May 7, 2016

North Country Trail: Armstrong Pond via Kinney Hill

Today Frankie and I hiked the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) from Webber Road to Armstrong Pond and back, for a total of 3.4 miles with about 700 feet of elevation gain.  This was the hike I'd scouted ahead for when I hiked the Deruyter State Forest section of the NCT last month, and Frankie liked Armstrong Pond as much as I thought he would!  He loved this entire hike, actually.  The trail starts climbing right away and gains 500 feet in the first mile, but the grade is never steep.  Like many other local portions of the NCT, this section was built by the Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, and they do fantastic trailwork.  These trails are such a pleasure to hike.  

The entire hike is on private land, and it has been logged pretty heavily over the years, so there were fewer wildflowers than we've been seeing lately.  I had read on CNY Hiking that we'd encounter two stiles, but despite that, I still didn't recognize them immediately (it clicked on the way back).  The stiles were like wooden step ladders, set up to make crossing barbed wire fence safe and easy.  Frankie loved them, of course.  Anything with climbing is sure to be a hit.  After gaining the height of Kinney Hill, the trail descends gently to Armstrong Pond, which is approached over board bridges.  Another fun item for kids.  The trail follows the north and west shores of the pond, over more sporadic board bridges, and leads out to Fairbanks Road, which was our turn around point.  But we weren't ready to hike back just yet. 

There is a trail register in a small clump of Norway spruce trees between the road and the pond.  Frankie very earnestly signed the trail register himself, filling an entire page of the miniature spiral notebook.  Then it was time to rest and play, and I let him pursue this as long as he wanted, which turned out to be about 100 minutes (including the register "work" and a snack when he declared he was hungry).  Yup.  That's a lot of playing!  There is just so much for a kid to do at a pond, especially when there are red pines at one end and Norway spruces at the other: an endless supply of missiles for launching. Then there were sticks to bathe, and dead cattails to wrestle, and water to stir, and...  Endless opportunities for the very best kind of play.

When Frankie decided it was time to head back, we retraced our steps to the car, with a small detour over the second stile (aha!) to check out the scenic view.  It was a fantastic day!  I'm so glad I "saved" this hike to do with Frankie.  

starting out from the Webber Road parking area

the first of two stiles for climbing over barbed wire fences
"it's like I'm driving a spaceship!"

Eeyore was the guest of honor today


signing the register notebook at Armstong Pond

gathering materials

trundling off to gather more cones

Fairbanks Road

hard at work
explaining some complicated game of his invention involving telescopes and colors (???)

climbing over the second stile - this one leads to a view from Kinney Hill
Cazenovia Lake is visible in the distance, left of center

serviceberry (Amelanchier sp.)

interesting skull ornamentation
post-hike milkshake

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