Report to Hikers March 11-March 17

Wednesday, March 13

 FLT west from Logan Rd., Finger Lakes National Forest 

Hike report by Casey

Eleven Hikers showed up at the trail head on Logan Road in Burdett (which by the way is no farther away from Ithaca than the Shindaigin hikes that we do) and headed west on the Finger Lakes Trail. The weather was exceptional for this time of year. The trail was still muddy in many places, but the views were spectacular.

We managed to get to the rail bed for our turn around and by the time we got back to the cars we had logged 5.04 miles with 789 feet of elevation gain.

Photo by Leah F. Vosko

Saturday, March 16

Lindsay Parsons Preserve, West Danby

(1) Hike report by Mark Sussman

17 hikers and 1 dog explored the various trails at the Lindsey-Parson’s Preserve. On this beautiful sunny day the group moved at a steady pace, and observed the various ponds surrounded by rolling hills.

The main hike finished about 20 minutes early so a group decided to do an extra loop on the red trail. Others decided to just head for their cars.

An additional 6 hikers did an alternate hike – the challenging scramble up to the Pinnacles.

(2) Hike report by Casey

There were two somewhat separate hikes starting at the same time from the same location. Mark Sussman led the regular Lindsay Parsons Hike while Casey started with 7 people for a more challenging hike that starts on the regular trails but eventually takes a turn for the steeper, where we do a bushwhacking climb off the beaten trail to make our way all the way to the Pinnacles that is on the Abbotts Loop trail. I think we managed to get to the Pinnacles in one hour.

On the way back we added a little to our hike by taking the purple blazed alternate trail off of the orange to get back to the railroad tracks crossing.

We managed to do the whole 4.39 miles, 971 feet of elevation gain, in 2 hours and 7 minutes without rushing.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Photos by Mark Sussman

Sunday, March 17

Ekroos/ Wheeling/State Land Rd.

Hike report by Mary W.

This St. Patrick’s Day morning, fifteen hikers met to walk Ekroos Road in the Town of Candor, Tioga County. Getting there is one of the rigors of this walk, gps and cell connection is unreliable in this area.

It rained lightly enroute to the hike, however once our walking began, the rain stopped. Hikers walked the rambling, rural road (having three different names) for about two miles eastward to 76 Road. It remained mostly cloudy and about 40F. As Casey pointed out, this was the first time in which every hiker reached 76 Rd and thus we were able to gather there for a group photo, cheers all!

Following the brief gathering, hikers turned around and walked back toward the cars. Many hikers continued walking beyond the cars to reach South Road and then back to the meet-up area in order to complete the full road distance. 

No one mentioned the recent and tragic history regarding Ekroos Road, so I’ll leave it as a mystery and not sully the hike. Instead I’ll call it a rigorously pleasant rural road hike on which we met to stroll for a total of about 4.2 miles with a terrific bunch of walkers!

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers March 4-March 10

Wednesday, March 6

South Hill Road heading east on FLT to Texas Hollow Road and back

Hike report by Casey

It was a wet Wednesday. We started with ten hikers at the FLT on South Hill Road in Benettsburg. Because we had two Toms we might have to name this the Tomtom hike. We also had two new hikers with us and they seemed to have a good time.

We went east towards Texas Hollow Road. In the past there were a few confusing spots on this hike, but it seems that someone did some blazing to get rid of any confusion.

As you get close to Texas Hollow Road. The trail becomes quite a challenging downhill. And because of the rain, that challenging part had slippery leaves, roots, rocks etc. It was tricky, but we survived, and from there we continued on the FLT into the normal Texas Hollow hike for about ten minutes and then turned around and headed back.

Because the steep downhill was such slow going, the steep uphill on the way back didn’t take us any longer than the downhill. Once we got to the top of the hill, it was a slight downhill on the way to our cars. We ended up ten minutes shy of two hours with only 3.72 miles and 738 feet of elevation gain. It was still a challenging hike for part of it.

Photos by Maria McMahon

Saturday, March 9

Shindagin Hollow Road east to South Road on the FLT, Brooktondale

Hike report by Mary W.

Nineteen hikers met at the southern end of Shindagin Hollow Road to hike the FLT to South Road. This location starts in the “hollow” proper and at the junction of Gulf Creek Road. An issue that was clear at the meet-up for this hike is that Google Maps, and GPS in general, is unreliable in this area. To explain, GPS is spotty, or absent in places due to lack of cell coverage. In addition, Google Maps routed several drivers to Gulf Creek Road. This may look like an efficient route to the meet up location, but Gulf Creek Road is a non-paved, largely unmaintained, seasonal access road that is very difficult for automobiles to travel. Talking with Nancy H briefly we highlighted two approaches to remediate the navigation trouble:  A.) Hike leaders will write out directions to the hike meetup when in this particular area. B.) Hikers are advised to contact the hike leader prior to the meet up if they are unsure of the area and where to go. A hike leader’s email is listed in each hike announcement. 

It was 39 degrees and cloudy at the meet up. Hikers traversed the FLT for about 4.3 miles and for two hours before returning to automobiles. The rain held off and the residual mud wasn’t too bad. As usual, the pine groves, the lean to, the stream and small gorge, the rock sculptures and the cedar grove were the highlights of the forest this morning.  

It is with great sadness for the loss of a fellow hiker that this hike is dedicated to Linda Verling. She was a friend, farmer, mother, grandmother, wife . . .  a strong and kind, long-time hiker who recently lost her life unexpectedly to a respiratory illness and related causes. 

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday, March 10

Havington Hill, into Cortland County

Hike report by Leigh Ann

Seventeen hikers and one dog met at the junction of Lake Road and the Jim Schug Trail and hiked north to where the Finger Lakes Trail crosses Lake. The Havington Hill hike goes east on the Finger Lakes Trail from Lake Rd. It is reliably excellent and enjoyably varied with steep parts through the woods, expansive views across fields, and several stream crossings. This was a great day for anyone that liked water underfoot – lots of it. Although we got snowed on immediately before and after the hike, it was the water underfoot that was remarkable. Today the entrance field was a 3-5-inch-deep lake with grass all through it. One crossing of a deep stream took rearranging rocks to make it passable for everyone. There were many opportunities to hop across trail-eating streams or just slog through them. Overall, an excellent day – one for telling stories about (“You wouldn’t believe…”).

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers February 26-March 3

Wednesday, February 28

Deputron Hollow, Danby

Hike report by Leigh Ann

Nine hikers met near the corner of Marsh Road and Nelson Road for a nearly 6-mile hike down Deputron Hollow Road to Coddington Road. Two hikers arrived shortly after I took this photo, by which point the sky had opened up into a heavy, warm-for-February rain. It wasn’t good for more photos, but it was motivating for speed. We arrived at our turn-around spot at or within sight of Coddington in 50 minutes and took 55 minutes to return to the cars. Fortunately, the rain let up about half an hour into our hike. By the time we had climbed the almost 700-foot hill back to the cars, we were pretty dry.

Photo by Leigh Ann

Saturday, March 2

FLT east from Logan Rd. toward Burnt Hill Rd., Finger Lakes National Forest, Burdett

Hike report by Casey

Ten hikers who were not worried about a little rain started on Logan Road in Burdett and headed east on the FLT.

This part of the trail does a gradual climb for a full mile and then crosses Burnt Hill Road for the first time. It then continues, and without being obvious, it gradually makes a sweeping 180 degree turn to the right so that it eventually intersects Burnt Hill Road again only this time from the east, heading westerly.

We were at the one hour mark at this point. We could have turned around and gone back the way we came or turn north on Burnt Hill Road to head back to where the trail first intersected the road. Instead we chose to follow the FLT as it turns south onto Burnt Hill Road and goes downhill as it heads into Bennettsburg. After maybe ten minutes or so, just before the bottom of the hill, we turned around and climbed back up Burnt Hill Road and headed to the first intersection where we then got back onto the FLT heading west towards our cars with a gradual one mile downhill.

The end result was 5.14 miles, 1,010 feet of elevation gain, in 2 hours 5 minutes.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Sunday, March 3

Shindagin Hollow State Forest

Hike report by Leigh Ann

On the first non-rainy hike day in a week, 24 hikers and one dog met at the second parking area down Braley Hill Rd. for an out-and-back east on the FLT. This hike has two stream crossings within the first half mile. While these are easy to navigate on the way out, they are a Bermuda Triangle for hikers on the way back. 

This is because as you’re heading west back to the cars, there a blue-marked trails that parallel the west sides of the streams that look much more like trails than the FLT does from that direction. So, the following helps: as you’re coming up to the first stream crossing, turn around. Look at your feet (where you’ll be looking right after the stream crossing heading west), then look just past your feet to see what the FLT looks like from there. You can repeat this at the second stream crossing. Unlike every other time we’ve done this hike recently, no one went the wrong way on the way back to the cars.

Fourteen hikers went past Shindagin Hollow Road on the FLT and continued up a steep hill that heads toward a lean-to, until the 1-hour mark, then returned in exactly an hour. This hike has a good amount of up and down on the out and back, and we got almost 1000 feet of elevation gain altogether.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Report to Hikers February 19-February 25

Wednesday, February 21

South Hill Rec Way from Burns Road

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-six hikers met on Burns Rd in the Town of Ithaca for a hike of parts of the South Hill Rec Way and associated side blue blazed hiking and un-blazed ski trails. This is hike # 2-3 on our list of hike locations:

The day was VERY sunny and very clear and no wind, which made for a great hike!

In the past most of our South Hill Rec Way hikes have started on Crescent Place in the City of Ithaca. The city maps of the Rec Way have always shown a blue blazed loop off the Rec Way near Burns Rd, and other maps of the trail system in the area display a number of ski trails that in my time with the group we’ve never explored (see the map at the bottom of the link above ) . Recently I joined a CTC hike on the Rec Way that included the previously unexplored ( for me) westerly blue blazed loop trail, and that hike spurred me to finally plan a hike in the area for the Ithaca Hikers.

The previous day I pre-hiked the area and came up with a route that was mostly side hiking and ski trails, with as little of the Rec Way footpath as I could get away with. The amount of snowpack in the area was both minimal and old enough that I could see where previous walkers and their dogs (who I assume are either locals or familiar with the un-blazed ski trails) have gone with some frequency. This assisted me in planning the route that Ithaca Hikers would take on this hike.

Starting from Burns Rd the group walked the Rec Way to a trail along one of the ravines near the blue blazed trail that clearly gets a LOT of use by dog walkers. This trail follows the edge of the ravine in a gentle arc and a slight downhill grade until it dead ends above the second dam watershed. We normally view the watershed from a couple of other locations, but this spot was a new one for us. After pausing above the watershed, we re-traced our steps back to the blue blazed trail and traveled that loop in a westerly direction back to the Rec Way, crossing one frozen stream and navigating a little bit of elevation gain along the way to complete our hike of the loop trail.

Arriving back at the Rec Way we walked westerly on that for a distance until arriving at one of the near-by ski trails. We jumped on that trail, which passed along the edge of another ravine and through some nice stands of woods until it connected with the blue blazed hiking trail. From there we re-traced our previous route back to where we had first left the Rec Way.

Once back on the South Hill Rec Way I found that we had walked a little faster than I had on my pre-hike the previous day, so we walked westerly on the Rec Way to burn a few minutes before turning around and returning to our cars.

Casey advised me that we had covered about 4.5 miles on this hike.

Photo by Jim

Saturday, February 24

Hoxie Gorge, Cortland County

Hike report by Jim

Seventeen hikers and one dog met at the end of Hoxie Gorge Rd in Cortland Couty for a an out-and -back hike of the FLT and McDermott Nature Trail in the area. This is hike # 60-2 on our list of regular hike locations:

The day started out quite chilly; as I arrived at the parking area a steady stream of snowflakes were falling around me. Things warmed up during the morning as the sun came out and temperatures rose a few degrees.

Hikers set out from the parking area, walking a short distance down Hoxie Gorge Rd to get onto the blue-blazed access trail. This footpath used to be the actual FLT, but was relegated to access trail status at some time in the past. This trail follows the streambed of Hoxie Gorge Creek closely, the footpath winding its way through the forest with some minor elevation changes yet never straying far from the streambed. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years there appears to have been very little in the way of trail maintenance being done, and the cumulative examples of deferred maintenance are really starting to add up Which is a shame, as it is a nice section of trail.

Reaching the FLT the group paused for a photo before continuing on the FLT on a generally northerly loop that eventually led the group to the Hoxie Gorge Lean-To. The FLT in this section crosses a few streams, where a moderate amount of ice was still evident. Water levels were low and the crossings were easily accomplished.

The FLT footpath itself is in fairly good shape, with some semi-frozen mud, primarily around the stream crossings. Masses of roots at various points require that you pick your way up and down the hillsides carefully, and a few past blowdowns of various ages that are still blocking the footpath really need to be cleared from the route.

After arriving at the lean-to some hikers opted to press on for a few more minutes before returning to the lean-to to pick up the remaining hikers and begin the return leg of the hike.

Upon returning to the junction of the FLT and the access trails the group opted to return to the cars via the more direct yellow blazed McDermott Nature Trail which is co-located with the blue blazed access trail.

Welcome to Zoe and her canine hiking companion Mishka on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim
Photos by Norm Trigoboff

Sunday, February 25

Sweedler Preserve/Lick Brook

Hike report by Jim

Thirty-four hikers and three dogs met in the parking lot of Tappan Mitra Preserve, at the Route 13 and 34/96 split known as “Shady Corners”, for a hike of the Sweedler Preserve at Lick Brook and Thayer Preserve. . this is hike # 7-2 on our list of regular hike locations:

The day was clear and sunny, and temperatures climbed during the hike so that by hikes end the frozen mud was becoming slippery underfoot.

Given the size of the group, we split into two distinct groups for todays hike: Casey C led the faster group as far as the junction of Yaple and Comfort Rd, while Jack V led a slower group that circled the Thayer Preserves Toms Trail before returning to Townline Rd and the Sweedler preserve trails.

Both groups left the parking lot, passing by the Lick Brook falls which was solidly encased in ice, before climbing the more direct blue blazed trail to Townline Rd. Crossing Townline Rd both groups entered the Thayer Preserve before completing their respective hikes as described above. The return trip back through the Sweedler Preserve to the cars was supposed to be via the white blazed FLT, but each group ultimately picked which trail they used to get to the flatlands around the falls area.

A warm welcome to todays new hikers to the group: Pryia, Mary, Jackie, Sharon, Franz and Franz’ canine hiking companion Max!

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Photo by Jim

Report to Hikers February 12-February 18

Wednesday, February 14

Bob Cameron Loop, Connecticut Hill, Newfield

Hike report by Casey

It was a cold morning of 15 degrees when 13 hikers met at the tower on Connecticut Hill. Thirteen of us started out on the FLT which led us to the Bob Cameron Loop.

We had completed the loop by 10:50 so we spent the rest of the time with an out and back on the FLT and managed to get back to the cars on schedule after having logged 4.51 miles, with an elevation gain of 738 feet. The footing was fairly good given that I suspect some of that trail was quite muddy just a few days ago. But the cold temperature seemed to cure that problem for the moment.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday, February 17

Lime Hollow Nature Center, Cortland

Hike report by Jim

Eighteen hikers met in Cortland County for a hike of some of the Lime Hollow trails. This location is hike 37 on our list of regular hike locations:

I changed our route up a little for todays hike; normally we start our hikes here on the west side of Gracie Rd and conclude on trails on the east side of Gracie Rd. I switched that up today by reversing that order.

It was a cold morning with a thin layer of snow from overnight flurries coating everything in the nature center. The group walked Lehigh Valley to Maple Run, stopped to check out Chicago Bog, and then made a loop out of the Memorial Trail and Esker Connector to get the group back to Maple Run and from there back to the parking lot.

Crossing over Gracie Rd to continue on the Lehigh Valley trail, the group soon turned onto Fen Way, then to Hermits Way and Wilderness Way. The group has often discussed checking out the Wilderness Way trail, but as we’re often here in the fall hunting season when the Wilderness Way is closed for hunting, this was our first hike to be able to check out that trail.

The Wilderness Way took a little longer to navigate than I had expected, and by the time the group was back on the Lehigh Valley Trail heading back to our cars there was a significant snowfall coming down and the hike had run a good thirty minutes past our normal hike time.

Welcome to David on his first hike with the group!

After the hike many hikers reconvened in several waves of hikers coming and going at Hopshire between noon and 3 PM to celebrate my imminent departure to Georgia to begin a thru hike of the AT. Thanks to all hikers who attended or sent their well wishes! The gifts will be put to good use!

Here is a special note from Jim:

I wanted to say thank you to all who not only hiked today at Lime Hollow but all those of you who arranged for the use of Hopshire and those who were able to come together to celebrate my imminent departure for the AT. I want to include also those of you who are ill or otherwise unable to come but who sent your well wishes.

I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to have all of you as friends and companions, not only on the trail but additionally in the social events that we share as a group such as todays gathering. These social events have been a special aspect of being an Ithaca Hiker fpr me, and I always look forward to seeing all of you in a social setting away from the hikes. Thank you for your gifts and cards today; I will put them to good use!

As I have often said to many of you, I prefer to lead hikes where there is  a great view, a geological feature along the hike route, a “gotcha” moment that makes the rest of the hike especially worthwhile. I am sure that in the next months where I’ll be looking at some such feature I’ll be wishing that all of you could be standing there with me to share in the experience.

Thank you to all of you for your years of support in all things Ithaca Hikers-related. For those of you who have been able  to step forward to plan and  lead hikes, or oversee our social media platforms  and email lists while I am away, I am especially grateful for your efforts in the coming months.

If I missed an opportunity today to say thank you in person today at Hopshire I apologize.


Photo by Jim

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Photos by Norm Trigoboff

Sunday, February 18

Hill Road and Curtis Road, South Danby

Hike report by Jim

Seventeen hikers and one dog met at the junction of Hill and Curtis Rds in the Town of Danby, for an out-and-back hike that included parts of the FLT and Abbott Loop in addition to portions of Curtis Rd. This is hike # 57-2 from our list of common hike locations:

The morning was cold and clear; a frigid breeze greeted hikers as we assembled at the trailhead. After a quick photo the group set off down Curtis Rd in a southerly direction, passing a residence or two, some open fields that can be VERY breezy on a windy day regardless of the season, as well as Karenville, before entering the seasonal portion of Curtis Rd. The snow was still fairly fresh and not too deep or slippery, so once we reached the FLT where it crosses Curtis Rd we turned westerly into the FLT, hiking generally downhill through Danby State Forest until we reached the junction with The Abbott Loop Danby State Forest. Continuing on the FLT portion of the Abbott Loop the group continued westerly, climbing the grade towards the seasonal portion of Hill Rd. The group remained on the FLT until our turn-around time and upon reaching a downhill portion of trail that proved to be somewhat slippery for some in the group.

The hikers turned around and re-traced the route, by now thoroughly warmed up from the elevation gain and loss during the hike. Many in the group arrived back at our cars a few minutes early, so they road-walked easterly on Hill Rd to use up the few remaining minutes of hike time.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Photo by Greg