January 3, 2017

North Country Trail: Lenox Basin to Canastota

I intended to start this hike at the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery trailhead in Canastota, where I'd parked back in April when I hiked the adjacent section out to Nelson Road and back.  However, when I arrived today, the entrance was gated, with a sign indicating that the cemetery is closed in winter.  This rendered the trailhead parking closed as well.  I pulled over and double checked my maps, then drove on to the parking area at Lenox Basin, which I had intended as my turnaround point.  No big deal; I just hiked my 7.0 mile out-and-back in the opposite direction planned.

It is a stretch to call this a hike: practically all of it is surfaced with stone dust, pavement, or concrete; even more damning, it is adjacent to roads essentially the entire way.  It would be more accurate to call it a walk.  Honestly, the only reason I did this "hike," and the only reason I am writing this trip report, is because it is part of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT).  [Which I'm mildly obsessed with.]  Anyway, from the Lenox Basin trailhead, the NCT follows the old Erie Canal towpath into Canastota, which is an official trail town.  The trail follows sidewalks through the village, with the blue NCT blazes attached to street signs and telephone poles.  There are two crosswalks at busy traffic lights.  The NCT then crosses Route 13 and follows Cemetery Road to its terminus before entering the woods again.  Unfortunately that was my turnaround point, so no woods for me.

Of course, I'd researched the route ahead of time, so I knew what I was signing up for.  The NCT apparently follows the Erie Canal towpath all the way to Rome, so there are many more such miles that I will likely return to in the future.  Part of the draw is that is portion of the NCT is only a 35 minute drive for me (each way), while the more interesting woodsy sections I haven't explored to the south are more like 50 minutes away, which can be limiting when I am squeezing hikes in between school drop-off and pick-up.  I have a number of NCT hikes on deck, repeats of favorite sections as well as explorations of new sections to both the east and the south.  I chose this unexciting section today because the weather forecast was crappy (30s and rain).  I got lucky on that front though... Although it did start sprinkling when I was almost back to Lenox Basin, I managed to avoid the downpour that came soon after. 

the towpath

starting cold


Mt. Pleasant Cemetery trailhead
all warmed up by this point
the parking at this trailhead is now closed in winter

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