September 28, 2016

North Country Trail: Route 13 to Chickadee Hollow Road

Today I headed back to the Cuyler area to hike another section of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) that crosses private land with an upcoming hunting closure.  I parked at the New York State Department of Environment of Conservation (NYSDEC) lot on Route 13 that provides fishing access to the Tioughnioga River.  The trail follows Route 13 in both directions, with blue blazes painted on the telephone poles.  I walked west for 0.4 mile until the trail turns north at West Keeney Road, following a hedgerow and field edges away from the road and toward the woods. 

The trail climbs steeply through numerous switchbacks over the next mile.  The forest is beautiful, but until the trail tops over the top of the ridge, the noise from the traffic on Route 13 is a bit of a distraction.  There are a lot of big trucks using this road, and it is loud.  Once the ridge is crested, the noise is muted and then fades completely.  The trail continues through gorgeous forest, eventually entering Morgan Hill State Forest.  The NCT crosses the seasonal Chickadee Hollow Road once, then passes a trail register, then crosses Chickadee Hollow Road a second time.  This was my planned turn around point, as I'd hiked this far from the other direction this spring.  However, I wasn't quite ready to turn back yet, so I continued on to the power line, where I took a quick break for a drink and snack before starting back the way I came. 

I had the good fortune of twice crossing paths and chatting with Anne and Bill, a couple of trail volunteers.  He is 87 and she 85, and they were out there hiking with loppers and a hand saw.  What an inspiration!  All that hiking has kept them young.  I am grateful I got to meet them and thank them in person for all the hard work they do on these trails.  The Onondaga Trail or Onondaga Section of the NCT is truly one of the nicest trails around and it is entirely due to the efforts of volunteers like Bill and Anne.  Thank you!

The out-and-back hike totaled 7.6 miles with approximately 940 feet elevation gain.

NYSDEC parking lot on Route 13
 at West Keeney Road, the trail turns north heads cross-country, following hedgerow and field edges

pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)

shiny new trail register

New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

New York State Route 13

September 25, 2016

Great Bear in September

Erin and I wanted to get together for another hike, and since we hadn't been to Great Bear Farms since spring, we decided to meet there.  We took what has become our default short loop, down to the river via Alec's Trail and back via Great Bear Road.  There are so many more trails available here, but we're always trying to fit our hikes into a narrow window, constrained on the front end by how long it takes Frankie and I to get out there, and at the back end by Alden needing to get home for his nap.  And since we can't possibly skip the river, this is where we go.  It is a lovely little walk and fits our needs for now.  Someday those boys will be ready for a longer loop!

It was chilly when we arrived, still in the 40s, and there was still a little mist on river when we arrived.  It burned off quickly with the rising temperatures, but I was pleased we made it in time to see the end of it.  Frankie threw rocks and riverweed into the water, we saw another bald eagle, and we snacked at the picnic table.  Erin wore the big Kelty carrier, but Alden never ended up needing to ride.  He did ask to be picked up a number of times, but after being carried briefly on Erin's hip, was always willing to walk some more.   So that was a big development for the little guy -- he did really great.  It was such a beautiful day in the woods!  I love fall in Central New York so much. 

hands in his pockets due to the chilly temperatures

another stick hound

download map from Friends of Great Bear

September 21, 2016

North Country Trail: Maxon Creek State Forest

Since Erwin was joining me for the day's adventure, we took advantage of having two cars and hiked a 5.0 mile traverse, dropping one car at the parking area along Route 13 just south of Cuyler, and taking the other up to Stoney Brook Road.  This is right near where the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) splits off from the white-blazed Finger Lakes Trail and starts following the blue-blazed Onondaga Trail.  We included short roadwalks along Stoney Brook Road, Cuyler Hill Road, and Midlun Road, which were well worth it for the wide open views of the rolling hills.  All are low traffic rural roads, and we were passed by just one vehicle in the 0.9 mile we spent on the roads. 

Where Midlun Road turns west, the trail leaves the pavement, turning first onto a farm lane, and then onto a narrow footpath shortly thereafter.  The trail passes an old overgrown cemetery, then after some time in the woods, crosses a narrow pipeline right-of-way.  After passing the deadend of Midlun Spur Road, the trail follows a two track down the hill and soon enters Maxon Creek State Forest.  The change in the forest is immediately visible, and this section of trail is quite lovely.  Then the trail begins the steady descent to Route 13.  The five miles passed quickly, and I would have liked to keep hiking.  However, it was a 45 minute drive to get down there, and we'd gotten out a little later than I would prefer, so I headed home.  I had no trouble showering, eating lunch, and starting some laundry before picking Frankie up from school.  

I selected this hike for today because the private land the trail crosses between Maxon Creek State Forest and Route 13 is closed for hunting starting next month.  The adjacent section of trail north of Route 13 has a similar closure, so I hope to get out for another hike in this area again soon. 

views along Stoney Brook Road

looking back east along Stoney Brook Road - the parking area is just inside the treeline

heading west on Stoney Brook Road
Cuyler Hill Road

on the State Forest now

this is another section of trail with hunting closures