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

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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

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Photo by Leigh Ann

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Photos by Cian

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Report to Hikers June 20-June 26

Wednesday June 22

FLT South from Harford Slaterville Rd. through Robinson Hollow State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Eleven hikers met on Harford Slaterville Road on a warm, sunny day for an out-and-back hike on the Finger Lakes Trail. There is a beaver pond at the trailhead, and as we set out several hikers watched a beaver swim across the pond toward the lodge.

The trail goes gradually uphill from Harford Slaterville Rd. Then we encountered rolling terrain with gentle elevation changes. After we crossed an old stone wall, the trail went steadily downhill to the turn-around point.

Before we turned around, we explored the ruins of an old homestead, including a partial foundation and fragments of what we thought was an old woodstove.

Throughout the hike, there was minimal mud on the footpath, and we returned to our cars on time.

Photo by Jim
If you look closely, you can see a swimming beaver in the foreground, carrying some leaves back to the lodge.

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Saturday June 25

Connecticut Hill, Newfield

Hike report by Dave B.

A group of 14 hikers and 3 dogs met near the Connecticut Hill cemetery on a beautiful morning for a look at areas new to many and get a glimpse of the area’s history.

We descended a long hill to a stream crossing marked by pilings at the site of a bridge now long gone. (I surmised it may have been wiped out in the Flood of ’35, a major event that affected the entire Southern Tier:

We followed the old roadbed beside a tributary creek to the site of another bridge, this one retaining the steel joists of the bed. From there, the trail wandered on along the creek to rejoin the old road just short of the gravel bank to which it had provided access. A steep climb to the top of the bank provided a view of another of the foothills, before we headed on to complete the loop.

Another 45 minutes of deep forest, rolling hills, stream crossings, and an invigorating climb brought us back to the cars just three minutes short of the two-hour goal.

Most of the group stuck around to explore the cemetery, an interesting mix of 19th-century tombstones and evidence of recent rituals.

The entire time, the weather remained clear, and the temperature comfortable, with a welcome breeze now and then. A good day!

Photo by Nancy H.

Sunday June 27

Deputron Hollow Road and Olsefski Road, Danby

Hike report by Jim

Fourteen hikers and two dogs hiked from the junction of East Miller and Marsh roads in the town of Danby to Deputron Hollow Rd., for an out-and-back hike. The day was sunny and dry; we had some decent winds cooling us down as we progressed downhill on Deputron Hollow Rd. The sun and leaves combined to make pools of shadow on our journey; before I realized how far we’d come we were stepping out onto the paved bottom part of Deputron Hollow Rd. near Coddington Rd.

We got to Coddington Rd. with five minutes to spare for the outbound leg of the hike. After pausing for a quick photo and to make way for some vehicle traffic, we began the return journey back up the hill. The breezes that had been our companion on the first hour seemed to dissipate almost entirely, and other than the periodic pools of shadow along our route there was little to shield us from the sun and humidity.

Despite this we soon found ourselves back at our cars, saying our goodbyes and already planning the next hike.

Warm welcome to Hollie and Brian, on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim

Report to Hikers June 13 – June 19

Wednesday June 15

Logan Rd. west toward Satterly Hill Rd., Schuyler County

Hike report by Jim

Twelve hikers and one dog met on Logan Rd. to hike west on the FLT to Satterly Hill Rd. and beyond.

It was a warm, sunny day  with clear skies as the group set out. We plunged into the tall grass concealing the footpath along the roadside and were soon crossing the first open field, its uneven surface hidden beneath the scraggly grasses. The trees concealed the blazes along the route, but soon we located the turn into the cooler forest.

We made our way through the woods, the undergrowth doing its best to hide the footpath but never succeeding too well. We reached the wooden bridge, which never fails to elicit comments from someone in the group about the construction. Wednesday was no different.

Soon we were climbing the hills. By the time we reached the old vineyards the trail was  nicely mowed, making the climb much more enjoyable.

Coming out onto Satterly Hill Rd., the group discovered that we were easily 20 minutes ahead of our turnaround time. After stopping to admire the views across the valley, we returned to the FLT and continued westward until we literally ran out of maintained footpath.

Turning around, we found our way back to Satterly Hill Rd., crossed over that road and began the long descent back to our cars. Along the way we stopped to check out some additional views from that slope that we had missed on the outbound uphill climb. We arrived back at our cars at the two-hour mark.

Other than some other day hikers we met on Satterly Hill Rd., we had the trail to ourselves the entire time.

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

For those earning their FLT60 patch , today’s hike counted as 3.8 FLT miles toward that goal.

Photos by Nancy H.

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Saturday June 18

Hammond Hill State Forest from Star Stanton Rd., Dryden

Hike report by Jim

Seventeen hikers and two dogs met on Star Stanton Rd. for a hike of the green and yellow trails on Hammond Hill, primarily located on the north side of Star Stanton Rd.

Ithaca Hikers hadn’t recently hiked the green trails, and never in combination with the yellow-blazed trails, since I have been leading the group. With that in mind, I had a rough idea of the first half of the hike but left the route for the second half incomplete, so we’d have several route options, depending on our overall hiking speed.

The weather loomed somewhat ominously, and some arriving hikers reported driving through mist and rain en route to the hike. The wind was whipping through the trees and a light rain was intermittently failing. Overall, a much different type of weather than what we had experienced this week up through the previous day. I was quite happy at the turnout we had despite the weather!

We headed down Star Stanton Rd, turning into the woods at the green-blazed trailhead. We haven’t hiked this section of the state forest in a long while, and the change of scenery was welcome. There aren’t many overly long uphill portions, and the trail in general travels through some nice wooded sections of the state forest. Despite the somewhat gloomy conditions, it was a visually enjoyable section of forest.

As we hiked the winding green trails the rain volume picked up.  I hardly noticed the rain; it seemed that the forest canopy provided shelter.

Other than a single runner and a couple of bicyclists along our route, we had the forest to ourselves.

Eventually the green-blazed trails terminated at some yellow-blazed trails, which we took in a long loop back to Times Square on Star Stanton Rd. Eventually we made another arc back to the seasonal portion of Canaan Rd. After crossing there, we found ourselves passing through the stands of large evergreens that represent one of my favorite portions of the state forest.

We completed another large arc of the westerly yellow trails and came back out on Star Stanton Rd. near Times Square again. From here, we road-walked back to our cars, completing the hike a full 30 minutes over our normal time. No one seemed particularly concerned about the hike’s length. I plan to tweak the route the next time we hike this area in order to cut down on our time.

A warm welcome to Joe and Kristen on their first hike with the group!

For hikers working toward their FLT60 patch, today’s hike represented just 1 FLT mile.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian
Photo by Leigh Ann

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Sunday June 19

Hurd Hill Road into Shindagin Hollow State Forest, Caroline

Hike report by Jim

This hike ended up being nothing like what I envisioned when I scheduled the week’s hikes. Early weather forecasts predicted that Sunday would be rainy, so I planned an out-and-back road walk on Hurd Hill and Pleasant Valley roads in the Town of Caroline. We had hiked this route only once before, toward the end of last winter. On the day of this hike, though, it was sunny, breezy, and cool.

Seventeen hikers and five dogs, including late arrivals, participated in this hike.

The outbound leg of Hurd Hill Rd. is a continuous, moderate downhill that we completed much faster today than on our previous hike in winter. At the bottom of Hurd Hill Rd., we turned right onto Pleasant Valley Rd., walking along the lower areas of the Shindagin Hollow basin that we don’t normally get to see on our other Shindagin hikes. This section we also did in much faster time;  we arrived at the FLT and the Shindagin bridge 50 minutes after setting out.

Because we were so much farther along than I had expected in my hike planning,  I gave the group the option of doing either the return hike back up Hurd Hill Rd., or crossing the bridge and walking the FLT to South Rd., a trail section that normally takes us 50 minutes to complete on other Shindagin hikes. After arriving at South Rd,, we’d walk the mile or so back to Hurd Hill Rd. and our cars.

Most of the group opted to make the improvised loop hike, while a few hikers preferred the planned out-and-back hike.

The loop hikers climbed the FLT from Shindagin Hollow Rd. Before long we were at the Shindagin lean-to. With its wooded setting amidst the pine trees and the nearby stream, this is my personal favorite FLT lean-to in the county. Several members of the group were visiting this particular lean-to for the first time.

A small group of overnight campers was just clearing from the lean-to at our arrival, so we quickly continued toward South Rd. This section of trail, normally quite muddy, was mostly mud-free and has had some trail work done consisting of flagstones and a corduroy footpath surface laid down since my last time through this area.

Soon we reached South Rd. and set out on a leisurely road walk. We arrived back at our cars only 10 minutes over the projected hike time; the out-and-back hikers were just leaving as we arrived back at Hurd Hill Rd.

For those attempting the FLT60 patch this year, today’s hike counted as 1.5 FLT miles.

Photo by Jim
Photo by Nancy H.

Photos by Cian

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Report to Hikers June 6 – June 12

Wednesday June 8

Abbott Loop east from Michigan Hollow Road to Hill Road and beyond, Danby SF

Hike report by Jim

Fourteen hikers and three dogs set off on the Abbott Loop from Michigan Hollow Rd. The morning was cool and somewhat overcast, but the climb up the hillside away from the cars soon had people warmed up.

Our group last did this section of trail in April as part of  a multi-group hike of the Abbott Loop. Today the trail was in much better condition, although a couple of spots were still somewhat muddy.

After the initial long and steep climb, the trail levels out a little but continues the climb to Hill Rd. We crossed Hill Rd., where the trail begins a steady decline that doesn’t stop until the Abbott Loop tends at the FLT.

Turning west on the FLT, we soon emerged back on Hill Rd. We road-walked a short way up Hill Rd (this road is certainly appropriately named) before turning back onto the Abbott Loop and beginning our descent back to our vehicles. By now the sun had come out and the forest  floor was alive with alternating lights and shadows.

Welcome to Linda on her first hike with the group!

The hike today counts as 4 FLT miles for those attempting to earn their FLT60 patch.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Saturday June 11

County Line Loop, Connecticut Hill

Hike report by Nancy L.

Twelve hikers gathered at the trailhead on Connecticut Hill Rd. just north of Cabin Rd. for the hike on a cool, sunny day.  Some hikers parked at the Connecticut Hill Cemetery and carpooled to the start. 

We headed west on a wagon road and quickly arrived at the Brown Cemetery, which has a few very old tombstones – some from the early 1800s.  From there, we hopped back onto the wagon road. It  had ample evidence of homesteads, such as boxwood and vinca.  

The road intersects a trail that took us south to the Finger Lakes Trail. After checking out a ruin with an intact well (be careful not to fall in one during the winter!), we followed another wagon road (the ruts are quite wide) that goes north/south, tracing the divide between Tompkins and Schuyler counties.  

After a short hike on this road, we plunged into the woods following contour lines south and east.  After our only uphill portion taking us back up toward Connecticut Hill Rd (called Ridge Rd because it goes north/south on the ridge), we came to another old road. Cutting north through the woods, we encountered a small pond, then we crossed Ridge Rd. and headed north through the woods, now on the east side of  Ridge Rd.  

Our trail intercepted a watering hole, clearly manmade because of the rock dam at the outlet. From there, we continued north through the woods and across a small ravine, again joining the FLT.  Shortly after crossing Cabin road we followed a short trail over to where our cars were parked.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Photos by Nancy L. and Randy O.

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Sunday June 12

Jim Schug Trail, Dryden

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-one hikers and five dogs met on Lake Rd. for a hike of the Jim Schug Trail. The weather was far better than I had expected, as it had been predicted to rain during the hike. Instead, it was sunny and warm, with some clouds gathering about halfway through the hike and wind beginning to whip through the upper branches of nearby trees at about the same time. Most people in the group seemed to enjoy having a hike over flat terrain on a nice day.

The group quickly stretched out over a longer-than-normal distance, the faster hikers pulling ahead of the rest of the group, including some late arrivals.

The trail was well-used during our hike, with many other walkers, bicyclists and runners sharing the space with us.

We detoured into Dryden Lake Park, paused for a group photo, and then forged onward.

The lead hikers continued on into the village of Dryden before turning around. Most didn’t make it that far, but we all covered a decent amount of ground in the hike.

After we returned to our cars, a good number of hikers relocated to Hopshire Brewery post hike. Once there, we continued the conversations from the trail while enjoying some local beverages and good food.

One issue that today’s hike brought up relates to parking; with hiker numbers rebounding from the Covid-related lows of the last couple of years, parking on Lake Rd. is inadequate. I’d like to get some views from the regulars about relocating our start point elsewhere for this hike, at least during the summer months when we experience higher participation. It would mean possibly losing the parts of the trail from Lake Rd. to Dryden Lake Park, which I know I personally enjoy. Please contact me with your thoughts.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Photos by Nancy H.