Report to Hikers February 6 – February 12

Wednesday February 8

Robinson Hollow State Forest, Richford

Hike report by Jim

Eleven people met on Robinson Hollow Road for a hike of the Finger Lakes Trail. Temperatures were mild in comparison to recent hikes, and a bit of snow still covered the trail.

The first several minutes of this hike are entirely uphill, following an old, winding logging road away from the very small parking area. After a steep climb the footpath turns away from the logging road, continuing upward until it reaches a flat section, another old logging road.

The footpath eventually turns downhill, traversing a steep slope until it arrives at a stream crossing near Kimmie Lean-to. We opted not to visit the lean-to but continued on the FLT as it winds through a mix of soft and hardwood forest, following the stream bed. This is my favorite part of this hike, and it was even more enjoyable as the sun made an appearance through the clouds and lit up the snow cover.

After we turned around, everyone chose a comfortable pace that soon spread out the group over an extended section of trail during the largely downhill return hike.

Photo by Jim
Photo by Nancy H.

Saturday February 11

Finger Lakes Trail through Lower Treman SP

Hike report by Jim

Nineteen hikers met in the parking lot outside of lower RH Treman State Park for a hike of the FLT toward upper Treman and the Rim Trail. This was a last-minute revision due to hunting-related trail closures at our originally planned hike location, Fischer Old Growth Forest.

It was a cold, breezy morning as the group set off, passing under the Rt. 13 bridge and entering the state park. A dusting of fresh snow clung to last summer’s dead leaves that littered the forest floor.

A long line of hikers snaked its way along the flat terrain near the campground before starting to climb the first incline of many on the hike’s outbound leg. We crossed the service road to the YMCA pavilion and continued onward.

The trail itself  was clear of obstructions, but the hulks of fallen trees, both large and small, from many years (based on the level of decay) littered the shoulders of the trail.

After the YMCA pavilion, the trail begins another climb in earnest for a good long while before it eventually settles into a flatter stretch. Here the trail runs along a border of sorts: open fields visible through the trees on one side of the trail, while the terrain falls away sharply on the other side. The lack of summer undergrowth offered extensive views of the ravine’s opposite bank.

The faster hikers reached the Rim Trail and opted to continue to the Lucifer Falls overlook. Other hikers opted to turn around at the hour mark and begin their return to the lower park and our vehicles.

The group reconvened in the Land Trust parking lot. Some hikers got back about half an hour later than our usual two-hour hike time. I didn’t hear any complaints about this additional hike time.

Welcome to Meenu on her first hike with us!

Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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Sunday February 12

Two Hikes from Lake Road, Dryden

We had a large group on Sunday: 32 hikers and five dogs in all. We had a choice of two hikes beginning on Lake Road in Dryden. Some hikers followed Casey up Havington Hill, while the rest opted for a flat hike of the Jim Schug Trail.

Havington Hill

Hike report by Casey

Ten Ithaca Hikers and one well-behaved dog chose the non-flat alternative hike plan. Instead of doing the Jim Schug Trail from Lake Road, our small, enthusiastic group walked along Lake Road for a little way before turning onto a meadow that is famous for being inundated with knee-deep snow, extremely wet, or both. Today it was just cold enough in the morning that this was not a problem at all.

From that meadow we reached Havington Hill, where we had a lovely climb to the top. None of us wore spikes because there seemed to be no need until we got two-thirds of the way up the hill, where we encountered a number of icy patches directly on the trail. But it wasn’t much problem to just walk a few inches to the side of the trail to get whatever traction you needed.

We crested the hill and were treated to a wonderful 360-degree view. From there, we went down the other side and got to see the fancy deer stand in the open field, which also offered a great view of Purves Road and Route 38.

From there we continued down the hill and crossed the creek at the bottom. We hiked a while more until reaching our required turn-around time, at which point we did just that and climbed back up the hill. We enjoyed the view from the top and then carefully made out way back down the icy sections without any mishaps.

We managed to return to the cars right on schedule, only to find that the main group of flat hikers were still quite a way down the trail on their way back to the cars.

Photos by Norm

Photos by Cian

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Jim Schug Trail

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-two hikers and four dogs hiked the Jim Schug Trail to Weber Street before turning around and retracing our steps. The day was sunny, and a relatively warm breeze blew during much of the hike.

The trails were mostly clear of snow and ice, although we did encounter intermittent ice along the route. The path was definitely thawing during our hike, as what was frozen surface on our outbound leg had turned to thawed mud on the return trip.

Many joggers and dog walkers were out on the Schug Trail, and the ice on Dryden Lake was still substantial enough that there were several fisherman on the ice.

I found the clear ice over the aquatic weeds on the opposite side of the path to be interesting (see photo).

After the hike a number of hikers convened at Hopshire to socialize and discuss upcoming hikes.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

Report to Hikers January 30 – February 5

Wednesday February 1

Bock Harvey Forest Preserve and Rieman Woods

Hike report and photo by Jim

Ten hikers met at the Bock Harvey Preserve for a hike of preserve trails and the FLT. Overall trail conditions were good, with minimal snowpack that only a handful of recent hikers had preceded us on.

We set off from the parking lot, quickly crossing the open fields to arrive at the lean-to, where we stopped for a quick group photo.

From there, we took the blue-blazed trail to the FLT to Porter Hill Road and Rieman Woods beyond. The main group took the Rieman Woods loop out and back, while I opted to roadwalk back to the road crossing and wait for the other hikers to return.

Once we’d all reunited, we took the FLT back into the Bock Harvey Preserve, hiking that trail through woods and open fields in a gradual arc until we reached Rockwell Road.

We turned around yet again and took the FLT until we diverted at the yellow-blazed preserve trail, which took us back to the cars.

Saturday February 4

Shindagin Hollow State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Six hikers met at the end of the maintained section of Shindagin Hollow Road for a hike of the Rim and bike trails. Although it was a cold morning (-3F as we got out of our cars), all of the hikers were well prepared for the frigid conditions.

The group set off down the seasonal portion of Shindagin Hollow Road, a layer of fresh white snow underfoot. We reached the turn-off to the Rim Trail and entered the woods. There, we followed the path in the snow left by a few previous hikers and bicyclists.

The sun gleamed off the snow in open areas but was greatly diminished under the trees.

The trail wound along the cliff’s edge, and before long we found ourselves at the top of the bike trail leading down to the stream. A decent layer of ice lay on top of the stream, and we crossed with minimal excitement.

We paused to check on the “shoe shrine” (see photo below) before continuing on our way to the lower end of Shindagin Hollow Road.

On the road walk back to the cars, the sun disappeared behind a layer of clouds that weren’t there early in the hike, so I’m glad that we hiked during the early part of the day and could enjoy the sunshine.

A warm welcome to Matt on his first hike with the group!

For those who missed this hike due to weather and temperature concerns, be assured that I will reschedule this hike sooner in the hike rotation than I normally do, so that everyone can enjoy this locale. This is one of my favorite places to hike, and I don’t want those of you who sat out this hike due to weather concerns to have to wait many months before we hike here again…

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Photo by Nancy H.

Sunday February 5

Finger Lakes Trail from Woodard Road to Hines Road and beyond

Hike report and map by Nancy L.

Twenty-seven hikers and four dogs gathered on Woodward Road near upper Treman Park to hike northward and away from the park on the Finger Lakes Trail.  

The temperature was much milder than the previous two days, so I was comfortable without my stocking cap, which I had forgotten, anyway. Traction gear was a must, as the trail varied between snow and icy spots.  

Hikers were spaced out nicely, everyone going at their own pace without getting too spread out. The route makes many short ups and downs, crossing gullies and ridges. So we got a workout without noticing it, thanks to the bursts of activity.  

After crossing Hines Road we continued a short way farther on the FLT before turning around to retrace our steps. This allowed the fastest hikers to get in a little more distance than the rest of the group. 

We arrived back at the cars about 10-15 minutes ahead of our scheduled end time, so some hikers extended the hike on the other side of Woodard Road, while others chatted by the cars or left a few minutes early.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Photos by Cian

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Report to Hikers January 23 – January 29

Wednesday January 25

Lime Hollow Nature Center, Cortland

Hike report and photo by Jim

Five hikers met on a snowy morning at the Gracie Road parking lot for a hike of the Lime Hollow Nature Center trail system. For a good portion of the hike, we were getting fresh supplies of the white stuff delivered to us from above–not in such great quantities as to make the hike dangerous, but enough that it slowed us down and forced me to modify our normal route to stay within our usual two hours.

We started the hike by walking west on the Lehigh Valley trail, from which we completed a circuit of the High Vista loop. We then crossed the Lehigh Valley trail to jump onto Hermits Way. This section was nice in that it was much more sheltered from the falling snow. There was less accumulation on parts of Hermits Way than we found on other trails within the preserve.

Along the way, we discussed amending future hiking route options to include the Wilderness Way trail, which is usually closed for hunting when we hike here.

From Hermits Way we crossed onto Fen Way, which prompted a conversation about the various associations we had for other “Fen Ways,” “Fenways,” etc., that we have encountered in our lives.

Back on the Lehigh Valley trail, we returned to Gracie Rd., crossing that and continuing on the Lehigh Valley trail to the Maple Run trail. We took Maple Run to the Chicago Bog. Because time was running short, we opted to curtail the normal loop we do near the bog to a simple out-and-back hike that returned us to our cars at nearly the two-hour time.

This was an enjoyable hike despite the change to my original plan, and I look forward to developing some other routes at Lime Hollow in the next few months!

Saturday January 28

Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve, Dryden

Hike report by Mary W.

On Saturday morning the sky was mostly clear. It was 31 degrees and unusually sunny, considering the recent Ithaca weather. Sixteen hikers and one dog took to the snowy trails of the Ellis Hollow preserve off Ellis Hollow Creek Road. This is a 111-acre preserve located in the town of Dryden that was donated to the Finger Lakes Land Trust by Barbara Keeton and her family.

We started out heading north, going uphill on the yellow trail until we reached the red trail, which we took to the left and to circumnavigate the preserve. The red trail traces the perimeter of the preserve and intersects with the yellow and blue trails, giving hikers several stream crossings and lively ups and downs.

We covered all of the available trail areas in our hike that went out, up, and around once, and then again in the other direction. The hike plan was such that hikers may not realize they’d been turned around; perhaps that was true for some.

Welcome to Liz on her first hike with us!

Photos by Mary W.

Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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Sunday January 29

Monkey Run Natural Area, Ithaca

Hike report by Jim

Twenty hikers and three dogs met at the corner of Hanshaw and Lower Creek roads for a hike of the Cayuga trail system on the north side of the Monkey Run area.

It was a cool, clear, wintry day. I arrived early at the trailhead and did an exploratory hike of the first stretch of trail, which was icy. So I warned everyone that foot traction was needed due to the extensive ice.

We completed a loop of the red-blazed trails, stopping along the way for a group photo. Other than a couple of other individual dog walkers encountered in the parking lot before the hike, we had the trails to ourselves.

We emerged from the red-blazed trails into the area around the Cornell pavilion, circled around the open fields, and took the orange-blazed trail. The downhill stretches of the footpath were definitely slippery on the outbound leg of the hike, but I noticed on our return that the ice covering the trail had been fairly well broken up by the passage of 20 sets of hikers’ feet.

There was a little more mud on the trail than I expected for January, but it didn’t seem to slow us down too badly. The orange-blazed portion of the trail is an out-and-back section, and after a short pause at our turnaround point we reversed our course.

Back at the Cornell pavilion we left the woods and circled the pavilion to take the service road back to our cars, arriving there with five minutes to spare.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Norm

Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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Report to Hikers January 16 – January 22

Wednesday January 18

FLT west from Logan Rd., Finger Lakes National Forest

Hike report by Jim

Ten hikers and a single dog set off from Logan Road for a hike of the Finger Lakes Trail to Satterly Hill Road and beyond. It was a cool January day with minimal snow and ice cover. For most of the early part of the  hike, we made our way across the open fields before returning to the woods, dodging a few pools of standing water around the field and occasional blowdowns on the trail.

We crossed the rebuilt hikers bridge and soon arrived at the first real elevation changes. A few semi-frozen muddy spots on the hillside slowed us down a bit, but Jack V nimbly led the group  up the hill without any major difficulties.

We left the FLT to take one of the many horse trails that criss-cross the hillside, and we came out at a point on Satterly Hill Road that offered hikers a better panorama than the view where the official FLT footpath crosses the road.

We returned to the FLT footpath, crossed Satterly Hill Road, and began a short downhill hike toward Watkins Glen in order to burn up a few minutes before turning around. It was on this section of trail that we encountered a surprise. Stopping to make an entry at the trail register, I opened the box to find it filled with around 20 mice, one of which came out of the box and launched himself at me for intruding on their personal space. The mouse hung onto the front of my jacket for a moment, fixing me with an angry glare, before jumping away and running into the field. I opted to grant the other little creatures their privacy and didn’t sign the register that day.

At the turn-around time, we reversed our course and took the FLT back down the hill. Along the section of trail we’d missed by taking the horse trail, we encountered the only frozen section of trail: a large pool of standing water on the footpath that had frozen through.

Hikers took the return leg of the hike at their own pace, arriving back at our cars in staggered subgroups.

Photos by Nancy L.

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“What trail register?”
The mouse on the door is getting ready to go on the attack. Photos by Dennis Y.

Saturday January 21

Kennedy State Forest, Virgil

Hike report by Jim

It was a  cold, clear, wintry morning as 17 hikers and four dogs met in Cortland County for a lollipop hike of the Kennedy State Forest trails. As we set off, a thin layer of fresh white snow covered everything around us. This trail has minimal ups and downs as it follows Rowland Creek, but we still needed to focus on the path rather than the views of the forest around us, due to the uncertain footing caused by the many roots that lay just under the snow.

The FLT winds through stands of hemlocks, and the damage from the logging just a couple of seasons ago was hidden from view by both the returning forest growth and the fresh snow cover.

At the junction with the Swedish Loop, we moved away from the stream. Its noise receded as we made our way through the forest following the blue blazes.

We had several newer hikers with us, so I took a quick detour down one dead-end, yellow-blazed trail to an observation area overlooking the stream. Then we returned to the Swedish Loop and continued our hike.

At the second yellow-blazed junction, we took that shortcut back to the FLT for the return trip to our cars.

Along the way, we encountered a minimal amount of mud and only a couple of other day hikers. Some stream crossings were a bit challenging due to the volume of flowing water.

As usual, we ended this hike about 15 minutes early, as I had chosen to not extend our time on the Swedish Loop. Some hikers opted for a short, extra out-and-back hike of the FLT to use up the time, but most of us were happy despite the shorter hike.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Photos by Cian

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Photos by Norm

Sunday January 22

Roy H Park Preserve to Hammond Hill State Forest, Dryden

Hike report by Nancy L.

Twenty hikers and one dog met at the parking lot for the northern portion of the Roy H. Park Nature Preserve on a chilly morning. Jack V led this hike. The initial walk on the boardwalk across the marsh was picturesque as usual. As we entered the woods, an inch of fresh snow on the ground gave the scenery a quiet beauty. 

The trail climbed gradually to Hammond Hill Road over about a mile. When the vanguard reached Hammond Hill Road, they waited so hikers could regroup, and then we turned south on the road.  We avoided the trails in the Hammond Hill state forest east of Hammond Hill Road so as to leave the snow in prime condition for the cross-country skiers who frequent this area.  (Post-holing, which results from attempting to walk in deep snow, spoils the surface for skiing. The snow was not deep, but we still followed these guidelines.)

About a half-mile south, we walked a short way on a trail but turned around when we concluded we were again on a cross-country skiing trail. We proceeded farther south on the abandoned portion of Hammond Hill Road, going about a mile in that direction. 

At the one-hour point, we turned around and retraced our steps.  It was fun to see several Icelandic horses on Hammond Hill Road getting ready to hike as well!

Welcome to Hillary and Barb on their first hike with us!

Photos by Norm

Photos by Leigh Ann

Report to Hikers January 9 – January 15

Wednesday January 11

YMCA Outdoor Education Center trails through Ecovillage and beyond

Hike report by Jim

Sixteen hikers met for a hike of the YMCA and Ecovillage trails on the west side of the Town of Ithaca, off State Route 79. It was a cool day with temps that made the hike an enjoyable experience.

I hadn’t had a chance to prehike this route and we hadn’t been on these trails in 10 months, so I was unsure what shape we’d find the trails in. On our last hike here, we had to zig-zag through the various trails in the YMCA system to avoid the worst of the muddy sections. On this day, the trail system was bone dry, with only a hint of mud in a couple of places.

We quickly passed through the YMCA trails and soon found ourselves on the Ecovillage trails. These unsigned trails are always a bit of a challenge, but I had a cheat sheet of directions from our last hike here. Soon we were passing through the woods into the open fields below the Ecovillage residences. We walked along the woods’ edge and followed the Coy Glen grassy pathways to Elm Street before turning around and finding our route through the Ecovillage road system back to the trails and from there back onto YMCA property.

We arrived at our cars with a few minutes to spare, but no one was complaining.

A warm welcome to Sara, Tasha, and Dennis on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim
Photo by Nancy H.

Saturday January 14

Blue-blazed trail starting at Boylan and Hulford roads, Connecticut Hill

Hike report by Nancy L.

Nine intrepid hikers and a dog gathered at the corner of Hulford Hill and Boylan roads on a cold, somewhat snowy morning. Luckily, the snow plow had cleared the road to that spot, making the approach relatively easy. 

I believe we all had our traction devices on, which was particularly good during the preliminary short road walk up Boylan Road to the trail that cut into the woods on the left. A short way in after passing a small field, the blue-marked trees begin, making the trail relatively easy to follow.  The trail heads south, following a branch of Carter Creek, although it is quite a way up the hill from the creek itself. 

The forest is mostly red pine and quite pleasant. The snow on the trail, though recent, was relatively thin, making the walking quite easy.  Marcy, the young dog, was a great leader, finding the trail before the rest of us. 

After about two miles, the trail heads closer to the creek, eventually intersecting with an old roadbed that leads down to the water. At that spot, there are several lovely cascades. We stopped there to catch a group photo in front of the falls. 

At this point, a smaller but steeply descending creek comes in from the opposite, western side of the creek. A steep trail follows this creek, which allows hikers to quickly ascend to the upper reaches of the hillside and Cabin Road. 

Getting across the larger creek was a challenge. (I felt the cold water seeping into my boots when I accidentally dipped my toe in). Initially, the hillside is very steep. Casey led most of the group up to a level spot, while I took the more treacherous route along the opposite side of the main creek to a rope tied there for scrambling up the steep hill. Everyone else watched, having arrived before me. 

Then we had the task of climbing the relatively steep trail to Cabin Road, short but not sweet. It was only a short way up Cabin Road to another trail that takes off going north. A series of old road beds provided a trail along the west side (but out of view) of the main creek, heading north. 

Eventually we reached a trail heading back downhill to the creek and across it.  From there, it was a short distance to return to the blue-blazed trail.  Thanks to the many footprints, we quickly made our way back along the blue-marked trail to our cars.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Sunday January 15

Shindagin Hollow Bike and Snowmobile Trails

Hike report by Jim

I knew while I was en route to the trailhead that this would be a special hike. As I drove down Irish Settlement Road, I could see the trees along the far ridgeline, a ghostly white army that stretched into the distance.

I got to the trailhead and checked out conditions a short way along the trail. Soon, hikers were arriving in clusters. By the time the last arrivals had jockeyed into their parking spaces, both parking lots were full.

After I gave a quick explanation of our route at the large kiosk map, we set off. We had 23 hikers and two dogs (a 24th hiker arrived later and did her own hike). Entering the woods was a unique experience; the trunks and branches of trees were dabbed with new snow. We pressed forward over flagstones also coated with new snow.

The first 1/10 mile or so was really enjoyable, and the snowy conditions seemed to impress the whole group. About six people said this was their first experience of hiking the Shindagin bike trails. For the rest of us, it’s been at least a year – probably longer – since we hiked here. I don’t think I’ve led a hike here since I took over the group.

Hiking through the rows of tall, snow-covered evergreens was like walking through a cathedral, the church columns surrounding us and proceeding in rows into the distance.

We reached the first intersection and turned into a scene that was even more wintry than the one behind us. This hike wasn’t getting old in the slightest!

We continued along a gentle downhill trek, following the infrequent blue discs that marked our route, our feet crunching through the thin, crusty layer of ice under the snow.

After taking another turn, we pressed forward until we passed the FLT and finally turned onto a snowmobile trail that offered a steady downhill grade, a minor water crossing, and then an uphill slog back to Braley Hill Road.

After pausing briefly on the road, we turned onto the FLT and began a gradual climb before crossing another snowmobile trail and reaching the first of several red-blazed bike trails.

We followed these trails, getting a little lost along the way. (I had prehiked the route earlier in the week and marked my route with engineer tape, but along the way I’d overlooked a few intersections and it appeared that some of my tape markers had disappeared since my first hike. Throw a layer of fresh snow on everything and it starts to look different…) Some bicyclists had preceded us and broken trail through the layer of ice.

Eventually we found ourselves walking along another plantation of monoculture pines. The sun came out from behind the clouds, bathing the woods in white brilliance for a few short minutes.

We reached our final descent far too soon, it seemed, but we found ourselves arriving back at our cars at exactly the two-hour mark.

Today was the kind of hike I enjoy the most, in case you couldn’t tell. Thanks to all who came out to share the trail with me today!

Photo by Nancy H.

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Photos by Cian

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