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Steege Hill Preserve Winter Snowshoe or Hike

Saturday 02/05/2022 10:00 am

Hike rating:

Distance – About 6.2 miles; Terrain – Difficult with steep pitches; Pace – Moderate; Overall rating – Moderate

Event/Trailhead location:

Steege Hill Preserve (near Big Flats) Parking Area (click for map).

Directions: Take Rt 13 south and then west on Route 17/86. In Big Flats, take Exit 49. At the end of the exit ramp turn south onto Bridge Street. At the T intersection turn right onto Olcott Road South. At the next T intersection turn right onto Route 352. Turn left onto South Corning Road, cross the river, and turn left on Steege Hill Road. Go about 1.5 miles on Steege Hill Road and turn left into the parking lot, shortly after going around a steep “S” turn.

Hike Leader:
Tom Formanek


Hike leader contact information will be sent in the email acknowledging that you have registered for this hike. 

Hike Details:

Quick Hike Details

This is a loop hike of about 6.2 miles rated moderate. There are some steep pitches. If you struggle on the uphill stretches, you might want to join us another time.

We will hike from the preserve parking area along a series of interconnected trails in the Steege Hill Nature Preserve, in the Town of Corning.

The hike begins and ends at the parking area on Steege Hill Road in the Town of Corning.

Dress appropriately for the weather, wear sturdy boots, bring water and insecticide if you use it.

If conditons warrant it, microspikes or snowshoes may be the best call. Hiking poles highly recommended.

If you will have trouble navigating to the trailhead, email the hike leader at the address above.

Check the website the day of the hike for any changes or cancellations.


Detailed Hike Description

Tonight our adventure takes us to Steege Hill Nature Preserve, one of 45 preserves owned and managed by the Finger Lakes Land Trust. The land trust oversees the protection and conservation of over 100 conservation easements and now has over 27,500 acres under protection. Note we have a 45 minute drive one-way to the trail-head outside of Big Flats.

From 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.  They will be hibernating this time of year, so we won’t see them.

Dress appropriately for the weather, bring waterproof hiking boots or shoes, and water. Microspikes or snowshoes may be the best call, depending on conditions. Hiking poles highly recommended.

If you need help navigating to the preserve’s parking area – our starting point – email the hike leader at the address above.

Registration is closed!