Our destination this week takes us to the Roy H. Park Preserve in Dryden, and its two sections of trail. Note that the two sections are not connected, so there will be about 0.9 mile of car shuttle on this hike, but it's worth the small inconvenience.
From the land trust website: the primary natural feature of the 217 acre Roy H. Park Preserve is Six Mile Creek, its hemlock-studded gorges, waterfalls, cataracts and pools. The creek flows out of a wetland that is intermittently occupied by beavers who have constructed an extensive series of impoundments. Herons have used the wetland as a rookery in the past. Nearby is a large meadow and a beautiful plantation of 1,000 spruces and red pines, supplemented by self-seeding white pines. This section is renowned by local birders for at least ten species of thrushes, warblers and other birds known to breed here. Not far off the trail are a number of vernal pools where wood frogs and spotted salamanders sing their mating ballads and breed in spring.
The first section of trail we will hike leads us through the preserve, over a long boardwalk, and uphill through a section of Hammond Hill State Forest. We then retrace our steps downhill and back to the cars. After a short shuttle, the second section of trail features an easy route that leads hikers around the perimeter of a large meadow and then off on a short spur to a wonderful small waterfall on Six Mile Creek.
Park Preserve is one of over 30 Land Trust preserves and over 100 properties protected with land conservation easements, a total of over 18,000 acres under protection. Park Preserve is adjacent to: Yellow Barn State Forest, Hammond Hill State Forest, and the Cornell Old 600 Natural Area, making it an important connector in a larger array of some 8,000 acres of protected land. The Land Trust celebrated 25 years of land protection in the Finger Lakes in 2014.
To reach the trailhead, take Route 79 east from Ithaca. Just before entering the little hamlet of Slaterville Springs, turn left on Midline Rd. Follow Midline Rd. about 5 miles; it becomes Irish Settlement Rd. Continue on Irish Settlement Rd. past the south parking area on the right (this is the older, smaller parking area). Continue another 0.9 mile to the north parking area, which is bigger and newer. Turn right into the north parking area. Look for cars and hikers gathering.
For those unfamiliar with the trail-head, email Gary in advance. As a last resort, Gary will stop promptly at 4:30 p.m. at EMS, 722 South Meadow St. in Ithaca to guide you.
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