August 19, 2017

Fellows Hill Loop

The orange-blazed Fellows Hill Loop is part of the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) system.  The 3.6-mile loop is located in Morgan Hill State Forest, and can be accessed from the snowplow turnaround at the end of the paved section of Herhily Road, or from the the parking area at Spruce Pond further south along the dirt road portion of Herhily Road.  I was curious to explore a new trailhead, so I parked at the snowplow turnaround, which was empty.  There is a small footbridge crossing the ditch on the east side of the road, with orange blazes clearly visible on both sides of the path.  The trail to the west wasn't immediately visible, but since I wanted to go east first, up Fellows Hill, this didn't bother me.

The trail climbs steadily for the first 0.8 miles, but grades are easy enough: is never too steep or too challenging.  It passes through hardwoods, then mixed forest, and finally into Norway spruce plantations.  There are a lot of ferns.  The trail levels out near the top of Fellows Hill, which at 2,019 feet is apparently the second highest point in Onondaga County.  There is a trail register and nearby in the ferns, a USGS benchmark.  I was surprised to see it is marked with the name "Fabius 2" rather than Fellows Hill.  I wonder if Fellows Hill is a colloquial name or what?

jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Frankie was excited to find this smiley face

trail register
top of Fellows Hill
From the wooded summit of Fellows Hill, the trail follows the ridge south for about 0.7 miles, then turns west, descending toward Spruce Pond.  We took a long break here, to snack and drink (it was very humid), and Frankie devised several complicated projects involving sticks and pond weeds and such.  Finally, he was ready to move along, and we joined the blue-blazed Onondaga Trail briefly along the western shore of Spruce Pond.  The trails soon split, with the Onondaga Trail heading west, climbing steeply towards Jones Hill, and the Fellows Hill Trail continuing north much more gently.

Spruce Pond

after crossing the berm, the trail briefly joins the blue-blazed Onondaga Trail

the Onondaga Trail goes uphill to the left
Frankie made one additional foray back to the edge of Spruce Pond to conduct some experiments comparing the distances various sized objects travel when thrown: big vs. small sticks, fresh green cones vs. dried brown cones, etc.  He was struck with a case of flopping sillies when we finally moved on again, running and intentionally falling with great glee.  Then we were happily delayed by further play sessions at two more stream crossings: splitting rocks, filling pools, crossing logs, finding salamanders.  It makes me so happy to see him entertaining himself in the woods, and to hear the fantastical explanations he gives for his pursuits.

back out at Herhily Road looking north toward the snowplow turnaround
Fellows Hill Loop is a great little loop with many points of interest along the way.  I have been curious about it for years... I distinctly remember considering it a few years back and deciding the 3.6 miles and 600 feet elevation gain were probably too much for Frankie to handle.  How fast things change!  So glad we made it out today.

No comments:

Post a Comment