This is one of our best hikes. The high point is walking up and down the steep slope from the open fields below in the inlet valley to Town Line Road near the top of the hill. There are also another big field and a large pine grove beyond Town Line Rd. within the Thayer Preserve; it is all very pleasing to walk through and has several stream crossings that can be fun.
Be sure to check out the falls on the valley floor where the blue- and white-blazed trails converge, either on the way up or the way down the hillside. The brook flow can be low sometimes in dry weather, but if there’s enough water running the falls are delightful to visit. In winter, if you’re lucky you may find the falls encased in a sheath of ice – a uniquely attractive but relatively rare sight.
Click here and scroll down to see a map that clearly shows the trails that make up this walk.
Hike #7-1: Meet at the corner of Sandbank Road and Town Line Road, Danby
This location is the best meeting point for a quick up-and-down the slope to visit the falls on the valley floor. And it avoids the hunting season trail closures encountered when coming from meet-up location #2.
Click here to see the Google Maps page showing the meeting point for hike #7-1 .
Hike #7-2: Meet at Shady Corners parking area, 1027 Elmira Rd.
When we start from this location, the trail initially skirts two big fields and then crosses Lick Brook. This is where the steep uphills start.
The blue-blazed trail runs up the hill along the rim of the gorge. This route can be very abrupt and strenuous, although work was recently done to add switchbacks, which lessen the hiking difficulty. There are great, dramatic views along this trail that are quite beautiful.
The white-blazed trail, officially part of the Finger Lakes Trail, is a more gradual but equally beautiful and dramatic way up or down the slope. Both routes are fabulous.
Across Town Line Road, the orange-blazed “Tom’s Trail” enters the Thayer Preserve and runs through pine woods before making a quick right turn onto a blue-blazed trail. This trail crosses and follows the stream before bringing us back to Town Line Rd. (The orange-blazed trail beyond the blue blazed trail split continues through the woods before veering out onto an open field.) This section is not as dramatic as the uphill routes within the Sweedler Nature Preserve, but very satisfying.
Click here to see the Google Maps page showing the meetup location for hike #7-2.
We’ll meet in the dirt parking lot off Route 34/96 northbound, precisely where Route 13 northbound coming up from Elmira joins in (commonly known as Shady Corners). The parking lot is down a little hill and right next to Enfield Creek.
Warning: If you’re coming from Ithaca, NEVER try to pull into the parking lot directly from the southbound lanes – this can be VERY dangerous. Instead, keep going south on NY34/96 (after Route 13 breaks away toward Elmira). After a few hundred feet you’ll come to a U-turn – head back north toward Ithaca on 34/96 and watch for the parking lot entrance on your right.
Last edit 12/2022 JFR