Report to Hikers October 31 – November 6

Wednesday November 2

Bob Cameron Loop, Connecticut Hill, Newfield

Hike report by Jim

Six hikers met by the radio tower on Connecticut Hill for a hike of the Bob Cameron Loop.

En route to the parking area the morning fog had been dense, and it didn’t disappear until I reached Black Oak Rd.

Hike conditions were good; it hadn’t rained that I was aware of, but the leaves underfoot were still wet from some recent precipitation. Trail conditions were good, much less muddy than I have seen them in the past.

We encountered only a couple of other people along the way but otherwise had the trail to ourselves.

After completing the loop, the group jumped onto the Finger Lakes Trail to use up our remaining hike time.  We crossed Cayutaville Rd. and reached Griffin Rd. before turning around to retrace our steps back to the parking area.

For anyone tracking their FLT miles toward an FLT60 patch, I would say that we hiked about 2.25 FLT miles today, based on the mileage on the back of the FLT map sheet.

Saturday November 5

Tuller Hill State Forest, Cortland County

Hike report by Jim

Saturday’s hike was an unusual one, as the Ithaca Hikers had been invited by Wendy and Gary Wakula (who often join our group when we’re hiking in or near Cortland County) to do a joint hike with the Triple Cities Hiking Club. Triple Cities was planning an all-day figure-8 hike in Tuller Hill State Forest, but would stop for lunch at the parking area midway. Their lunch stop was an opportunity for us to end our hike at about our normal two-hour mark.

In all, I counted 24 Ithaca Hikers, who met approximately 11 Triple Cities hikers in the equestrian parking area on Clute Rd.

The day was moderately warm, certainly warm enough that a hiker would heat up considerably during the hike. Lots of layers were being shed at the pauses along the route. It was overcast, although around the time the group came to the upper part of our route arc the sun briefly broke free of the clouds long enough to light up the foliage and cast a few brief shadows before once again disappearing.

We started from the parking area and completed a loop route in the western portion of Tuller Hill Forest, using a combination of red-, yellow-, and blue-blazed trails.

There was only a small amount of mud along the way. Stream crossings had a slight amount of water flowing but were easily traversed. The fallen leaf cover was thick underfoot, the leaves already having lost their golden hue and reverted to a dull tan. The terrain was enjoyable, both visually and in the amount of hill climbing involved. There were some decent views along the utility lines we followed for a brief time, although there was some haze in the far distance.

Thanks to Gary and Wendy for the hike invitation, and the Triple Cities hikers we shared the trail with. A special thanks to Triple Cities member Larry Blumberg, who stepped in to lead the hike  on short notice when Wendy sustained an injury before hike day. Hoping that you make a full recovery, Wendy!

Welcome to Maureen, Stephen, Barbara, and Lisa on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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Sunday November 6

Comfort Rd. and Bald Hill Rd., Danby

Hike report by Jim

Eighteen hikers and two dogs met in the parking lot at the corner of Comfort and Bald Hill Roads in Danby for a loop hike. The weather was enjoyable, around the mid-60s with intermittent sunshine throughout the hike. Very pleasant for the first week of November!

The hike started with a quick and steeply descending road walk down Bald Hill Rd. At the Dove trail, near the junction with Station Rd., we quickly ascended the hillside, following the older pale pink blazes.

In a few minutes we reached the junction of the older Dove Trail and the new loop portion of the Dove Trail, identifiable by the newer, more pink blazes. We stopped for a quick entry in the almost-new trail journal found there.

In the past I’ve found that the new Dove Trail section is a nice bypass of the muddy portion of the Abbott Loop, with the benefit of going through some very nice scenery along its route.

The path underfoot was concealed by a blanket of leaves, but the newer blazing helped us navigate the hillside.

Eventually we reached the Abbott Loop, where we hiked an enjoyable section of that loop that leads to Diane’s Crossing.

We paused for a group photo and then plunged forward on the Finger Lakes Trail, climbing gradually upward as the trail wound through old roads, along dried-up swamps, and past old foundations along its route back to Bald Hill Road.

We stopped briefly to make a visit to the lean-to so that I could explain to the newer hikers about our tradition of a mid-winter party at that location, but the lean-to was occupied so we didn’t spend much time there before moving on.

When we reached Bald Hill Rd., we found that we still had 20 minutes of hiking time, so we crossed the road and continued toward Comfort Rd. A quick road walk on Comfort Rd. got us back to our cars about five minutes past our normal deadline.

Based on my FLT map sheet and the Dove Trail miles of the loop, I come up with 2.25 FLT miles for Sunday’s hike.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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Report to Hikers October 24 – October 30

Wednesday October 26

Jim Schug Trail toward Lake Rd., Dryden

Hike report by Jim

Fifteen hikers met in the parking area of the Kenny van Sickle ballfield in the village of Dryden for a hike of the Jim Schug Trail.

The morning was cool, and very soon we split up into fast and slow subgroups on the flat, wide rail trail.

The slow group moved, well, slowly, stopping to look at things along the way and talk to people we encountered. At the hour mark, we turned around and made our way back to the parking area.

The fast group reappeared soon after, reporting that they had made it almost all of the way to Lake Road before turning around.

Saturday October 29

Dabes Diversion Loop, Virgil

Hike report by Jim

Twenty two hikers and four dogs met for a loop hike of the Dabes Diversion Loop, the Finger Lakes Trail, and Kuzia Cut-off. Warming temps meant a pleasant, sunny day for a hike. We encountered a few other day hikers along the way but otherwise had the trails to ourselves.

I found as I climbed the hillside from the parking area that the thick, noisy layer of freshly fallen leaves on the ground drowned out the hikers’ voices behind me as I pressed ahead on our route.

Along this bit of trail I particularly enjoy the stone walls and passing through a nice section of pine trees with a thick cushion of pine needles underfoot.

When we reached the junction with the FLT, we paused for some pictures in the open field and to admire the views across the valley on what was proving to be a clear, sunny day.

We returned to the trail and descended the FLT, the stone walls to one side and the stream ahead. Crossing the stream offered minimal difficulty, and soon we’d crossed the road and met the Kuzia cut-off. I found that this area, which was spot-logged by DEC as part of their recent efforts to replace the monoculture forests of the CCC era, was finally starting to look a lot less like a jagged, wounded bit of countryside that it did when the work was done a couple of summers ago.

We successfully traversed the cut-off and, upon reaching the seasonal roadways, returned to our cars with a few minutes to spare.

Welcome to Greg on his first hike with the group!

Photos by Leigh Ann

Photos by Cian

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

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Sunday October 30

Halloween Cemetery Hike, Ithaca

Hike report by Jim

Twenty hikers and one dog met on a cool morning in the Ithaca High School parking lot, for a Halloween hike of the city cemeteries, Cascadilla Gorge, and the Fall Creek area.

Unknown to me, there was a fairly significant lacrosse event going on at the high school, so upon arrival at the meeting place hikers found ourselves trying to find parking spaces in a nearly full parking lot. This delay caused us to start a few minutes late.

We left the school property, crossed Lake Street and started climbing the entry road into Lakeview Cemetery. We paused briefly along the way so the group could reconsolidate, then we gathered for a group picture at Sunset Park

Here, the hike for me took an unexpected turn: the boots I was wearing as part of my costume were literally falling apart as I walked, after a decade of so of disuse. Leigh Ann took over leading the group, and Casey went back for his car to get me back to MY car for different footwear.

By the time all of that was sorted out, we contacted  a few hikers by phone to let them know we’d meet them at Ithaca Falls below Gunshop Hill. There, I learned that the hikers had made their way through the cemeteries only to find that the Cascadilla Gorge trail was already closed for the year.

We spent a few minutes at Ithaca Falls, then walked back to our cars at the high school.

Welcome to Beth and Eileen on their first hike with the group!

Photos by Leigh Ann

Photos by Cian

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Report to Hikers October 17 – October 23

Wednesday October 19

 Six Mile Creek and Mulholland Wildflower Preserve

Hike report by Jim

Eleven hikers meet at the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve in Ithaca. The day was cool and overcast, but I was still hopeful for a good hike of the trails.

We made our way along the trail as it snaked alongside the creek, which seemed to have a decent amount of water flowing on this hike day. We climbed the hillside and soon reached the second dam access road, which we followed to the overlook area above second dam. We paused for a few quick photos on a cool day, we soon started back the way we’d come.

On our return hike, we diverted to the blue-blazed trail that follows the upper water supply pipe as it runs along the hillside.

Back at the parking lot, some hikers opted to end their hike there; the rest of the group crossed Giles Street and descended the blazed trail to Wells Falls, AKA Businessman’s Lunch. The pause there was also a brief one.

As we returned to Giles Street, part of the group wanted to check out the Giles Street pedestrian bridge, as we still had a considerable amount of time left.

A couple of us opted to check out a blue-blazed trail that snakes up the hillside above Wells Falls, a blazed trail that the group had never followed before. This trail comes out above the falls and winds around the hill, coming out just below the current bridge above the falls.

A wait of a few minutes found the main group returning from the pedestrian bridge, and we ended the hike with a short walk back to the parking area.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Mary W.

Saturday October 22

Lime Hollow Nature Preserve, Cortland

Hike report by Steve S.

Twenty hikers enjoyed splendid fall weather for a hike including three loops at Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortland, NY. We followed the Lehigh Valley Rail Trail west from Gracie Rd. to the High Vista Trail that circles remote-seeming Baldwin Pond. 

After returning to the Rail Trail, we did the Hermit’s Way connecting to the Fenway and back to the Rail Trail. We returned via the Rail Trail to the parking lot on Gracie Rd. at one hour and 15 minutes, where hikers gratefully dropped off their jackets and sweaters at our cars. 

We then continued east on the Rail Trail to Maple Run and the stunning Esker Connecter with its dramatic drop-offs on both sides. We tried to pin down exactly what an esker is, but we know it was deposited by glaciers almost 12,000 years ago. 

Vicky showed us how much the area is browsed by deer. They make for lovely open forest but are ecologically damaging. 

We proceeded to the Chicago cranberry bog and enjoyed the peaceful views before returning to Gracie Rd. 

The Lehigh Valley Rail Trail is the backbone of your hiking in the Lime Hollow area. It is easy to put together a hike or gentle walk following loops off the Rail Trail. The elevations are moderate, the trails are mostly well marked, although some were tricky given that the ground was covered with brightly colored leaves, and most of the trails are smooth and wide.  There are many water views.  Baldwin Pond and Chicago Bog are particularly charming.  

  • Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Time:  2:05 hrs
  • Elev gain:  276′
  • Number of hikers:  20
  • Number of dogs:  0 (not allowed at Lime Hollow)

Photos by Steve S.

Photos by Annie

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Photos by Cian

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Sunday October 23

Hinchcliff Family Preserve, Spafford, Onondaga County

Hike report by Jim

While en route to Sunday’s hike, I noticed an early morning frost on the field grasses and trees of the farms I was passing. As I drew closer to my destination the sun came out, the frost-dulled leaves quickly losing their sheath of frost. As I turned onto Vincent Hill Rd., the forested hills across the valley shone in full fall brilliance; while we’re now a week past peak colors, this gave me hope that Sunday’s hike of the Hinchcliff Family Preserve would still be enjoyable.

Ten hikers and two dogs set out from the parking area, finding our way through the forest along the red-blazed connector trail between Vincent Hill Rd. and the main yellow-blazed loop within the preserve. The trail was covered in a freshly fallen carpet of ankle-deep leaves; other than the random blazes there wasn’t much to show the way for the group. A few of us had come here on a Tuesday hike this summer when the trail was much clearer to hikers. Jeff, who lives in the area, remarked that he had just hiked this preserve the week prior and it had looked nothing like it did on our hike day.

The connector trail snakes through the woods for a little over a mile, with a few minor elevation changes and some water crossings with barely any water flowing in them along the way. Casey, who was here for the first time,  remarked on the various gullies we were travelling through, and the general lack of mud that we find on many of our hikes.

Soon we reached the junction with the yellow-blazed loop trail, where we started a downhill hike. When we reached the ruins of the former Wickwire “cottage,” the group paused for some picture taking and general speculating about the history of the area.

Past the ruins, we began our uphill climb, finally stopping at the derelict hulk of a former CCC 1930s era pickup that lies in a moldering state of slow decomposition near the trail. From there, we entered the field portion of the loop, stopping to admire the lake below us as it came into view.

Beyond that viewing area the loop rejoins the connector trail, and we made our way back to the cars.

Casey would like to revisit this hike in the winter, when he believes that the leafless trees would give us even better views of the surrounding area.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Michelle

Photos by Paul P.

Report to Hikers October 10 – October 16

Wednesday October 12

Allan H Treman State Marine Park and Cass Park, Ithaca

Hike report by Jim

Nine hikers & three dogs met in the parking lot of Allan H Treman State Marine Park, for a hike of area trails.

We started with a loop of the walking trail on the north side of the park that follows along the lake’s edge.

After that we walked along the flood control channel on the Cayuga Waterfront Trail.

Then we walked through Cass Park to jump onto the Black Diamond Trail, which we hiked until reaching our turn-around time.

Photos by Mary W.

Saturday October 15

Ekroos Road, Tioga County

Hike report by Jim

Thirteen hikers met on Ekroos Rd on the Tompkins-Tioga county line for a road walk. Two additional hikers and five dogs arrived late and joined the group mid-hike.

Over the time and distance of the hike it seemed as if forest conditions were changing in front of us; this may also have been due to different conditions along different sections of the road as we passed through them.

Near the parking area the trees were a nice mix of still-green leaves and different shades of yellow leaves, all still on the trees. Other areas of the woods along the road were still mostly green leaves at ground level, but the canopy overhead was already mostly bare branches and we found ourselves walking through inches of freshly fallen leaves. Mixed into this were stretches of evergreens, their branches still enclosing the roadway in green needles while leaves from nearby trees filled the air.

As in the past, a couple of stretches of open areas to the north or south gave some really nice views to hilltops in the distance across open fields.

The group walked to Old 76 Rd. before turning around and retracing our route back to the cars.

Welcome to Rebecca, Samara, Vlad, and Jennifer on their first hike with the group!

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday October 16

Watkins Glen State Park

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-three hikers met in Watkins Glen for an end-of-season hike of the trails there. Three dogs came along for the hike but were unable to hike the gorge trail with their owners.

The day was sunny but cool, far better than I had hoped from the extended weather forecasts I’d read through the week.

At 9:40, crowds were growing but not terribly bad; by the time we left a couple of hours later the park entrance was jammed with people arriving at the park.

We started by climbing the stairs leading to the gorge trail. I’ve always found this trail to be unique because of the paths cut through the rock and the proximity of the trail to small sprays of water that cascade over the cliffs close to the footpath.

The group climbed steadily upwards; from the back of the line we looked like a large multi-hued centipede snaking our way up the trail.

Leaves along the trail were a multi-hued mix of  primarily yellows and greens, with some red from vines adding to the color scheme. A decent amount of water was flowing through the gorge, something that always improves this particular hike.

At the top of the gorge trail the group paused for a quick photo, and then began the downhill trip via the North Rim Trail. Roger opted to check out the railroad trestle but rejoined the group later

We made  a quick detour along the way and passed through the cemetery near the upper end of the park.

We arrived at the lower parking lot a full thirty minutes early, and about half of the group opted to jump on the nearby FLT for a quick out-and-back to bring our hike time up to the two hour mark.

After the hike several of us met at Grist Iron for some food and adult beverages.

We enjoyed the company of three hikers today who were joining the group for their first hike.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

Photos by Nancy L. and Randy O.

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

View Nancy and Randy’s photo album.

Report to Hikers October 3 – October 9

Wednesday October 5

Finger Lakes Trail east from Shindagin Hollow Road, Brooktondale

Hike report and photos by Mary W.

Thirteen hikers and three dogs met in the hollow of Shindagin Hollow SF at the FLT foot bridge on Shindagin Hollow Road. This is a seasonal, limited-use road that is perennially blanketed with wildflowers from mid-May until August, but it offers a pleasant forest-road experience any time of the year. It runs along a sedimentary gorge located in the Allegheny Plateau created 250-330 million years ago when the North American continent collided with Africa (DEC, Shindagin Hollow State Forest).

On this bright morning, the road’s early autumn foliage was evident. It was a chilly 46 degrees to start and increased nearly 12 degrees by the time the hike ended.

We started uphill in a northerly direction and quickly reached an old logging road. Within a few hundred feet the trail moves east away from the logging road and toward the Shindagin Lean-to. We continued through the forest on the FLT to the cedar grove and past the stone cairns to South Road. At South Road we continued east on the FLT until the trail heads briefly south and toward Old 76 Road. Here, we turned around and traced our steps back though the sunlit forest on relatively mud-free trails and easily crossed streams back to the cars.

As it sometimes goes, hikers separated early on this particular hike into differently paced walking groups based on comfort levels. There were no worries, however, because no hiker was alone and the hike was an out-and-back, staying solely on the FLT. Regrettably, a whole-group picture was a missed opportunity at the meet up.

Saturday October 8

Finger Lakes Trail east from Hines Road

Hike report by Nancy L.

Eighteen hikers and five dogs met on Hines Rd. near the Treman Center to pick up the Finger Lakes Trail heading east. The hike through the woods to Woodward Rd. was a series of mini hills with scattered creek crossings to wake up our muscles.  

After we crossed the road, we continued on the FLT until we met the South Rim Trail. We headed down and spied Lucifer Falls before turning back and taking the rim trail to the upper Treman parking.  

From there we took the CCC trail along the Fishkill Creek until we reached the FLT again and headed back to Hines. We enjoyed the wonderful stone walls and pillars near the parking when we got back to the cars.

Photos by Nancy L. and Randy O.

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Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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After the hike, some hikers gathered at Hank’s home for an Oktoberfest celebration.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Sunday October 9

Jenksville State Forest, Newark Valley

Hike report by Jim

Fifteen hikers and two dogs met in Tioga County on  Allison Hill Rd. for a hike of the trail system within Jenksville State Forest.

The day started out cool and overcast, but as the hike progressed the sun came out and added to the hike’s enjoyment as the sun filtered through the leaves overhead and created pools of shadow and light on the forest floor.

There were only a few other hikers on the trails, and I cleared more than a few of the previous night’s cobwebs from the footpath.

The leafy canopy over much of the forest was at least in the yellow stage of seasonal color change, while many of the lower branches were still a brilliant green. Some hikers commented that if you didn’t look up and only looked to either side of the green tunnel we were hiking through, you wouldn’t know that we were into fall.

Leaf cover on the trail fluctuated, which I think was at least partially determined by the dominant tree species along that part of the trail. The maples, for example, were not as far along in their transformation as some of the other species.

There was some form of motorized cross-country event going on at nearby farms, and the accompanying engine noise seemed to follow us for much of the hike. When we got to our observation area that looks over the farm fields, the valley below was packed with all sorts of vehicles and trailers for this event.

Along the way we stopped to look at some building foundations and stone walls, but otherwise there isn’t much to pull your attention away from the trees and nature as you complete this particular trail circuit. Still, overall it’s a very enjoyable hike!

Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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