For this hike, I returned to the Cheningo Day Use Area, where I had to turn back early without completing my planned hike back in January. This section of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) follows the Finger Lake Trail (FLT) across Taylor Valley State Forest. Today I successfully completed the section of trail between Taylor Valley Road and Cheningo Solon Pond Road. Redemption! The tracker on my phone put the out-and-back hike at about 5.5 miles with about 1,200 feet elevation gain. Basically, the trail climbs up over a ridge and down into the valley on the other side, where I turned around and climbed back up over the ridge again to get back to my car.
The map I purchased from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference showed roadside parking along Cheningo Solon Pond Road where the trail crosses on its way up over the next ridge into Cuyler Hill State Forest. I still need that section, too, and aerial imagery doesn't really show any clear areas for parking, so I went to poke around the roadsides and check for substrate solidity and ditch depth. I found a gravel-surfaced area at the edge of the intersection of Cheningo Solon Pond Road and Freeman Road that I deemed suitable for temporary vehicle storage, and I felt pleased to have accomplished that scouting mission. I'll be back down this way again soon!
The snow has finally all melted, and the ground is super saturated, lots of mud and standing water, creeks running high and jaunty. There is no significant green up yet. However, the very earliest spring plants are starting to venture forth above the thick layer of leaves insulating the soggy forest floor. Spring beauty and hepatica are both in bud, and tiny leaves of wild leeks and Virginia waterleaf are starting to emerge. Exciting times in the woods! Soon my hikes will be slowed by compulsive wildflower admiration.
I'm really enjoying these hikes on the Finger Lakes Trail.
|turnaround point at Cheningo Solon Pond Road|
|looking back up at the trail while investigating parking|
|spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana)|