Report to Hikers Week of Apr 25 – May 1

Wednesday April 27

Lindsay Parsons Preserve to the Pinnacles

Hike report by Casey

Assault on the Pinnacles:

Jim had originally scheduled a different hike for this day, but he was generous enough to agree to change it to this hike. This particular hike is best when done with a little bit of snow on the ground or in early spring before the leaves are out, due to its bushwhacking nature. And it seemed that this was going to be the last opportunity to get at it before the leaves.

We set it up so there would be two different groups on this hike. One would most likely be led by Jim and just do the regular Lindsey Parsons hike possibly in the opposite direction of how it is normally done. The other group would start with the normal hike, but we would bypass the extra little trip to the scenic pond and instead would leave the trail at a certain point and head up the hill for a bushwhack up to the Pinnacles.

We had 12 people and three eager dogs. Or was that 12 eager people and three dogs? As we split into our two groups it quickly became apparent that we had only one group and they were all ready to do the bushwhack version.

We crossed the tracks on the normal trail and went up the short, steep hill on the other side. From there you can take a slightly longer route to the right, but we had a mission with a destination so we went straight on the shorter version. At some point we got to where the bushwhack starts, but at first I didn’t recognize the exact spot because the flags that used to be there were missing. We walked just a little farther on the regular trail and then came back to where I thought the beginning of the bushwhack should be. And it started to show up as soon as I started to move in the right direction.

Now comes the fun part. The way up the hill starts to get very obvious once you get started and it is a fairly steep climb. Once you get to the top and try to catch your breath, you quickly realize that you are just at the first of many plateaus. You see a steep hill in front of you so you think you are close, but after climbing that one, you realize you are just at the next plateau with more to come. I think there were three or four plateaus. After a while, they sort of all just keep happening and you lose count as you struggle to climb and breathe.

Eventually you get to the Abbott’s Loop trail, only to realize you still have just a little more climbing to do to actually get the view from the Pinnacles. But we did indeed get there and catch the wonderful view along with the exceptional feeling of accomplishment having just climbed up so many hills that each showed another one to go.

Coming back down the series of hills and plateaus, our fearless leader (me) somehow completely missed the last plateau with its sharp left turn that would have taken us down the last steep hill. Eventually I figured out that I missed the turn and we circled around and took a much less steep path to get back to where we had left the regular trail. We might even try that way back up next time because although it was a little longer it certainly was much less of a severe climb.

It took us one hour and ten minutes to reach the Pinnacles from the parking lot and the whole trip was 4.56 miles that felt more like 8 miles.

It was a fun and challenging hike, and 12 less eager and somewhat worn out people and all three dogs made it safely back to the cars.

Photo by Casey

Saturday April 30

FLT from Lake Road Southeast of Dryden

Hike report by Jim

Twelve hikers and three dogs met on Lake Rd at the end of the Jim Schug Trail, for a walk of the Finger Lakes Trail into Cortland County.

The fields immediately off Lake Rd., as always, were a soggy mess. The day started out a little cool, but the group was soon warmed up and was removing layers as we approached the summit.

Once over the hilltop we encountered something that seemed to recur for the remainder of the hike; there were enough small blowdowns and missing blazes along the way that without having some familiarity of the hike route, we might have had some issues staying on the correct footpath.

Everyone enjoyed the initial views out over the valley that are the hallmark of this section. After a quick pause at the field, we moved back into the woods and hiked to the blue-blazed observation area that gives another view of the valley from a slightly different perspective.

Turning around, we retraced our steps back to Lake Rd., along the way running into a couple of cross-county hikers who were completing this section of the FLT before the  May hunting closure.

This hike counts as 3.8 FLT miles for those trying to earn their FLT60 patch.

Leigh Ann’s photo album

Sunday May 1

Hammond Hill State Forest from Canaan Rd.

Hike report by Jim

Fourteen hikers and three dogs met on Canaan Rd. in the town of Caroline for a figure-eight hike of the Hammond Hill trail system.

It was a beautiful day, probably the best hiking day we’ve had in some time. Light breezes, sunny, and the temperatures were at that perfect range where you are comfortable while hiking without getting overheated.

Trail conditions were also perfect, with no real mud encountered, even the predictable lower-lying areas of the route or portions of the Blue 1 trail, which almost always seem to be muddy.

Hikers walked the seasonal portion of Canaan Rd. to the bottom of the Rabbit Run snowmobile trail. Climbing the snowmobile trail, we quickly reached the B1 trail at the top of the hill. Making a figure 8 of our route, we hiked to the upper portions of Canaan Rd via the Y6 trail, which has a nice stretch of evergreens that rank among my favorite part of this particular forest.

Crossing Canaan Rd., we iwent on to hike Y5 Y4, Y8, and Y7. This route covers part of the FLT, so today’s hike counts as .5 FLT miles for those seeking their FLT60 patch.

In addition to the section through the evergreens, I particularly enjoy the Y7 trail at this time of year, as the undergrowth has not yet sprung up high enough to block the view of the hills below as the trail follows  along a section of the forest with some great views of the valley floor below.

We arrived back at Canaan Rd. about 10 minutes over our normal hike duration, but I don’t think anyone minded the few extra minutes.

Leigh Ann’s photo album

Report to Hikers Week of Apr 18 -Apr 24

Wednesday April 20

Finger Lakes Trail from Woodard Rd into Robert Treman State Park

Hike report by Jim

Sixteen hikers and one dog met on Woodard R.d for a hike of the FLT into upper Robert Treman State Park. All but three people hiked the FLT into the park, while those three hikers opted to meet the group later while initially hiking in from another direction.

It was a warm sunny day, a great hiking day after the recent colder and overcast days we’ve been having. Various flowers and new undergrowth were visibly springing to life along the trail.

The main group set off toward Fishkill Creek, taking the short grassy downhill footpath and passing the CCC trail that we would later emerge from toward the end of the hike.

After crossing Fishkill Creek via the footbridge, the group took Butternut Creek Rd. towards Van Ostrand Rd. Van Ostrand Rd. was having some minor re-gravelling done by the town, which didn’t affect our passage at all.

As we turned onto Thomas Rd., a cool breeze was blowing across the fields. The views in the distance across the open fields and through the far trees was a great visual. Some minor shoulder work on Thomas Rd. hints at possible future development, so we may be losing another part of the rural feel to this hike that we’ve already lost by the recent residential development on Van Ostrand Rd.

Rather than continue to the end of Thomas Rd as we usually have done, I opted to return the group to the seasonal end of Butternut Creek Rd., where we caught the FLT where it enters the woodline. We followed that back to the end of the maintained portion of Thomas Rd. where it enters the park via a service road. I had the group try this route for both the visual aspects along the edge of the ravine here and recalling that we always end up back at the cars early, I wanted to see if this would extend our hike time. It did not, but I think that the visuals along the ravine make this slight modification to the hike worth the change in route.

The group reached the Rim Trail via the Thomas Rd. service road, and it was here at the first overlook that we reunited with our three independent hikers.

The group continued on the Rim Trail to the main Lucifer Falls overlook, paused for a quick photo, and then returned on the Rim Trail to the Upper Treman parking area.

The CCC trail was quickly navigated and the group soon found ourselves back at our cars on Thomas Rd. a full 30 minutes early. We opted to cross the road and continue towards Hines Rd on a quick out-and-back on that portion of the FLT to complete the two-hour hike time .

Hikers attempting to earn their FLT60 patch should consider todays hike to include 2.5 miles of the FLT.

Photo by Jim

Saturday April 23

Connecticut Hill/South Carter Creek Rd.

Hike report by Randy

Sixteen hikers and three dogs met on South Carter Creek Road near the closed bridge for a hike with a lot of bells and whistles.

It was a bright, sunny day…not too cold, not too hot.  One intrepid hiker even wore shorts! (Guess who.) It was excellent hiking weather, and even with the recent rains the trails were mostly dry.

We set off a little after 9:30 due to some late arrivals, and walked up the road, crossed the closed bridge, and shortly thereafter began the uphill climb. We soon had to peel off layers of clothes. When we got to the top, we took a straw vote and elected to spend 10 minutes checking out the ruins of an old homesite, complete with foundations and maybe a well. We then headed north on a section of trail that is dry, flat and new. Crossing a small creek, we then proceeded east on another section of the loop which is also quite new…and wet in a few places. We crossed Cabin Road and followed a steep gorge down to Carter Creek, using a rope to steady ourselves on a particularly steep section at the bottom. Crossing the creek was slow, but everyone was able to navigate it in their own way. After checking out the waterfalls, we sped down the east side of Carter Creek. Once back on the road we made two brief stops to check out another former homesite and the remnants of an impressive stone dam.  

We got back to the cars a little before noon, having hiked about five miles.

One hiker wants to hike this loop annually, if not more.  It’s definitely a keeper.

Nancy L’s photo album

Leigh Ann’s photo album

Sunday April 24

 Finger Lakes Trail from Level Green Rd toward Blackman Hill Rd and Beyond

Hike report by Jim

Sixteen hikers and two dogs met on Level Green Rd. for a hike of the FLT towards Blackman Hill Rd and beyond.

Weather conditions were a bit cool at the trailhead, with a light breeze. The sun hadn’t fully come out, and with temps hoovering around 60F I chose to add another wind layer for the morning’s hike before the rest of the group had even arrived.

Trail conditions at the start were a little muddy; nothing terribly surprising about that, as this section of trail is historically wet even during the driest times of the year.

The gradual climb away from Level Green Rd found us dodging numerous wet and muddy spots along the way. There were many points where the group had some great visuals across the forest floor, as the undergrowth was not obscuring views and the leaves were still more of a halo of barely visible green encompassing the trees.

A few minor blowdowns along the trail from recent wind storms gave minimal trouble to the group; en route to the trailhead, I passed multiple areas along Level Green Rd. where road crews in recent days had had to clear trees from the road, so this aspect of the trail conditions was not unexpected.

I particularly liked the stretches of trail that go through the evergreens, as the forest floor covered with layers of needles are always one of my favorite forest environments to hike through.

Reaching Blackman Hill Rd., we encountered a good number of hikers doing this stretch of the FLT for the Cross County Hike Series that’s crossing the FLT in Tompkins County this summer.

After crossing Blackman Hill Rd., we were soon in the meadows at the crest of the field located there, with excellent views in all directions. By now the day had warmed up, the skies were clear — a perfect day to be hiking! The group paused at the memorial bench at the field, posed for some pictures for Leigh Ann, and enjoyed the surroundings before pressing on.

After leaving the open fields, we soon were descending through the woods; around us were a carpet of flowers across the ground. A pretty scene, for sure. The sun was shining through the leafless trees and the forest floor was bright and inviting as we worked our way down the hill.

Since the return trip to Level Green Rd. is mostly a downhill grade, I walked the group a few minutes farther than normal for the outbound leg of the hike, especially since the area we were walking through was so attractive.

Eventually, though, we had to make the inevitable return to our cars. The downhill stretch return leg of the FLT passed quickly and without incident, and the group found itself back on Level Green Rd at exactly the two hour mark.

Today’s hike was 4.31 FLT miles for those trying to earn their FLT60 patch.

After returning to Freeville  I stopped over to Toads Too ice cream stand for some ice cream on what by now was a hot summer day and happened to encounter the trail maintainer for the stretch of trail we hiked today. I gave her a report of the conditions we found on the hike. When you run into our local trail maintainers, be sure to thank them for their efforts in keeping the FLT in the excellent conditions we find on so many of our hikes!

Welcome to Eleanor on her first hike with the group!

Photo by Casey

Leigh Ann’s photo album

Report to Hikers Week of Apr 11 – Apr 17

Wednesday April 13

FLT from Ridgeway Rd. toward White Church Rd.

Hike report by Jim

Twelve hikers and one dog set out from the FLT parking area on Ridgeway Rd. near Coddington Rd.

It was  a warm and sunny morning, with none of the rain predicted for later in the day. I definitely over-dressed for the weather, and it wasn’t long before most of the group took advantage of short pauses to shuck layers of coats and other outer clothing.

The trail initially runs close to residences and ponds located near the parking area. The gentle grades, twists and turns as the trail winds through the pine forest and grasses not yet started towards their summer growth spurt creates an enjoyable rural hike atmosphere.

Soon, before the badly flooded portion of the trail that has been closed for a couple of hiking seasons, we took a short detour that pus us on the old railway right of way that runs along the creek. While the FLT officially uses a roadwalk alternative to avoid the flooded area, after we’d completed a previous hike at this location the nearby residents gave our group permission to use this route over the less preferred roadwalk.

Once on the old railbed the group made good time, quickly reaching the turn that takes the FLT north toward White Church Rd. After crossing White Church Rd., we encountered the only really flooded or muddy portion of the trail on today’s hike, a short stretch between the various fields that is almost always flooded regardless of the season. Aware of the potential for ticks, we walked atop the old rushes from last season that border the FLT treadway in order to avoided the water-logged trail surface. Some members of the group found the view here so enjoyable that they paused to occupy a bench rather than proceed further.

After crossing the fields we re-entered the woodline, crossing over a couple of footbridges and the rushing water below us.

After reaching the base of the mountain at exactly the hour mark, we turned around and retraced our steps. Other than stopping for a couple of quick group photos the return trip to Ridgeway Rd and our cars was unremarkable.

For those hikers who are attempting to earn their FLT60 patch, todays hike total was 3.2 FLT miles.

Photo by Jim R.

More images by Cian

Saturday April 16

Bob Cameron Loop, Connectivut Hill, Newfield

Hike report by Jim

Twelve hikers and two dogs met on Tower Rd. in Newfield for a hike of the Bob Cameron Loop.

Conditions were generally wet, damp, and foggy, due to the intermittent rain that had been falling through the evening and early morning.

Despite the general dampness, the trail was mostly free of mud except in the lower elevations and around stream crossings. The downhill portions I was expecting to be very muddy were mostly mud-free.

The fogginess lent some excellent atmospherics to the hike.

Before I realized it we had completed the lower loop of the hike and started to ascend the opposite side of the stream crossing. The climb up the hill through the various switchbacks was unremarkable although enjoyable.

We found ourselves back on Tower Rd. half an hour early, so we jumped across the road and took the FLT for several minutes of out-and-back to bring the hike up to the appropriate duration.

Hikers trying to get their FLT60 patch this year can consider today’s hike to be .5 FLT miles toward their goal.

Photo by Leigh Ann

Leigh Ann’s photo album

Cian’s photo album

Sunday April 17

Rim trail along Shindagin Hollow gorge, Shindagin Hollow SF

Hike report by Jim

Seventeen hikers and two dogs met on Shindagin Hollow Rd. for a hike of the Shindagin rim and bicycle trails.

Weather conditions changed throughout the hike; it was overcast with occasional sun at the start of the hike. By the time the group completed the rim trail and started down the bike trail to the stream crossing, the first snowflakes were starting to fall. For the remainder of the hike, snow flurries alternated with clear skies, with the sun making random appearances. No one complained that I heard; conditions simply added to the character of the hike.

The rim trail was very appealing. Minimal mud along the path was limited to mainly around the small stream crossings. The lack of leaves on the trees gave us unobstructed views down the embankments and through the forest. The periods of heavy snowflake activity lent a very wintery feel to the hike, and when the snow stopped and the sun shone down on the group, the contrasting shades of light and dark through the trees, combined with the dark tree trunks against the fresh white snow, made for interesting visuals.

The descent to the streambed after the rim trail was uneventful. The stream crossing gave us pause due to the water levels, but Katharine with her rubber boots was soon standing mid-stream assisting the group across the stream.

The bicycle path along the stream was, as always, very enjoyable from a hiking and visual perspective. The group paused at the golden shoe for a group photo before pressing onward.

Coming out onto the seasonal road, we walked Shindagin Hollow Rd. back to the lower parking area across from the Jeep trail; from there we jumped back onto the rim trail and took that back to our cars–a far better option than road walking the entire way back up the hill.

A warm welcome to Rebecca, Remko and Felipe, on their first hike with the group!

Cian’s photo album

Leigh Ann’s photo album

Report to Hikers Week of Apr 4 – Apr 10

Wednesday April 6

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

Hike report by Jim

Fifteen hikers and one dog met on Crescent Place for a hike of the South Hill Rec Way and Rim Trails.

The forecast for Tuesday night and Wednesday morning proved to be entirely inaccurate, so we did not have to deal the rain or its after-effects that I’d expected would be an issue during the hike. Temperatures were cool and there was little sun, but there was also very little mud on the trail. Streams had a decent amount of water flowing, but nothing that was too difficult to deal with.

The group set a good pace today – so good that we finished the hike a good 15 minutes earlier than normal.

Hikers started on the Rec Way before turning onto the blue-blazed rim trail. It was an enjoyable hike; we could look down the slope at the passing waterways and reservoirs through the leafless trees.

We had a few dog walkers , trail runners, and other hikers to contend with throughout the hike.

Back on the Rec Way, we walked toward Burns Rd and then back for about 20 minutes total to finish the outbound leg of the hike. Then we set off on the Rec Way in the direction of  Hudson Street. Arriving back at the cars early, most of the group opted to continue toward Hudson Street and return to Crescent in an effort to hike a bit longer. In the end we still finished significantly early, but no one was complaining.

Anyone planning on using the Rec Way from Crescent in the next week or two should be aware that, effective April 7, there will be no on-street parking due to street work.

Welcome to Jan on her first hike with the group!

Saturday April 9

Lick Brook

Hike report by Jim

Twenty hikers and one dog met on Townline Rd for a hike of the Sweedler Preserve and Lick Brook, with additional hike time on part of the Thayer Preserve’s “ Tom’s Trail”  to round out the hike to a full two hours.

A light rain was falling as hikers arrived at the parking area, but as soon as the hike started the rain stopped for a time.

The descent to the forest floor was uneventful, the group winding its way down the hill, the chatter of hiker conversations behind me the dominant sound I could hear from the front of the line. The leafless trees offered no obstruction to views and let us see a great distance across the flatlands below as we approached the bottom of the slope.

As always, it was nice to walk along the upper parts of the trail immediately off Townline Rd, where the treadway closely follows the stream coursing below us. The water flow was in great quantity today, and I enjoyed watching the stream as it coursed toward the valley floor below.

At the valley floor, the group quickly made its way to the waterfall there.

After a quick pause we continued on our way, following the FLT footpath as far as the railroad trestle before turning around.

Nancy L led the group up the hill. We threaded our way through the various switchbacks until we again reached Townline Rd. As we climbed back up the hill the rain returned, slightly harder than at the beginning of the hike but not in quantities or in such force as to be detrimental to the hike.

Once back at the cars, some hikers opted to call it a day and head for home. The remainder of the group crossed the road and jumped onto the Thayer Preserve Toms Trail for  a quick circuit of that trail loop.

After the hike a small group of hikers met in Ithaca for a post-hike lunch at Thai Basil.

Warm welcome to hikers Ruthie, Nancy S, and Frances on their first hike with the group!

Today we also had long-time Ithaca Hiker Eckhart and his hiking partner Sophie join us after along absence from the group.

For those hikers counting their FLT miles towards the FLT60 patch, I would count today’s FLT mileage as 1 mile toward your goal.

Photo by Jim
Photo by Nancy H.

Photo by Cian
Photo by Cian
Photo by Cian

More images by Cian

Photo album by Leigh Ann

Sunday April 10

Special Hike with Other Area Hiking Groups, Abbott Loop, Danby State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Forty hikers and five dogs met at Station and Bald Hill Rds for a hike of the Abbott Loop. I tried my best to get an accurate head count of both people and dogs but that’s the closest I could come.

In addition to Ithaca Hikers, we had representation from the American Pilgrims on the Camino from Meetup, the Cayuga Trails Club, Ithaca Dog Hikers, and the Ithaca Outdoor Adventure Club, as well as hikers’ friends who don’t belong to any local group.

At the start of the hike, we saw some steady snow flurries, a last cold blast of winter to greet hikers as we headed for the hills (literally).

The group made its way up the seasonal portion of Bald Hill Rd to the first turn onto the Abbott Loop that sends hikers in a counterclockwise direction on the Loop. After a brief pause at the Pinnacles, the group made its way down the southwesterly side of the slope to the far connection with the seasonal portion of Bald Hill Rd.

Once there, hikers could choose to continue on the full loop or take a shortcut and return to their cars. About half of the group opted to do the full loop, while the others took one of two routes back to their cars.

The loop hikers pressed onward, making several successful water crossings before reaching Michigan Hollow Rd. After Michigan Hollow Rd, the snow returned but did not persist for long; instead, the wind was soon whipping through the treetops, encouraging hikers to hasten their pace.

The stretch of trail between Michigan Hollow Rd and Hill Rd had some of the muddiest stretches of the trail today, although the mud and running streams on the trail were constant companions.

Turning northward, the loop soon meets the FLT, and hikers were heading west toward Hill Rd. Crossing Hill Rd and descending towards Michigan Hollow Rd, we encountered the only other people on the trail that we were to meet all day.

After crossing Michigan Hollow Rd we were soon back on the Abbott Loop itself, a last climb and descent, one last stream crossing, before the end of the Loop came in the form of the seasonal portion of Bald Hill Rd appearing in the distance.

I acted as sweep for a good portion of the hike and my time, for my first complete circuit of the Loop, came in at exactly 5 ½ hours.

I want to thank everyone from the various hiking groups who participated in today’s hike. I hope that we can repeat these joint hikes again in the future and build some enduring connections between the various local hiking groups.

For those hikers who competed the loop and are tracking your FLT miles toward the FLT60 patch, your FLT mileage for today was 1.6 FLT miles.

More photos by Leigh Ann

More photos by Nancy L. and Randy

More photos by Cian