March 7, 2018
South Trail is a multi-use rail trail that follows the abandoned Lehigh Valley Railroad from New Woodstock north to Ballina Road. This a 3.3-mile trail is part of the network of properties protected by the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation. It was my first visit here. However, the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) follows the old Lehigh Valley Railroad between Cazenovia and Chittenango, so I had an idea what to expect when I planned this hike: flat and easy. We received quite a lot of heavy snow in the last week, and I expected to be snowshoeing. Parking for this hike is available at New Woodstock Lumber, and that clinched my decision: plowed lot, easy grades for snowshoeing. Unfortunately, there was yet another winter issue I failed to anticipate... snowmobiles.
February 28, 2018
Highland Forest is the oldest and largest of the Onondaga County Parks. Although the park has seen a lot of improvements over the years, including construction of the large Skyline Lodge, I still find the trail system a little odd. The website has a ski conditions page that is updated daily, and from checking this site in advance, I knew to expect a detour on the Main Trail. This was somewhat of a disappointment for me, as I have been looking forward to this hike for some time, but I decided to go anyway. I asked about the detour when I stopped in the Lodge to sign the register and pay my $3 use fee, but oddly enough, the friendly staff seemed to know little about it. They assured me it was well marked and wouldn't add much distance to the hike, but couldn't show me anything specific on the map.
February 18, 2018
The boys had been planning on taking a walk to hunt Pokémon today. I haven't installed the Pokémon Go game on my phone because I am not remotely eager for more screen time, but Erwin and Frankie play together on Erwin's phone. I strongly disapprove if they take it out in a restaurant or similar inappropriate settings, but one aspect of the game involves rewards for distance walked, so it does get them out moving more. I often tag along on such walks if I'm not at work, because I like walking and we can all hang out together. These Pokémon walks are often downtown, or to/around campus, so they can visit the "stops" and "gyms" in the game, which tend to be located at landmarks such as sculptures and buildings. Unfortunately this means there generally isn't much overlap between Pokémon hunting and hiking. I was pleasantly surprised when Erwin announced he wanted to go somewhere more interesting, and decided on Green Lakes. Apparently this State Park is crowded enough to attract Pokémon? No matter to me. A busy trail is still better than a sidewalk!
February 17, 2018
Extenuating circumstances made us wing this hike rather than plan ahead. Friday afternoon Erin got a call from daycare saying Alden had a fever and red eyes. Neither of those appeared to be true Friday night when he was home, but since it was unclear if he'd be up for a hike today, I didn't set Frankie's alarm for this morning. When morning rolled around, Alden still displayed no signs of sickness, and both boys wanted to hike. However, without the alarm (and without me getting up even earlier to prepare Frankie's breakfast so it would be waiting for him when the alarm went off), we were running way behind schedule. Beaver Lake was the obvious choice: short hike, short drive, and of course, the Bog Trail is a perennial kid favorite.
February 14, 2018
In inclement weather, I am somewhat cautious about driving off to hike solo in areas with poor or no reception. After several Wednesdays off where snow, freezing rain, and/or a school snow day keeping me from hiking, I finally had a decent day for a solo hike. I decided I would head back down to Tuller Hill State Forest to check out the next section of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT). The online maps for the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT), which carries the NCT through this area, show parking at the intersection of Carson Road and NY Route 392, "nearby at restaurant." I thought a restaurant parking lot would be reliably plowed out. Famous last words? Because when I arrived, the restaurant was clearly closed, with large for sale signs posted out front. The lot appeared not to have plowed all winter, and was completely inaccessible in my little car.
January 28, 2018
For this hike on the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT), we parked at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Canastota and hiked to Nelson Road and back, for a total of 4.8 miles. I hiked this same stretch of trail in April 2016, but hadn't brought Frankie there before. I knew he'd enjoy it because so much of the hike follows Canastota Creek. It is a basic hiking equation: kid + water = fun. Upon arrival, I was pleased that the gate to the cemetery was open, as it contains the hiker parking lot. When I was here last January, there was a sign saying the cemetery was closed in winter, so I'd been planning on parking at the nearby Aldi's instead, but this was much better. The trail starts off good right away with some bog bridges across a wet spot. Bridges are another feature that Frankie enjoys.
January 24, 2018
My original plan for the day was to park at the Tinker Falls trailhead, and hike the spur trail to the top of Tinker Falls, then pick up the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) south toward Shackham Road. This did not work out, because although it was cold today, and snowing rather hard, yesterday it was 50 degrees and raining buckets, meaning a lot of our lovely snow melted off, raising the creek levels. I didn't feel comfortable attempting the creek crossing solo in high water conditions with the frigid temperatures. I scouted upstream a bit, but there isn't much space before hitting private property, and downstream is Tinker Falls with it's 50 foot drop. No thanks! So what to do instead? I decided I would climb Jones Hill as Plan B.