hike #19- The Pinnacles, Danby State Forest – Two Hikes

The group has two routes we use to get to the Pinnacles in Danby State Forest.

Hike A  —  Take Bald Hill Road to the Abbott Loop  —  then up this to Thatchers Pinnacles

Meet-up: Corner of Station Road and Bald Hill Road.


Click here and scroll down to see a very detailed contour map that shows the intersection of Station Road and Bald Hill Road and the Abbott Loop, which runs up to the Pinnacles (left side of the map, half way down).

This hike is the easy way to get up to the very dramatic Pinnacles look-out without exhausting yourself on the way up. Traditionally we’ve climbed up to the Pinnacles from Michigan Hollow Road, a fairly long and tiring walk that includes many lively uphills. By starting from Bald Hill Road, we cut out about two-thirds of the climbing when coming from the opposite direction, leaving you feeling fresher when you get to the top. We miss lots of great scenery by doing this, it’s true, but the scenery we do see is excellent.  The view from the look-out over West Danby is fantastic; in recent years the view from the Pinnacles was blocked by leaves during summer months but the state recently did some pruning and the view is now more open in all seasons.

Bald Hill Road turns to a rough woods road where we park and takes on a very satisfying countryish feeling as we head south to the Abbot Loop. We’ll walk up to the Pinnacles on the north leg of the loop — it’s strenuous in spots — and then keep walking around the loop until we hit Bald Hill Road again further south. This leg of the loop takes us through some of the most beautiful pine woods we encounter anywhere, in my opinion. This part of the walk is downhill.

In the past the group turns around and retraces our steps when we reach the seasonal part of Bald Hill Road — the walk looks very different going in the other direction.  In recent hikes I’ve made this a loop hike by continuing on the Abbott Loop until we reach the Dove Trail, which leads back to the maintained portion of Bald Hill Rd where we park our cars.

If hikers need to cut their hike short, they can skip this part of the hike and just walk straight back to the cars on the seasonal part of Bald Hill Rd in less than 15 minutes

Hike B – Michigan Hollow Road toward The Pinnacles look-out, southern approach, Danby SF

Meet-up:  Michigan Hollow Road exactly 
4.1 miles south of Route 96B in downtown Danby.

Don’t confuse this with the northern hiker parking spot, which is 2.4 miles south of 96B, and which gives access 
to Diane’s Crossing. Even if you see cars parked there, don’t stop – it’s not us.  Keep going south.

Click here to see the Google Maps page showing more or less the location of the trail head.

Click here to see a state DEC map of Danby SF.
 You can see that the southern leg of the loop is very much the longer way up from Michigan Hollow Road
 to the look-out, which is at the extreme left.

Paper or digital trail maps of the Finger Lakes Trail may be purchased from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference at:

About Finger Lakes Trail Maps and GPS data

Map Sheets M17 or ” The Abbott Loop” cover portions of the FLT mentioned in this hike description.

This used to be a favorite hike for the group.  Then two things happened:  First, the hikers used to be able to make it up to the look-out and back in just a little over two hours  —  provided the group really hightailed it.  But as the years have passed the group slowed down, and now there’s no way the main group can make it up and back in a reasonable time.  So now we don’t do the beautiful last stretch, which passes through a gorgeous pine forest.

Update:  In the summer of 2018 a very fast-moving group burst out of the starting blocks and made it up to The Pinnacles and back in two hours  —  by using a clever trick I never thought of  —

The way to cut time off this hike is to walk up the south leg of the loop to the look-out, but when you get there, instead of turning around and retracing your steps, you keep going forward on the loop, and come down the north leg to Bald Hill Road at the north crossing.  Once you hit the road, turn right and walk south on BLR until you hit the southern leg of the loop crossing, and then go down the southern leg back to the cars.  It’s significantly quicker to do this than to come back down from the Pinnacles on the southern leg the same way you went up.  It saves enough time to be able to do the hike in two hours.

Second, there was a major flood some years back, and the rushing flood water and then the clean-up that followed completely changed the character of what used to be a fantastic small glen crisscrossed by small streams and full of tumbled-down trees.  The area is now much less picturesque and atmospheric.

The walk that remains still has many great elements  —  very lively ups and downs  —  wonderful views off to the left and right all along the way – 
a number of lovely pine groves –  but it’s lost some of its charm . One thing hasn’t changed  —  the outbound leg is still quite strenuous.

We now go up to The Pinnacles look-out as part of another walk that’s much easier, and doesn’t rush us.

Revised 12/2022 JFR

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