars.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Nancy L. and Randy O.

View Nancy and Randy’s photo album.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday October 1

Finger Lakes Trail in Danby State Forest from S. Danby Road to the Tamarack Lean-To

Hike report by Jim

On Sunday morning, 21 hikers and two dogs hiked on the FLT from South Danby Road to the Tamarack Lean-to and back. This is hike #23-1 on our website.

The day was sunny but cool overall. Under the forest canopy, it was brighter than some of our recent hikes. The trail is mostly a gradual climb from South Danby Road, the FLT footpath repeatedly crisscrossing the snowmobile trail. We encountered minimal mud today. For most of this hike, a deep layer of old pine needles lies underfoot. A fresh layer of recently fallen leaves blanketed the trail in places. That, plus the general ambiance of the woods this hike passes through, makes this one of my personal favorite hikes.

Beyond the seasonal portion of Trayvor Road, the footpath begins a gradual descent until it reaches the lean-to. I wrote a quick entry in the journal there, and hikers who were new to this location spent a few minutes exploring the lean-to. After that, we started the return leg of our hike, which went quickly thanks to the trail’s gentle descent.

Most of us arrived back at the cars a few minutes early. Thanks to June M. and Lincoln for leading the group on both the outbound and return legs of the hike.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

Report to Hikers September 18 – September 24

Wednesday September 20

Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve

Hike report by Jim

Eleven hikers met on Ellis Hollow Creek Road for a hike of the Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve, which is hike #38 on our list of hikes. The day was cool but sunny, and the greenery in the parking area was clearly in seasonal transition, with many shades coloring the leaves as I waited for hikers to arrive.

We all stayed together for a single circuit of the yellow, blue, and red loops. Once we were in the preserve, things were quite gloomy under the canopy, and here it was obvious that most of the trees had yet to start their seasonal transition. There was almost no water flowing in the creeks, and we encountered only rare patches of mud along the way.

After a quick pause at the kiosk at the end of the first circuit, the group splintered into a number of subgroups, and each subgroup did its own route within the preserve. The entire group reconvened at the two-hour mark to conclude the hike.

Our group had the place to ourselves with the exception of a single dog walker we encountered along the way.

Saturday September 23

Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve, West Danby

Hike report by Jim

Eighteen hikers and one dog met at Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve in West Danby to do hike #16 on our hike list. The day was generally overcast, but hikers said they preferred that to some of the hotter days we’ve hiked recently.

Before we set out, the larger group split into two smaller groups. Each group did its own distinct hike: Five hikers, led by Casey, preferred to bushwhack to the top of the Pinnacles, while most hikers stayed within the preserve’s trail system.

Those hiking within the preserve started with a quick loop around the Coleman Lake observation trail, then entered the larger fields and began a loop hike of the various yellow, blue, red and orange trails there.

Trails were in good condition, and we saw only a handful of other hikers during our time on the trails. There was a 50% chance of morning rain, but that never materialized while we were hiking.

The main group arrived back at their cars a few minutes early. Casey’s bushwhackers arrived back at the parking lot considerably later and reported a successful ascent of the hillside.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday September 24

Spur trail from upper Lick Brook/Townline Road to upper Buttermilk Falls SP/Yaple Road

Hike report by Jim

Nineteen hikers and one dog met on Townline Road in Ithaca for a hike of the Thayer Preserve trail system to the FLT spur trail into upper Buttermilk Falls State Park. This is hike #11 on our list of our regular hike locations.

We set out into Thayer Preserve on a steady climb on the orange-blazed trails away from Townline Road. A few minutes into the hike, the trail reaches Sandbank Road and follows that road in close proximity for a short while. The trail then emerges into the open fields near the South Hill Cidery glamping sites, where we paused for a group photo before returning to the woods. The trail winds through the woods until it finally emerges into an open utility right-of-way near West King Road.

We crossed West King Road and picked up the FLT spur trail, which intermingles woods walks with open fields until it reaches Yaple Road. This section in particular was very nice today; the wooded portions were gloomy, but the grasses and underbrush in this section had an almost luminescent quality, especially on the return leg of the hike after the rain had ended. The open fields were awash with a multitude of shades of fall colors: yellow, red, green, and purple.

At Yaple Road, hikers continued on the spur trail until we reached the park trail that circles Treman Lake. We took that trail to the upper end of Treman Lake, crossed the mostly dry lake bed and walked to Comfort Road on the park access road. Then, we walked back to Yaple Road and Casey took over leading the group for the return leg. We retraced our route until we reached the blue-blazed Toms Trail, which we took back to Townline Road.

We arrived back at our cars at exactly the two-hour mark.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann