Report to Hikers October 30 – November 5

Wednesday, November 1

Lime Hollow Nature Center

Hiker report by Jim

Nineteen hikers met in Cortland County for a hike of the Lime Hollow Nature Center trails, hike # 37 on our list of regular hike locations:

The day was cool with light breezes as the group gathered in the parking lot on Gracie Rd, a dusting of snow on the ground remaining from the overnight low temperatures. Hikers initially set off in a westerly direction on the Lehigh Valley Trail, before turning onto the Hawthorne Connector (currently undergoing a re-route ) and completing a circuit of the High Vista Loop. Returning to the Lehigh Valley trail we quickly turned onto Hermits Way and then Fen Way, which took the group in a circle back to the Lehigh Valley Trail. Here the group encountered a fairy large group of school kids , the only other people we saw during our hike today. Returning to Gracie Rd the group continued on the Lehigh Valley Trail in an easterly direction until we reached Maple Run. The group hiked to the Chicago Bog, paused briefly for some photos, and continued on the Philips Memorial Trail to the lower parking lot on Gracie Rd. From there we took the Esker Connector back to Maple Run, then back to the Lehigh Valley Trail and our cars. As we arrived back at the cars a light snow began to fall; despite ending a few minutes early I heard no complaints from the hikers.

Photo by Jim

Saturday, November 4

Buttermilk Fall State Park

Hiker report by Jim

Twenty-eight hikers met on Yaple Rd in the Town of Danby for a hike of trails around Upper Buttermilk Falls State Park. This location is hike 10-2 on the list of our regular hike locations:

This was a re-attempt of an earlier hike this summer which had been rained out soon after we started that hike; my intent today was to simply re-do the planned route of the earlier hike, which would have had the group circling Lake Treman and visiting the La Tourelle trail along the way. Unsurprisingly we found that the website for Buttermilk Falls State Park was not updated and while it showed that all trails were still open, this was not the case. Entering the park via the FLT spur trail the group paused at the dam for a group photo. Since the path across the dam was now seasonally closed I re-routed the group to the Bear Trail and upon reaching West King Rd we did a partial loop of the Gorge and Rim Trails. Returning to upper Buttermilk Falls State Park the group road walked back to the Treman Lake Trail and returned to Yaple Rd. We ran into numerous other park patrons along our route; the warm weather and dry trail conditions added to the hike being an enjoyable fall morning for everyone compared to the last hike here.

A warm welcome to Eric, Arlene and Michael on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim

Sunday, November 5

Hammond Hill State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-eight hikers and two dogs met on the paved portion of Canaan Rd, just over the county line in Tioga County, for a loop hike of some of the Hammond Hill State Forest trails. This was hike 31-2 on our list of regular hike locations: .

The day was a little overcast, and throughout the hike we were getting small amounts of precipitation and wind. Still, overall, an enjoyable morning to be on the trail. From the parking area the group did a loop of the Rabbit Run snowmobile trail, followed by multi-use trails blue 1, yellow 6 and 7, with yellow 8 trail thrown in as a quick out-and-back last-minute addition to burn up some time. We had the trails to ourselves except for one bicyclist we encountered along the way. Trail conditions were excellent. The group got back to our cars about ten minutes sooner than expected.

Welcome to Chuck, Andrew and Andrew’s canine hiking partner Porsche, on their first hike with the group!

Photos by Leigh Ann

The Future of Weekly Hike Reports

For those who receive their news about the group through our WordPress site and aren’t on either our email list, our Meetup page or our Facebook group, I’m putting out the following information for your awareness.

Nancy H is ending her role of publishing the weekly post-hike reports that she’s been responsible for since Stephen and Susan stepped down from leading the group ( thank you Nancy for your dedication to this task! ). Nancy has asked that I forward the following message about having someone else take over that responsibility. If no one steps forward to take over, the weekly hike reports will cease. Individual hike leaders may still post post-hike reports on Meetup and Facebook, but the weekly reports will stop. Nancy’s message follows:

“Due to increased family responsibilities, I can no longer compile the weekly hike reports. So, we need one or more volunteers to step forward and take over this task.

Here’s how the process works: Each week, hike leaders write up their reports and email them to me. I also receive photos of hikes via email. In WordPress, I create a new post and copy/paste the reports, then add the relevant photos. Next, I publish the post to our Ithaca Hikers website. When the post is published, it also goes out to everyone who’s subscribed to the hike reports.

You don’t need to be a WordPress expert to post the reports. If you’re interested, I can teach you the basics. If you can help, please get in touch with Jim and/or with me at


Nancy H.”

Report to Hikers October 16 – October 22

Wednesday October 18

Watkins Glen State Park

Hike report by Nancy L.

Seventeen hikers met where the Finger Lakes Trail crosses Whites Hollow Road and there is a blocked access road to the park, called Punch Bowl Road. The FLT follows Punch Bowl Road a short distance and then cuts off toward a feeder creek to Watkins Glen gorge. 

A short distance along the trail, we came to a nice pond, probably the Punch Bowl. In that spot is a large, enticing, but seemingly unused, pavilion.  From there we followed the Finger Lakes Trail along the creek. Shortly beyond the pavilion, there is a tall sheer dam with a waterfall.  

A bit later, the trail joins up with an old dirt road that proceeds gradually downhill. It passes under a very tall and impressive railroad bridge. 

From there, we proceeded more steeply downhill until we reached a stairway down to a bridge over the Watkins Glen Gorge to the Gorge Trail. There was time to explore a long stretch of the gorge and its dramatic geology.  

On the way back, we were able to return to the cars more quickly by taking the roadlike portion of the FLT and then staying on various parts of the Punch Bowl Road until we were back at our starting point.

Photos by Nancy L. and Randy

View Nancy and Randy’s photo album.

Saturday October 21

Shindagin Hollow State Forest, Brooktondale

No report was submitted for this hike.

Photo by Jack V.

Sunday October 22

Kennedy State Forest

Hike report by Jim

This was the first time the Ithaca Hikers have taken this particular route in Kennedy State Forest, so prior to Sunday morning there was no number assigned to this hike on our hikes list. Since getting home I’ve added it to our hikes page as hike #40-5.

Fourteen hikers and a dog met on the seasonal portion of Owego Hill Road in Kennedy State Forest, for a loop hike on a very rainy and windy day. I warned the group ahead of the hike that, based on my prehike of the route on Saturday afternoon, I expected the hike to run over our normal two-hour duration by about 15 minutes.

Starting from where the Spanish Loop turns back into the woods after a long road walk section, the group travelled downhill, making a stream crossing and following the stream for a while before starting a fairly prolonged uphill section. After that initial climb, the path mostly levels off as it winds through a mix of hardwoods and pines. The Spanish Loop crosses a utility right-of-way and an old logging road or two, which breaks you out of the woods and gives a brief view of the sky and surrounding area.

On today’s hike, we passed by a couple of springs and bivouac sites at various points, indicated by signage placed by trail creator/ maintainers Alex and Michelle Gonzalez. The trail displays some of the attention to detail that Alex and Michelle are known for, such as short stone walls lining the trails or chairs situated at critical points so that solitary hikers can pause to rest or enjoy the views in their journey through the woods.

The Spanish Loop weaves its way through some nice sections of forest and passes by the end of the new Ukraine Loop. Continuing to the FLT, we turned west, crossing over Owego Hill Road again and continuing on the FLT for a fairly long descent.

Here, the FLT again loops through some nice sections of woods as it follows a stream, and crosses one or two intersecting trails that lead to other parts of Kennedy forest. Despite the persistent and fluctuating volume of rain, hikers at various times noted the silence we were experiencing in the woods (other than the hum of conversation in the line of hikers).

We reached the other end of the Ukraine Loop, which is a 1.1 mile mix of uphill and switchbacks and more woodsy walks through the forest along streams and through logging roads. The group took the Ukraine Loop back to Owego Hill Road. This put us within a 10-15 minute road walk back to our cars and the end of the hike.

Overall, trail conditions were muddier than I had observed on my prehike of the route Saturday afternoon. The steady rain had transformed a few short sections of trail into flowing streams. At various points along the route, the footpath was awash with a variety of colors from the leaves covering the ground.  The route is well blazed.

Despite my early pessimism about going over our usual two-hour hike time, the lead hikers arrived back at their cars at exactly the two-hour mark.

We had the trails to ourselves today; we encoutnered no other hikers along the way.

Thanks to all who showed up for the hike despite the weather! I expect to bring the group back to this hike in the future when better weather conditions prevail.

Photo by Mary Jo

Photos by Leigh Ann

Report to Hikers October 9 – October 15

Wednesday October 11

Finger Lakes National Forest

Hike report by Mark S.

Nineteen hikers and one dog met near Reynoldsville for a loop hike of the Finger Lakes National Forest trails. Two additional hikers showed up late,
and they headed north on the Interloken trail.

This hike is not on our website’s hike list. I chose this hike hoping for peak fall colors, but the colors were rather muted and the day was fairly gloomy under the forest canopy. Temperatures were cool, but hikers warmed up within a few minutes of starting the hike.

I led the group on an entertaining loop combining forest trail and open fields. The views from the fields were somewhat hazy at a distance but still very enjoyable. We had some light but manageable breezes while traversing the open fields, and no rain at all over the duration of the hike.

We did a short out-and-back on the Ravine Trail to Burnt Hill Road. Three hikers extended their hike by continuing on the Ravine Trail loop.

Photo by June

Saturday October 14

Roy H. Park Preserve and Hammond Hill SF

Hike report by Jim

Seventeen hikers met in the north parking lot of the Roy H. Park Preserve for a hike into Hammond Hill State Forest. This is hike #32 on our hike list.

The sky was overcast at the hike’s start. We crossed the boardwalk and entered the forest. In the past, I’ve often found the lower parts of the trail system to be very muddy, but these weren’t in bad shape today. We ascended the hillside, and I noticed some downed trees along the way that are overdue for being removed. I also noticed that, with the freshly fallen leaves obscuring the trail, there is a real shortage of red trail markers in many places between the parking lot and Hammond Hill Road. This was particularly a problem on the return leg of the hike. Although it would be difficult to get seriously lost on this section of trail, the issue should be addressed.

We reached Hammond Hill Road and stopped briefly for a group picture before proceeding with the hike. The climb to Hammond Hill Road had gone very quickly, so Casey C. took over leading the group and we continued onto the Hammond Hill trail system, taking the yellow-blazed trails to the seasonal part of Canaan Road and beyond before turning around.

On the return leg of the hike, light rain started to fall. This turned into a steady rain by the time we’d reached our cars.

We shared the trails today with a good number of runners, dog walkers, and bicyclists.

Sunday October 15

Upper Treman SP, Enfield

Hike report by Jim

The rain fell Sunday until we were just getting our hike underway. Despite the wet morning, 17 hikers and four dogs met on Woodard Road in Enfield, where the Finger Lakes Trail crosses, for a loop hike spliced together from the FLT and several roads and park trails. This is hike #12 on our website. 

Hikers posed for a group photo and then set off on the FLT toward the bridge that crosses Fishkill Creek. Once across the bridge, we took the seasonal portion of Butternut Creek Road to the junction with Van Ostrand Road. When we emerged onto Van Ostrand Road, the sun came out, and the remainder of the hike was an enjoyably sunny day with some light breezes.

We walked Van Ostrand Road until we turned onto Thomas Road, which led us back to Butternut Creek Road and the continuation of the FLT into upper Robert Treman State Park.

In the park, we walked to the Lucifer Falls overlook on the Rim Trail before splitting into two subgroups. The smaller group took the Rim Trail back to upper Treman. Because the stone stairs and the Gorge Trail have not yet closed for the season, this was our last chance to enjoy those parts of the trail system. The larger group of hikers took the stone stairs down to ground level at the base of Lucifer Falls before taking the Gorge Trail back to the upper park.

From the area of the Old Mill, hikers took the CCC trail back to the FLT and from there back to our cars. There were many other hikers on the Gorge Trail, some from distant locations, which surprised me. I stopped to talk to one person from a group of hikers similar in size to our own and learned that they were visiting from Delaware. Other than on the Gorge Trail, though, we didn’t see many other people on this hike.

Photos by Jack V.

Report to Hikers October 2 – October 8

Wednesday October 4

Clark Reservation State Park, Jamesville

Hike report by Steve S.

The day of the hike was the hottest October day ever in Syracuse, and it was also humid. At the start of our hike, 10:00 a.m., it was only in the mid-70s but intensely sunny. The day got hotter and more humid as we hiked.  

First, we visited an immense abandoned quarry on the edge of the state park. Perhaps unwisely, given the heat and the unrelenting sunshine, I led the group in the open around the top of the quarry to an overlook on I-481. 

Fortunately, the rest of the hike was in the shade and went easily and pleasantly. We toured rocky trails and the steep cliffs overlooking the glacial lake at the center of the park. Given the unseasonable heat, we opted for a truncated hike and elected not to go down to the lake. 

The rock ravines and cliffs and trail beds at Clark Reservation are limestone, so they’re quite different from the shale characteristic of the Ithaca area. 

We circled around the many beautiful trails at the park and got back to the parking lot right on time for a typical two-hour hike. 

Photos by Steve S.

Photos by Jim

Saturday October 7

Finger Lakes Trail from Comfort Road through Danby State Forest

Hike report by Jim

Fifteen hikers and a dog met at the junction of Comfort and Bald Hill Roads for an out-and-back hike of the Finger Lakes Trail to Hill Road. This is hike #18 on our list of regular hike locations.

The rain was a steady companion throughout the hike, less noticed under the full leafy canopy but much more obvious on those areas of trail that were open to the sky. The section of trail closer to Comfort Road seemed to be slower in terms of seasonal leaf transformation, with most of the trees still very green. The closer we got to Michigan Hollow Road, the more we could see bare limbs or leaves in their fall colors.

Trail conditions were generally good despite the rain, and we encountered little mud. Stream crossings still had minimal water depth, but the day’s steady rain may have changed that. The main hazard seemed to be the layer of freshly fallen leaves concealing the root and rock hazards beneath them.

Toward the end of the outbound leg, I noticed an interesting effect along the section of trail I was passing through: The newly fallen leaves were spread on the ground around me, and the rain had filled each curled-up leaf to the brim, as if each leaf were a small bowl. It was  a very interesting effect as the light glinted off this mass of small leafy bodies of water.

The return leg of the hike was uneventful; the tempo of the rain seemed to pick up as if to encourage everyone to make their best time getting back to Comfort Road. Almost everyone was happy to arrive back at Comfort Road a few minutes early and climb into their dry cars for their drive home.

We did encounter members of a local running club toward the end of their run in the area, but otherwise we had the trail to ourselves.

Thanks to everyone in the group who came out despite the weather!

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday October 8

O.D. von Engeln Preserve, Northeast Freeville

Hike report by Jim

Thirty-five hikers and three dogs met on West Malloryville Road for a hike of the O.D. von Engeln Preserve, led by Bob B. This is hike #44 on our website’s hike list.

The weather conditions were much improved over Saturday’s steady rain. Temperatures were cool throughout the hike, and about halfway into our looping route the sun came out, its light filtering through the canopy.

Trail conditions in the preserve were excellent, and Bob stopped frequently to share his knowledge of the area with hikers. I personally enjoyed the eskers, where we walked along the ridgeline with small ponds visible in the low-lying lands below us. Crossing the beaver dam and learning about the acid bog is always of interest to hikers.

Warm welcome to Ben, Qin, and Maria on their first hike with our group!

After the hike, several of us made an impromptu stop at Hopshire for some food, drinks, and conversation.

For those interested in learning more about the creation of the preserve, please note that the old link to Bob’s book, The Journey at Malloryville Bog: Commitment, Teamwork and Tenacity in Defense of Land and Nature, on the hike #44 page was broken. That link has been fixed. This excellent book is available both in print and Kindle formats here.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.