Tuesday Evening Hike: Steege Hill and Rattlesnakes!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017  •  4:30 pm

 New, ealier start time 

  • Hike rating: Distance - About 4 miles; Terrain - Difficult with steep pitches; Pace - Moderate; Overall rating - Strenuous
  • Carpool meeting place: 4:30 p.m. - EMS Parking Lot at 722 S Meadow St. (click for map). Please park in front of the store but at the end of the lot furthest away from the store.
  • Event/Trailhead location: 5:15 p.m. - Trail-head, 528-544 Steege Hill Road, Corning: (click for map)
  • Contact: Gary Mallow   garymallow2004@yahoo.com   607-339-5131

Tonight our destination is Steege Hill Nature Preserve, one of nearly forty preserves owned and managed by the Finger Lakes Land Trust. Note we have a 45 minute drive one-way to the trail-head outside of Big Flats.

From GoFingerLakes.org: hundreds of millions of years ago, this land was part of the Great Catskill Delta Plain.  More recently, glaciers gouged their way over the flat landscape. Rushing water over the past 10,000 years has further changed the landscape, carving numerous glens and ravines on its way to the Chemung River.  Five such ravines on the preserve provide a cooler, moister habitat than is typical of the rest of the preserve.  While much of Steege’s forest is dominated by southerly species such as oak and hickory, you’ll find trees more typical of a northern forest — hemlock, maple, birch, and beech — in the glens.

At the Steege Hill Preserve you can witness first hand the results of what happens when conservationists and the community band together to conserve our natural lands.

In the 1970s, much of Steege Hill was damaged by such extensive logging that the town of Big Flats shut down the operation and passed New York State’s first local ordinance to regulate logging.  Slowly, but surely, the forest is healing. While old logging roads and clearings have been invaded by various non-native plant species such as autumn olive, honeysuckle, and multiflora rose, the native vegetation is coming back in all its variety as well.

In perhaps another 100 years, it will have returned to its former glory.  In the meantime, just one walk through it will convince you of this land’s beauty and recovery.  Since some areas were not logged, you can compare these with the logged portions, and track the changes as time goes on

Eastern Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus Horridus), endangered in New York and very rare in our region, are present in the preserve. These ecologically important and mercilessly persecuted animals are by nature unaggressive and want to stay out of our way.  Watch your step and be especially careful when stepping over logs.

To lower our carbon footprint, carpool with Gary from the parking area for Eastern Mountain Sports, 722 South Meadow Street, Ithaca at 4:30 p.m. If you are driving directly to the preserve, the hike starts at 5:15 at the trail-head. Set your GPS for: 528-544 Steege Hill Road, Corning, NY.

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