Report to Hikers July 4 – July 10

Monday July 4

Monkey Run Natural Area, south side of Fall Creek, Varna

Hike report by Jim

For our Independence Day hike, 19 hikers and two dogs set off from the dead end on Monkey Run Road for a hike of the Cayuga Trail system on the southern side of Fall Creek.

The day was warm and the trails almost entirely dry due to a lack of any recent rain. The skies were a deep blue, the long tendrils of white clouds overhead quickly pushed their way across the sky as we set off; soon the skies were entirely clear.

We set off heading west, quickly scaling the low bluffs beyond the parking lot and dropping down to the unimproved roads and open fields closer to Varna.

After a quick roadwalk, we were soon plunging into the woods to follow the red-blazed trails along the creek. Here we shared the trail with a handful of dog walkers. Here and there, people were wading in the creek in an effort to escape the day’s heat. We made a quick stop along the stream for photos and soon moved on.

The trail winds along the creek before climbing the surrounding hills. At the top of the high bluffs, we stopped to look down at the creek before continuing.

The red-blazed trail descends back to creek level, and the trail winds in and out along the shoreline. For the most part the trail was clear and easily navigated; in some parts the summer undergrowth in all of its peak summer height crowded the footpath. Occasionally we had to navigate around a fallen tree that hadn’t yet been cleared from the path.

Eventually we reached our turnaround point and retraced our steps to the orange-blazed side trail that returns directly to the Monkey Run Rd. parking lot.

Thanks to all who took time out of their holiday plans to join the group today!

I believe that the Monkey Run area trails, being maintained by the CTC, count as FLT miles for the purposes of the FLT60 patch. If so, we covered 4.1 miles on the Cayuga Trails trail system today.

Photos by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

Photos by Cian

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

View Cian’s photo album.

Wednesday July 6

Jenksville State Forest, Tioga County

Hike report by Jim

Seven people met for the Wednesday hike in Jenksville State Forest. It was a little overcast at the beginning of the hike, but by the halfway point, when we came near some open field vistas, the sun was out. Other than swarms of gypsy moths there were no bugs, no mud, and little in the way of humidity that can often ruin an otherwise good hike.

We seemingly had the woods to ourselves as we  made our way along the yellow-blazed multi-use trails on the western side of the state forest. Other than a brief pause for pictures near the fields vista and an extensive stone foundation area a short time later, we kept a steady pace throughout the hike.

The route was a moderate one, with only a small hill or two along the way to slow us down.

We emerged at the parking lot at exactly the two-hour mark.

I would like to come back here at some point in the future to do group hikes of both the red- and blue-blazed trails within the forest.

Photos by Mary W.

Saturday July 9

FLT to Van Lone Loop Lite

Hike report by Randy O.

Fifteen hikers and one small dog met on Gulf Road near the town of Alpine. The day was absolutely gorgeous, with cool temperatures, clear skies, and a light breeze. Very few bugs. 

After brief introductions, we headed downstream along the Finger Lakes Trail.  The creek was practically dry… an unusual sight to see.  We made it to the old fallen bridge and crossed the dryish creek bed.  Some of the lead group went up the side stream at the bridge. Everyone joined back up after a few minutes, and we continued uphill through lush forest. The trail then opened up into a bright field along Schoolhouse Road. We briefly stopped to check out the site of the former schoolhouse, then continued on the orange-blazed Van Lone Trail.  

The group fractured into a few small pods on the way back, each going at their preferred pace. We ended up at the cars after nearly 5 miles, in 2 hrs. 20 min.

For a July hike this one was nearly perfect.

Photos by Nancy L. and Randy O.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Nancy and Randy’s photo album.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday July 10

South Hill Rec Way, Ithaca

Hike report by Jim

I expected that this hike would be well attended, from the number of RSVPs we received from the hike posting on Meetup. Twenty-seven hikers (including late arrivals) and seven dogs met in the city of Ithaca for a hike of the upper and lower rim trails that run along the South Hill Rec Way.

The outbound leg of the hike was relatively uneventful; the group got strung out relatively early in the hike, so we were pausing periodically for the extended line of hikers to compress so we could forge ahead. The footpaths were in great condition with no mud; the water crossings had at best a trickle to remind us of their normal state during much of the year.

We paused briefly near second dam to grab a quick group photo, then carefully picked our way down the  ridge line to scale the short but steep hill beyond. Unfortunately, the leafy tree cover blocked our views of the reservoir. I do wish that there was at least a legal side trail that would take hikers to the water’s edge of second dam.

We soon found ourselves on the Rec Way, walking toward Burns Road to burn up a few minutes.

At the turnaround time, I offered the group the option of returning to our cars via the Rec Way or back through the woods. Most of the group preferred the woods route.

Walking back through the woods trails we had taken on the outbound leg of the hike we took a short detour to the deteriorating stone stairs that lead down to the water’s edge, for the benefit of our newer hikers who were on their first hike of this trail system.

After that side trip, we took the lower rim trails that lead to an area of the shoreline directly opposite Mullholland Wildflower Preserve. Unfortunately the bottom portion of that loop trail seems to have been sacrificed during the pump station construction a couple of years ago, so we had to retrace our steps to the nearest junction to get on a higher trail.

We made our way back to the cars, arriving back at the trailhead a full fifteen minutes later than normal. Most people didn’t seem to mind the longer hike, as a sizeable group of hikers remained at the curb discussing the day’s hike.

Photos by Cian

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Cian’s photo album.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Special Hike Report: Boise and Bogus Basin

Hike report by Leigh Ann

From June 25 – June 30, my husband John and I were in the Boise, ID, area. We chose Boise because we wanted to do something memorable for our 25th anniversary, and I’d never been to Idaho. We divided our time between walking around the downtown-Boise State U. area and hiking on trails in Bogus Basin, which is north of town. I think Righteous Basin is a better name.

The weather for the first few days was completely clear and the sky was so dark it looked like the underside of a turquoise bowl. In the pictures where the sky is darker than the land, that’s not the camera being weird. The dark blue persisted once some clouds came in a few days into our trip. High temperatures were — and remember that it was a dry heat, so you didn’t sweat, you just grew salt crystals — 94 to 104 degrees, depending on the day. It was surprisingly not oppressive. And for a week or two before we arrived, Boise had gotten an unusual amount of rain. This meant the grasses and wildflowers were unusually lush.

In the town itself, there are lots of trees. Boise’s town planners long ago decided it would be a good idea to have 25 miles of walking and biking paths through woods, parks, and other green spaces along the Boise River, and some of the pictures show how green it is. Boise has a population of about 600,000, which is half the state’s population. There were many pride flags, interesting art, a memorial park to Anne Frank that is in the picture where John is reading the memorial, a great farm-to-fork restaurant, and an excellent boutique hotel (Inn at 500 Capital Street) that was also friendly and affordable.

Heading away from town to the north you get to sagebrush steppe hills, which were astonishing. We saw at least 15 kinds of grasses and many kinds of wildflowers, some of which are in the pictures of a low altitude (appx. 3,000 feet) trail we hiked in Bogus Basin on our first day there: the ironically named Dry Creek Trail. We made up names: art deco green spire grass, iridescent ponytail grass, fluffy chartreuse waterfall grass, blue wavy grass, mauve bushy top grass, and so on. We couldn’t walk more than 10 feet without stopping to look at more grass.

Farther up in the hills, above about 5,000 feet, is where the pine forest starts. John and I did most of our hiking here, specifically on Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail. This is a 12.5-mile lollypop-shaped trail that has lots of views but surprisingly little elevation change. It snakes along many hills, each of which has two microclimates. On the north-facing slopes are pine and hardwood forests that are refreshingly shady. These get enough mist that club moss grows on the pines, which look like Muppet trees. On the south-facing slopes is sagebrush steppe with expansive views. Stack Rock is a large formation at the far end of the round part of the lollypop. If you pull in on the nobbier part of it in the picture, you can see a guy free soloing it. It’s bigger and a lot taller than it might seem.

John and I would go back to Boise, especially at the time of year we went. This is because we’re more into hiking than downhill skiing, which is also a big deal there.

Special Hike Report: White Mountains

Hike report by Nancy L.

After visiting our son Nathan, daughter-in-law Bri, and our 4-month-old granddaughter Eliza in Boston, Randy and I camped at Lafayette Place campground in New Hampshire.

The campground was all right but somewhat noisy because of its proximity to a super highway.  

In the morning we set off up to the Greenleaf hut, which is at the base of Mt. Lafayette. As we went up, the going got rougher, with boulders to navigate at every step.  

But after a 2,500′ elevation gain we arrived at the hut, a very nice place where you can reserve a sleeping mat in a bunk bed along with dinner and breakfast for about $135 a night.  

We enjoyed our lunch with a grand view and headed back down, which was the hardest part.

All photos by Nancy L. and Randy O. There are lots more beautiful pictures in their photo album.

My Top Twelve Hikes: Summer 2022

I was reviewing some of the older pages here last night while I sat in on Nancy H’s writing group on Meetup. After reviewing Stephens older post on his personal favorite top 12 hikes I decided it was a good time for me to compile my own list. I’ll probably have more commentary associated with my choices than Stephen had for his.

In no particular order:

1- Monkey Run, North side. Currently hike #5-01 on our hikes page. This is one of our go-to hikes that we’ve done repeatedly since I’ve been with the group, and it never fails to be a fun hike for me.

2- Kennedy State Forest. Cortland county. Hike # 36-1. Another of our hike standards. I was worried that recent logging work in the area would ruin the appeal of this hike for me, but the logging had minimal impact on the FLT footpath through the forest.

3- Shindagin Rim Trail. Hike #26. A very visually enjoyable hike for me.

4- Monkey Run south side. Hike #6. This route has so much to offer in terms of visuals and just sheer fun for me while I’m hiking this trail!

5- Six Mile Creek South Hill Rec Way from Crescent. Hike #2. While the hike route itself is very nice in its own right, I’m always amazed that this hike exists so close to the city of Ithaca.

6- Lower Treman Loop. Hike #8-02. I took the existing lower Treman out-and -back FLT hike and made it a loop hike by adding the Rim and Gorge Trails. I worked at the two Treman state parks for many years in the 70s and 80s, and this hike covers parts of my favorite trails in Robert Treman State Park.

7- Hammond Hill State Forest. Hike # 31-5. A recent addition to our hike options for Hammond Hill, this route covers just about all of my favorite parts of the state forest as it starts from Star Stanton Hill Rd and takes hikers in a clockwise loop hike over the green and yellow trails.

8- Potato Hill State Forest Hike #29-1. The FLT from Level Green Rd to Blackman Hill Rd and beyond. This hike has only gotten better after the recent footpath changes.

9- Virgil Mountain, Cortland County. Hike #40. I’m not normally a fan of the out-and-back hikes, but I like this one.

10- Dabes Diversion Loop, Cortland County. Hike #48-1. Combines Dabes Diversion Loop, the FLT and the Kuzia Cutoff into a fun loop hike in any season. Some nice views across the fields at the junction of Dabes and the FLT!

11- The FLT from Eastman Hill Rd, Tompkins/ Tioga county line. Hike # 50. While parts of the abandoned parts of Eastman Hill Rd make this loop hike somewhat sketchy in bad weather, the rest of the hike makes up for it. We’ll be losing this part of the FLT soon due to a trail re-direction.

12- Loop Trail: Bald Hill Rd to Dianes Crossing and back on the FLT. Hike # 20. Combines parts of the Abbott Loop, Doves Trail and the FLT into a loop hike worthy of being on my favorites list.

Honorable mention:

13- Fischer Old Growth Forest. Hike #15. This is a great hike locale, but the fact that we can’t *quite* get a two hour hike out of this one keeps it out of my top 12 list

14- Lick Brook. Hike # 7. This hike is a favorite for many hikers in the group, but for whatever reason doesn’t quite make my top 12 list.

15- Lime Hollow, Cortland County. Hike #37. While this is a little more of a “civilized hike” than the others on the list, we have a nice route we hike in this nature preserve that I find very enjoyable.

Report to Hikers June 27 – July 3

Wednesday June 29

Lime Hollow Nature Preserve

Hike report by Jim

Eleven hikers met in Cortland County for a hike of the Lime Hollow Nature Preserve. There were no dogs, due to preserve policies.

Some hikers had voiced concerns about overgrown trails, but we found the grassy trail portions to be mowed and well maintained; we observed a couple of different trail maintainers along our route on this hike day.

It was a pleasant day for a hike as we made our way down the Lehigh Valley Trail to the High Vista Loop. After circling Baldwin Pond, we returned to Lehigh Valley, crossing that trail and continuing south on Hermits Way. We then returned north via Fen Way to the Lehigh Valley trail.

By that time, we’d hiked fast enough that we crossed over Lehigh Valley and continued on Fen Way before turning south on the Art Trail, in order to burn up some extra minutes.

We hiked back to the parking area on Gracie Road, with some hikers opting to end their hike early. The rest of the group continued on Lehigh Valley to Maple Run and the Chicago Bog. We changed up directions a bit here as I unintentionally took a wrong turn in the maze of trails, so we ended up doing the Phillips Memorial Trail as well as the Esker Connector in the opposite direction of how we normally hike those trails. The change of direction was actually quite nice, so we may do that route in the future.

After completing those loops we returned to our cars with just a few minutes to spare in our allotted hike time.

Photos by Mary W.

Saturday July 2

Shindagin Hollow State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Fifteen hikers and two dogs met on a cool, damp morning. The ground was slightly wet from the overnight rain but not badly so, as it seemed that most of the rain had been absorbed into the ground.

This was a bit of an unusual hike. Historically the Braley Hill to Shindagin Rd hike on the FLT is an out-and-back hike. Like many in the group, I tend to prefer a loop hike over an out-and-back hike that covers the same ground

I had looked over the various Shindagin maps and thought that we could try a somewhat different hike route by incorporating some of the bike trails into our route. Often this is not possible on summer weekend hikes due to the number of mountain bikers, but for whatever reason the bike trails on this day were empty.

I arrived early and hiked one of the bike trails a short distance in from the road. Once the group arrived, I proposed that we try something different by walking the outbound leg on bike trails and the return leg on the FLT. The group was up for the new experience, so we headed south on the blue trail #6 from Braley Hill Rd.

This proved to be a great hiking experience, with wide trails that were well maintained, as were the various wooden bridges and trail maintenance in general.

Trail 6 winds its way along streambeds, through stands of pines and hardwoods.

Unlike the return leg , much of the initial outbound leg of the hike was more or less a straight trip with only a turn or two.

Eventually we encountered some campers along the trail before coming out onto the southernmost parking area on Braley Hill Rd. Having missed the turn to the blue 4 trail that would have taken us north towards the FLT, we corrected this mistake and set off on the blue 4 trail. Unlike the blue 6 trail, had a number of 90 and 180 degree turns along the route, but this was still a very enjoyable trail passing through a variety of terrain.

Part of our problem during this hike was that before leaving my house I’d been looking at the Shindagin bike trail map, but had left that map on the table. During the hike I had only the FLT and snowmobile trail maps, neither of which lists the bike trails by color or number; anyone attempting this hike in the future should bring the current color DEC bike trail map.

In addition to the various twists and turns of the trail on the return leg, the bike trail splits at various points and isn’t always blazed with the blue trail discs at regular intervals. This required stopping periodically at intersections to confirm that we were in fact headed in the correct direction.

Eventually, believing that we’d missed our intersection with the FLT we opted to take a snowmobile trail directly back to Braley Hill Rd. In fact, we had made that turn just before crossing the FLT, so we found ourselves coming out onto Braley Hill Rd immediately south of our parking area at exactly the two hour mark. Either hiking an additional distance on blue trail 4, or jumping back onto blue trail 6 from the snowmobile trail would have accomplished the same result.

A light rain started to fall almost as soon as we reached our cars.

Despite the glitches I believe that everyone enjoyed this as a substitute for the regular FLT hike, so I’ll be adding it to our Shindagin hikes.

Photos by Cian

View Cian’s photo album.

Sunday July 3

Bock Harvey Forest Preserve and Riemen Woods, Enfield

Hike report by Jim

Sunday’s hike included 21 hikers and two dogs. The day turned out to be sunny, with light breezes — an almost perfect day to be in the woods.

We set off from the parking lot and stopped at the lean-to for  a group photo. From there, we churned our way up the blue-blazed access trail to the white-blazed FLT.

We made our way to Porter Hill Rd and crossed that into the Rieman Woods, where we seemingly flew down the loop, soon finding ourselves back on Porter Hill Rd. Walking back to the FLT we returned to the woods, hiking east and north through woods and open fields. The group was abuzz with conversation, a happy conga line of hikers behind me. At one point, several hikers discovered a mass of ripe raspberries along the trail and all forward momentum temporarily stopped until the berry pickers had completed their task.

When we came out out onto Rockwell Rd., some hikers chose to end their hike early, and road-walked back to their cars. The rest of us turned around and retraced our path along the FLT until we re-entered the Bock Harvey boundaries. Once there, we jumped on the yellow-blazed trail back to our cars and the end of the hike.

A warm welcome to Aiko on her first hike with the group!

For anyone working toward an FLT60 patch, this hike counted as 1 FLT mile.

Photos by Gilbert

View Gilbert’s professional photography website here:

Photo by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Photos by Cian

View Cian’s photo album.