From Valley Floor to Lovely Vista

Saturday, September 9, 2017  •  10:00 am
  • Hike rating: Distance - 6 miles; Terrain - Difficult with steep uphill pitches; Pace - Moderate; Overall rating - Strenuous
  • Event/Trailhead location: Parking lot/bus stop on north side of Route 79 east of Ithaca, just before the county line at the West Branch of the Owego Creek. (click for map)
  • Contact: Gary Mallow   607-339-5131

We got rained out last Tuesday on this hike, so let's try again for Saturday:

Today our destination is rural Caroline as we hike the Finger Lakes Trail south from Route 79. This is a diffiuclt uphill hike; if you struggle on steep uphill pitches, you might want to join us on another hike.

We will cross a Cornell Botanic Gardens preserve with a nice stand of Eastern White Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis), and continue up a steep slope on privately owned land that consists mostly of hardwoods with some nice older maples, oaks, and ash. We will follow an old logging road for part of the steep climb. When we reach the top of the hill, we will be rewarded by the view from one of the highest points in Tompkins County. If we have a clear day, the view is pretty good, possibly reaching as far as 30 miles to the southeast. It is a great spot for sweaty hikers to catch a refreshing breeze as you take a break and get some water.

From there, we will continue on into Potato Hill State Forest. At 90 minutes, we will turn around and retrace our steps, making this an out-and-back hike. As we end our trek, we walk on man-made features of this section: several puncheons and an elevated puncheon bridge which allows us to easily traverse a wetland that would otherwise swamp our hiking boots.

When this section opened several years ago, it replaced a long road-walk. The trail as we find it today exists due to a collaboration among community groups: Cayuga Trails Club, the staff at the Finger Lakes Land Trust, Cornell Botanic Gardens, a Boy Scout, and Cornell students, all of whom helped build the trail in one way or another. Most importantly, the trail here exists because Cornell Botanic Gardens and three local landowners generously agreed to allow hikers to cross.

Bring sturdy, broken-in hiking boots or shoes, water and insecticide if you use it. Long pants recommended to fend off the ticks and multiflora rose.

The meet-up location is the parking area/bus stop on Route 79 just before the county line where the road crosses the west branch of the Owego Creek. If you are unsure of navigation to the meet-up, email Gary.


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