Report to Hikers July 18 – July 24

Tuesday July 19

Waterman Interpretive Center, Apalachin

Hike report and photos by Jim

No one showed up for the Tuesday “farther away” hike of the Waterman Conservation Education Center outside of Owego, so I opted to do a solo exploratory hike of the center’s trails, as I’d never been there.

Chris, one of the staff members at the center, was nice enough to take a few minutes away from his hectic job of welcoming participants of the center’s summer youth program to talk to me about the various trails and the general geography of the center’s property.

Based on that discussion, I set off on the red-blazed trail outside of the parking area. The first few hundred yards of trail consisted of boardwalk that soon gave way to a more normal hiking footpath. The main trails I walked — the red-, blue-, and green-blazed trails — were all well maintained. The yellow-blazed side trail that led to the ravine area and a dry waterfall was a little more rustic and had some blowdown obstructions.

The red-blazed trail was mainly a needle-covered path under the tree canopy, which put me in deep summer shadows, while the blue-blazed trail was a more open path of mowed grass as it passed through the high ground on center’s property.

I skipped the yellow loop trail that circles what’s essentially an open field, as I had no interest in hiking that trail in the heat of the day under the full glare of the summer sun.

There was little water flowing in the streams, and while the many short wooden bridges indicate that there are normally numerous wet locations along the trails, I found no mud or other impediments on my hike today.

If you find yourself in the Owego area, I believe that this trail system is worth stopping and checking out.

Wednesday July 20

Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve

Hike report and photos by Jim

Twelve hikers met on Ellis Hollow Creek Rd for a hike of the preserve there, on what proved to be a very sunny, hot and muggy day.

The creeks we crossed were bone dry, and mud along the trail was a distant memory. Thankfully the trees and other foliage doesn’t seem to be browning or wilting from the lack of rain we’ve been experiencing.

We shared the trail with a small handful of other hikers and dog walkers we encountered along the way.

The initial clockwise loop was completed at a pace that seemed to be fairly quick. A majority of hikers opted to do a second, counterclockwise circuit, while others chose to tailor the second half of the hike to directions of travel and speed of hiking that they felt comfortable with, given the heat of the day.

A small number of the group opted to call it a day with a single circuit of the trail system; that’s something this particular location is good for — tailoring the hike to fit your own needs.

Saturday July 23

Bald Hill Preserve, Brooktondale

Hike report by Nancy L. and Randy O.

Near the summit of Bald Hill School Road, 15 people and two dogs gathered an hour earlier than our normal hike time to avoid the predicted heat. After parking along the edge of the road, successfully avoiding the ditches, we headed into the Cornell preserve. 

It was shady and pleasant in the woods.  The trail wound through the preserve for about a mile before reaching a path that was formerly a dirt road which headed down hill, still in shade.  After about half a mile we encountered another former road and made a left, continuing down the hill. Although the leader, Nancy L,  was unfortunately unaware, at some point along the way we entered private property.

As those in front approached White Church road, an indignant owner appeared and informed the group of 11 hikers and a dog that they could not return the way they had come.  Four of the hikers and the other dog met another owner somewhat farther up the hill, who begrudgingly allowed them to turn around and go back.  This involved  an 800 ft climb back up the hill to the cars.

On the way back, the path along the old road heading uphill was taken all the way to Bald Hill School Road, where we turned left to make our way back down to the cars.  By the time the four hikers reached the cars, all of the other hikers and the dog had returned. Fortunately, several cars had stopped to pick up stranded hikers. One of the hikers drove back down and picked up some more hikers, and other hikers were picked up by some very kind Finger Lakes Trail hikers. This is not a hike we will repeat.

Photos by Nancy L. and Randy O.

Photos by Cian

View Nancy and Randy’s photo album.

View Cian’s photo album.

Sunday July 24

FLT from Carson Rd to Woodchuck Hollow Lean-to, Cortland County

Hike report and photo by Jim

Ten hikers and two dogs met on Carson Rd. for a day hike on the FLT toward the Woodchuck Hollow lean-to. I’ve previously done this as a Wednesday hike for the group, never on the weekend, because I’ve never been certain of the parking along the shoulder of Carson Rd. We have a previous invitation to use a residence driveway down the road for our group to park in, but that would involve a bit of a hike back to the trailhead.

While at the trailhead the group was introduced to “Dingo,” a friendly and inquisitive dog that lives across the street and is, according to its owner, the canine trail guardian.

The day was bright and sunny as we set off, but under the canopy of leaves it was shady and we even had occasional breezes to spur us down the trail. The footpath was bone dry, as were all of the usual mudholes along our route. Roger’s hiking partner Diego managed to find the only standing pool of water along our route and was soon belly deep in it.

There were  a fair number of blow-downs, which forced the group to crawl over or bushwhack around the trees and get back onto the footpath. I’ve said it before, but our trail maintainers on the Tompkins sections of the FLT spoil us.

The outbound leg of the hike was uneventful; it was a nice walk overall, although I prefer this route when the water is running in the streams that we pass along.

We stopped at the Woodchuck Hollow lean-to and took a group photo. I replaced the shelter trail register, which I had noticed during my last section hike in the area had been torn apart, probably for its paper content for bonfires.

We pushed down the FLT, soon encountering the blue-blazed trail that allows us to lollipop our route back to the FLT and our vehicles.

We ran into one other day hiker, but otherwise we had the trail to ourselves today.

Welcome to Sara on her first hike with the group!

For  those trying to earn their FLT60 patch, today’s hike counts as 4 FLT miles.

Report to Hikers July 11 – July 17

Tuesday July 12

IBM Glen, Endwell

Hike report by Jim

For the summer’s first Tuesday “farther away hike, hikers explored IBM Glen, which is part of the Waterman Conservation Center, located in Endwell in the Town of Union, Broome County. This was the group’s first time here, and I hadn’t been able to prescout the hike location, so I had no formal plan for a hike route.

IBM Glen was built by the IBM corporation as part of their country club facility in the 1940s. They created paved paths, stone bridges and picnic facilities within the glen. In the early 2000s, the glen was turned over to the Waterman Center. The glen is over 200 acres in size and has some of the oldest trees in that county, as well as a waterfall that is claimed to be the largest in the county.

We set off from the small parking lot. The trail descends gradually into the glen, with a couple of options  for hikers within the first five minutes. (Hiker Norm struck off on his own from the parking lot, so I have asked him to provide a quick synopsis of his own adventures at this location as part of the hike report.)

The rest of the group opted to start with the more westerly red- and blue-blazed trails. While the trails here do have occasional colored blaze discs similar to what we see on trails in Tompkins County, for much of the trail system these blazes are scarce. They appear primarily at and around trail junctions.

The major trails have an older blacktop surface that has fairly eroded in some areas. We completed the first trail arc on “Maple Lane” and were happy to leave that blacktop path for the unimproved Switchback and Gray’s Creek trails that are more of the sort of hiking trail we’re used to navigating in our area. These trails led down into the glen, where we crossed Gray’s Creek. There are some old-growth trees around the creek area.

We eventually arrived at a nice older stone bridge. The waterflow in the area was minimal, so we couldn’t fully enjoy the nearby waterfall. After taking some photos there we continued on our way, eventually arriving at the paved White Pine Lane as part of our intended loop route.

By this time we were quickly running out of time, so we returned to the unpaved shelter trail which returned us to the Switchback Trail. While navigating back through the Grays Creek area, the group was treated to the sight of a  red-tailed hawk, which flew through the glen and perched on a nearby tree, seeming to pose for us while we photographed it.

The group returned to the paved Hemlock Lane, which ended at the Wildflower Lane. This in turn led us back to the parking lot.

Before the hike I was worried that we had barely enough trail to give us a two-hour hike. In fact, we had to cut a large swath of the more northerly trails within the glen from our route in order to end the hike on time.

This hike was unique enough that I have added it to our hike list.

Photos by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Norm’s take on IBM Glen

I grabbed a paper map from the interp stand and left the main group of hikers at the parking lot about 20 minutes before the start of the hike. The trails took me to about 50 yards from the big ravine, which was small compared to those of Ithaca. A quick bushwhack dropped me into the heart of the ravine.

Old-growth hemlocks here and there towered above the damp rock and shallow, sluggish or still water of Grays Creek, which is likely a lively creek each spring.

The rhododendrons were in bloom downstream from the 15-foot drop of the big falls.

The main interest of this ravine was the bryophytes (mosslike plants) that clung to the damp rock walls. The highlight was lots of jubula, a dark green liverwort found only on rocks in the deep shade of ravines.

Wednesday July 13

Kennedy State Forest, Dryden

Hike report by Jim

Twelve hikers and five dogs hiked Kennedy SF. This was our traditional route along the FLT and Swedish Loop, not the more recent International Trail hike we’ve checked out. It was an enjoyable day, with pleasant temps and a dry footpath that added greatly to the hike experience.

Some of the dogs ran the outbound portion of the hike with cowbells clanging, which surely was enough to scare away any bear that may have been in the area.

In the past we’ve always completed the hike around 15 minutes early, sowe hiked a few extra minutes on the Swedish Loop before turning around and making our way to the FLT for the return leg of the hike.

Other than a couple of other hikers we encountered in the last few minutes of the hike, we had the trail to ourselves.

Hikers attempting to earn their FLT60 patch should consider this hike to count as 3.5 miles toward that goal.

Saturday July 16

Connecticut Hill History/Adventure Hike

Hike report by Dave B.

Comfortable temperatures and sunny skies greeted 16 hikers and 2 dogs for a glimpse of the 19th-century settlements that once dotted what is now the Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area.

Our first stop was a homestead featuring remnants of a stone foundation, a large hole that was likely a basement, and an impressive intact well. This the well into which longtime hiker Norm once descended to collect samples, now known (per Casey Creamer) as the Norman Rock Well.

Our route then split off from more well-established trails to descend into a deep ravine. The creek at the bottom had almost completely dried up, making for dry shoes as the trail crisscrossed it heading downhill. Unfortunately, that also meant that the two waterfalls (one of them flanked by stone steps laid up long ago) were also dry, leaving the full beauty of these sights to hikers’ imaginations.

Crossing Carter Creek at the bottom of the descent brought us to what’s left (a lot!) of the stone dam that once backed up quite a large reservoir. Several hikers climbed up the stone spillway to get atop the standing portion of the dam, at least 8 feet tall.

From there, a pretty roadwalk along the Carter Creek ravine brought us to an abandoned road leading back across the creek and uphill, past what’s left of an old stump fence to a well-preserved basement surrounded by a large blanket of myrtle. Continuing the climb, we again reached the first homesite to reconnect with the trail back to the cars. All told, the hike covered almost 5 miles in 2:40.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Sunday July 17

Carter Creek Road Walk, Newfield

Hike report by Jim

Five hikers and two dogs met at the junction of Rowell Hill and Carter Creek roads for a road walk of the seasonal Carter Creek Rd.

The day was warm, with slight breezes. No rain fell during the hike to ease the heat, although we had constant companions of flying insects of both the biting and nonbiting variety.

The hike was uneventful, mostly under the shade of surrounding trees, with periodic pools of intense light, which we tended to race across to get to the next area of welcome shade.

Along the way we encountered a sunning snake or two, but otherwisewe had the road to ourselves.

At the washed-out bridge we turned around and retraced our steps.

Welcome to Julia on her first hike with the group!

Alternative Hike: Abbott Loop

Hike report by Casey

Roz and I are going to Estes Park on the 26th to do some hiking in the Rockies. So, she decided we needed a bit of a tune up prior to that trip, and I would say that is what we got with this hike.

There were six hikers, no dogs and no cats. We did the entire Abbott Loop, starting from Diane’s Crossing and going in a clockwise direction. Partway through the hike I had to apologize to the group for failure to provide the usual mud encountered on many parts of this route. To make up for that lack of mud, I did manage to provide hot and humid, with more than our share of annoying bugs.

We managed the 8.34 mile hike in 2 hours and 41 minutes. That put us back at our cars at about the same time the big group should have been finishing their hike, although we started at 8:00. And for an added treat we ran into three regular Ithaca Hikers when we got back to our cars. They had apparently just hiked down from Bald Hill Road and were now on their way back.

Anyway, when you need a tune-up hike to get yourself ready for a hiking trip, I would recommend this one. It has everything you need in a hike, and by the time you get done you should definitely feel like you didn’t need to hike any farther. When we got home, just climbing up the steps inside our house felt like we were climbing yet another steep hill. I would recommend whenever you do the whole loop, you do it in the clockwise direction so that the treat of getting to the Pinnacles happens later in the hike instead of sooner.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Report to Hikers July 4 – July 10

Monday July 4

Monkey Run Natural Area, south side of Fall Creek, Varna

Hike report by Jim

For our Independence Day hike, 19 hikers and two dogs set off from the dead end on Monkey Run Road for a hike of the Cayuga Trail system on the southern side of Fall Creek.

The day was warm and the trails almost entirely dry due to a lack of any recent rain. The skies were a deep blue, the long tendrils of white clouds overhead quickly pushed their way across the sky as we set off; soon the skies were entirely clear.

We set off heading west, quickly scaling the low bluffs beyond the parking lot and dropping down to the unimproved roads and open fields closer to Varna.

After a quick roadwalk, we were soon plunging into the woods to follow the red-blazed trails along the creek. Here we shared the trail with a handful of dog walkers. Here and there, people were wading in the creek in an effort to escape the day’s heat. We made a quick stop along the stream for photos and soon moved on.

The trail winds along the creek before climbing the surrounding hills. At the top of the high bluffs, we stopped to look down at the creek before continuing.

The red-blazed trail descends back to creek level, and the trail winds in and out along the shoreline. For the most part the trail was clear and easily navigated; in some parts the summer undergrowth in all of its peak summer height crowded the footpath. Occasionally we had to navigate around a fallen tree that hadn’t yet been cleared from the path.

Eventually we reached our turnaround point and retraced our steps to the orange-blazed side trail that returns directly to the Monkey Run Rd. parking lot.

Thanks to all who took time out of their holiday plans to join the group today!

I believe that the Monkey Run area trails, being maintained by the CTC, count as FLT miles for the purposes of the FLT60 patch. If so, we covered 4.1 miles on the Cayuga Trails trail system today.

Photos by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

Photos by Cian

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

View Cian’s photo album.

Wednesday July 6

Jenksville State Forest, Tioga County

Hike report by Jim

Seven people met for the Wednesday hike in Jenksville State Forest. It was a little overcast at the beginning of the hike, but by the halfway point, when we came near some open field vistas, the sun was out. Other than swarms of gypsy moths there were no bugs, no mud, and little in the way of humidity that can often ruin an otherwise good hike.

We seemingly had the woods to ourselves as we  made our way along the yellow-blazed multi-use trails on the western side of the state forest. Other than a brief pause for pictures near the fields vista and an extensive stone foundation area a short time later, we kept a steady pace throughout the hike.

The route was a moderate one, with only a small hill or two along the way to slow us down.

We emerged at the parking lot at exactly the two-hour mark.

I would like to come back here at some point in the future to do group hikes of both the red- and blue-blazed trails within the forest.

Photos by Mary W.

Saturday July 9

FLT to Van Lone Loop Lite

Hike report by Randy O.

Fifteen hikers and one small dog met on Gulf Road near the town of Alpine. The day was absolutely gorgeous, with cool temperatures, clear skies, and a light breeze. Very few bugs. 

After brief introductions, we headed downstream along the Finger Lakes Trail.  The creek was practically dry… an unusual sight to see.  We made it to the old fallen bridge and crossed the dryish creek bed.  Some of the lead group went up the side stream at the bridge. Everyone joined back up after a few minutes, and we continued uphill through lush forest. The trail then opened up into a bright field along Schoolhouse Road. We briefly stopped to check out the site of the former schoolhouse, then continued on the orange-blazed Van Lone Trail.  

The group fractured into a few small pods on the way back, each going at their preferred pace. We ended up at the cars after nearly 5 miles, in 2 hrs. 20 min.

For a July hike this one was nearly perfect.

Photos by Nancy L. and Randy O.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Nancy and Randy’s photo album.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday July 10

South Hill Rec Way, Ithaca

Hike report by Jim

I expected that this hike would be well attended, from the number of RSVPs we received from the hike posting on Meetup. Twenty-seven hikers (including late arrivals) and seven dogs met in the city of Ithaca for a hike of the upper and lower rim trails that run along the South Hill Rec Way.

The outbound leg of the hike was relatively uneventful; the group got strung out relatively early in the hike, so we were pausing periodically for the extended line of hikers to compress so we could forge ahead. The footpaths were in great condition with no mud; the water crossings had at best a trickle to remind us of their normal state during much of the year.

We paused briefly near second dam to grab a quick group photo, then carefully picked our way down the  ridge line to scale the short but steep hill beyond. Unfortunately, the leafy tree cover blocked our views of the reservoir. I do wish that there was at least a legal side trail that would take hikers to the water’s edge of second dam.

We soon found ourselves on the Rec Way, walking toward Burns Road to burn up a few minutes.

At the turnaround time, I offered the group the option of returning to our cars via the Rec Way or back through the woods. Most of the group preferred the woods route.

Walking back through the woods trails we had taken on the outbound leg of the hike we took a short detour to the deteriorating stone stairs that lead down to the water’s edge, for the benefit of our newer hikers who were on their first hike of this trail system.

After that side trip, we took the lower rim trails that lead to an area of the shoreline directly opposite Mullholland Wildflower Preserve. Unfortunately the bottom portion of that loop trail seems to have been sacrificed during the pump station construction a couple of years ago, so we had to retrace our steps to the nearest junction to get on a higher trail.

We made our way back to the cars, arriving back at the trailhead a full fifteen minutes later than normal. Most people didn’t seem to mind the longer hike, as a sizeable group of hikers remained at the curb discussing the day’s hike.

Photos by Cian

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Cian’s photo album.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Special Hike Report: Boise and Bogus Basin

Hike report by Leigh Ann

From June 25 – June 30, my husband John and I were in the Boise, ID, area. We chose Boise because we wanted to do something memorable for our 25th anniversary, and I’d never been to Idaho. We divided our time between walking around the downtown-Boise State U. area and hiking on trails in Bogus Basin, which is north of town. I think Righteous Basin is a better name.

The weather for the first few days was completely clear and the sky was so dark it looked like the underside of a turquoise bowl. In the pictures where the sky is darker than the land, that’s not the camera being weird. The dark blue persisted once some clouds came in a few days into our trip. High temperatures were — and remember that it was a dry heat, so you didn’t sweat, you just grew salt crystals — 94 to 104 degrees, depending on the day. It was surprisingly not oppressive. And for a week or two before we arrived, Boise had gotten an unusual amount of rain. This meant the grasses and wildflowers were unusually lush.

In the town itself, there are lots of trees. Boise’s town planners long ago decided it would be a good idea to have 25 miles of walking and biking paths through woods, parks, and other green spaces along the Boise River, and some of the pictures show how green it is. Boise has a population of about 600,000, which is half the state’s population. There were many pride flags, interesting art, a memorial park to Anne Frank that is in the picture where John is reading the memorial, a great farm-to-fork restaurant, and an excellent boutique hotel (Inn at 500 Capital Street) that was also friendly and affordable.

Heading away from town to the north you get to sagebrush steppe hills, which were astonishing. We saw at least 15 kinds of grasses and many kinds of wildflowers, some of which are in the pictures of a low altitude (appx. 3,000 feet) trail we hiked in Bogus Basin on our first day there: the ironically named Dry Creek Trail. We made up names: art deco green spire grass, iridescent ponytail grass, fluffy chartreuse waterfall grass, blue wavy grass, mauve bushy top grass, and so on. We couldn’t walk more than 10 feet without stopping to look at more grass.

Farther up in the hills, above about 5,000 feet, is where the pine forest starts. John and I did most of our hiking here, specifically on Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail. This is a 12.5-mile lollypop-shaped trail that has lots of views but surprisingly little elevation change. It snakes along many hills, each of which has two microclimates. On the north-facing slopes are pine and hardwood forests that are refreshingly shady. These get enough mist that club moss grows on the pines, which look like Muppet trees. On the south-facing slopes is sagebrush steppe with expansive views. Stack Rock is a large formation at the far end of the round part of the lollypop. If you pull in on the nobbier part of it in the picture, you can see a guy free soloing it. It’s bigger and a lot taller than it might seem.

John and I would go back to Boise, especially at the time of year we went. This is because we’re more into hiking than downhill skiing, which is also a big deal there.

Special Hike Report: White Mountains

Hike report by Nancy L.

After visiting our son Nathan, daughter-in-law Bri, and our 4-month-old granddaughter Eliza in Boston, Randy and I camped at Lafayette Place campground in New Hampshire.

The campground was all right but somewhat noisy because of its proximity to a super highway.  

In the morning we set off up to the Greenleaf hut, which is at the base of Mt. Lafayette. As we went up, the going got rougher, with boulders to navigate at every step.  

But after a 2,500′ elevation gain we arrived at the hut, a very nice place where you can reserve a sleeping mat in a bunk bed along with dinner and breakfast for about $135 a night.  

We enjoyed our lunch with a grand view and headed back down, which was the hardest part.

All photos by Nancy L. and Randy O. There are lots more beautiful pictures in their photo album.