hike #5

Monkey Run Natural Area, Starting from the north side of Fall Creek – Three Hikes

Hikes # 5-1 and # 5-2 both start from the same location.

Meet-up for #5-1 and #5-2 Corner of Hanshaw Road and Lower Creek Road, a little south of Route 13.

Click here for the Google Maps page showing the corner and the quickest route from Wegmans.

Click here to see a map of the natural area that shows its full extent, which isn’t that easy to visualize when you’re on the ground.

Click here to see a printable PDF map of the natural area, although the features on the map are not well identified, making it less user-friendly.

Physical and digital maps for this trail system are available through the Finger Lakes Trail Conference at:

About Finger Lakes Trail Maps and GPS data

The map sheet available there for this system of trails is labelled “The Cayuga Trail.”

A Youtube video on part of the Monkey Run/ Cayuga Trail system:

(26) Ithaca Trails: The Cayuga Trail and Monkey Run – YouTube

Hike #5-1

This is one of our best hikes.  It has everything – high steep bluffs, two beautiful beaches, a lively bramble patch to slither through, one very steep uphill, many ups and downs, several big fields, ravines, and plenty of pine trees.  All extremely picturesque.

It’s also possible to bail out using a short cut on the return leg that saves a lot of time.  Overall, it’s a moderately strenuous walk.

This hike covers most of that part of the Cayuga Trail between State Route 13 and Freese Rd that the Ithaca Hikers adopted as trail maintainers in 2023.

Hike #5-2

Monkey Run Natural Area also from the north side  —  both sides of Fall Creek east of Monkey Run Rd

This hike takes us onto trails and into areas that the other Monkey Run area hikes don’t cover.  After you’ve done all of these hikes, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this beautiful and extensive area has to offer.

For this hike we walk south and then southeast on the abandoned Monkey Run road bed until we’re almost at Fall Creek  — then we swing east and walk along a bluff and then along the creek bank until we reach State Route 13.  We cross the creek on the highway bridge shoulder and then immediately head back into the woods, going south on the Dryden Rail Trail.  We walk west on the Rail Trail until we’re almost at the west end of the natural area.  Then it’s into the woods on the Cayuga Trail for a long forested ( and usually very muddy section of footpath ) trail back to the creek bank. Then we turnback to State Route 13 and retrace our route back to our cars.

It may sound convoluted, but it makes sense once you know the area.  The segment of the walk on the south side of the creek makes a big loop, which is always fun  —  the stretch along the Dryden Rail Trail runs behind the houses along State Route 366, and it’s very pleasant and different from our usual trails in that its flat and wide, as are many of our local rail trails.  The parts of the Cayuga Trail in the woods and along the creek are lovely.  This hike doesn’t match our other Monkey Run area hikes for drama, but it’s definitely a good one.

Hike #5-3 Varna Cliffs and Beyond, on the Cayuga Trail

Starting from the parking lot from the Cornell Garden Plots on Freese Rd, this hike takes in the high bluffs of Varna Cliffs and continues easterly towards Monkey Run, dropping down to creek level along the hike route. This hike also includes part of the Cayuga Trail that Ithaca Hikers has adopted to maintain.

For this hike, we meet on Freese Road at the Cornell Garden Plots parking area: Cornell Garden Plots – Google Maps.

Revised 01-2024 JFR

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