Virgil Creek Dam, Dryden
Meet-up: 310 Southworth Road, Dryden
Click here to see the Google Maps page showing the meet-up and the directions from downtown Dryden.
This is an unusual hike, not like any other we do. We’ll be walking around a huge floodplain that was shaped into a floodwater catchment basin in a major engineering project in 1998. The area is covered in grass, and it’s been bulldozed into a series of bowl-like depressions surrounded by high berms. The area’s bordered by wooded hills on two sides — on the other sides the land stretches away into some great distant views.
There’s no trees and no shade anywhere, though there are brushy and wooded areas off to the side in case you need to make a pit stop. You should consider bringing a hat and shades if it’s going to be sunny.
I find being here is what it might be like to walk on a combination of the moon, a golf course and a beach at the same time. A hiker who comes from Barcelona said the scene is reminiscent of the countryside where she grew up. It has a little bit of a barren feeling, but there are usually at least several ponds in the sunken bowl areas with some life in them, and seeing such an expanse of grass is delightful.
The hike is easy — you have to go up and down the rises and drops of the contoured berms, but you can always go on an angle and avoid a heavy effort.
We recently got permission to walk on a farm road, so we now have plenty to see to stretch the hike to a full two hours.
If you appreciate a walk in vast wide-open spaces with a big-sky effect, this one is great.
Click here to see a news story from the Ithaca Times in 2011 about the dam.