June 7, 2017

FLT/NCT: Baker School House State Forest

Another solo school day hike means more exploration on the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT).  Hurray!  This section, in Baker School House State Forest, follows the white-blazed Finger Lakes Trail (FLT).  I parked on Baker School House Road and hiked north, intending to turn around at Route 41 and retrace my steps back.  The last 0.8 miles is on private property with a fall hunting closure, so I thought this would be a good section to check out now, in the spring.

The trail is gorgeous and I enjoyed myself very much, but I couldn't complete a very short section (0.2 miles) adjacent to Route 41, because Trout Brook was flooded and I couldn't get across.  Had the crossing been on the State Forest, I would have explored up and downstream, looking for a beaver dam or another way across.  However, since I was on private property, I wanted to be respectful of the landowners and stay within the trail easement, so I just turned back.

It will be challenging to get back to that last 0.2 miles, logistically.  There is no parking along Route 41, and a roadwalk to the next section of trail or parking opportunity.  Sometimes I go back and do roadwalk sections of long-distance trails, just to connect the dots and know I covered the entire trail between points X and Y.  Except typically, I specifically reserve these mop-ups for hunting season, when many favorite places are inaccessible or unsafe.  I can't just tack the last 0.2-mile onto a hunting season roadwalk of the Route 41 section, because of the hunting closure, so I will have to decide whether to do a roadwalk on one of my precious few days available for solo hikes, or whether to repeat the entire section from Baker School House Road.

When I got back to Baker School House Road today, I continued south across it and, after another creek crossing, climbed 0.6 miles up an unnamed hill to the edge of the State Forest, where there are nice views across rolling farmland.  I would have liked to continue further, but was running out of time before school pick up, so reluctantly turned back.  The entire hike totaled 5.8 miles with 1,200+ feet of elevation gain.  It is about a 45 minute drive each way to this part of the FLT, so unfortunately that limits how far I can go somewhat.  There were also two other high water crossings with no bridges that I was able to ford safely, but that slowed me down a bit.  Plus the 19 adorable newts I saw... all part of the adventure!

eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)

log bridge

trail across Trout Brook

ragged-robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi)

Virginia waterleaf (Hyrdrophyllum virginianum)


Baker School House Road

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