Saturday, September 25, 2021

Hirundo Wildlife Refuge, South Trails (Old Town)

This morning I explored the Hirundo Wildlife Refuge trails south of Hudson Road.  The mostly flat trails follow what appear to be old logging roads through a forest.  Some of the trails were overgrown with grass and other plants but the trail was easy to follow.  This would be a good hike for children, as there are numerous education plaques along the trails. 

The total hike was around 2.5 miles.  Here is a map of my hike.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Winhall Brook Campground (Vermont) and Two New York Wildlife Preserves (Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and Utica Marsh Wildlife Management Area/NYS Canalway)

I left Ledgeworth Sunday morning and began heading home to Maine.  

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Around 90 minutes into my drive, I stopped at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, conveniently located off of I-90.  The refuge was a great place to stop for a quick walk.  I took the mostly gravel one mile Seneca Trail, stopping to enjoy the wildlife observation tower along the way.  

Utica Marsh Wildlife Management Area and Erie Canalway Trail - Utica 

I drove another 90 minutes and stopped to explore the Utica Marsh State Wildlife Management Area.  A two mile walk on the Erie Canal and preserve roadway brings you to an observation platform with views of the wetland.  

Standing on the viewing platform, I was encouraged to see geese and ducks resting in the marsh.  I imagine had I come earlier in the day there would have been significantly more birds there.  At first I was put off by the proximity to major roads and shopping areas, but then realized this was a good use of marshland, providing valuable habitat to migratory birds.  

Winhall Brook Camping Area

I finished the day at a stream-side lean-to at the Winhall Brook Camping Area.  This is a beautiful, clean and well-run campground that is part of the larger Army Corp of Engineers Ball Mountain Lake Recreation Area.  The lean-to was spacious and clean.  The campground has flush toilets, hot showers, an area to wash dishes and other amenities.  

Addendum: If you've been following my last few posts, you are probably wondering what happened on the 5th and final day of my trip. Sadly nothing blog worthy (replacing the battery in my car and visiting a friend in Southern Maine.) 

Letchworth State Park (New York) Day 2

Matty and I spent Saturday exploring the northwest and east sides of Letchworth State Park.

In the morning we visited overlooks and short trails north of the Visitor Center, followed by a Ranger-led tour of the Mt. Morris Dam.

After lunch, we explored the east side of the park, hiking the 1/2 mile (one way) Footbridge Trail down to the Lower Falls Stone Arch Bridge.  
Matty had to return to RIT in the afternoon, so I finished up the day with a solo hike on the Seneca Trail.  It's hard to generalize from one experience, but there is a sharp contrast between the manicured lawns and well maintained trails on the touristy west side of the park, and the undeveloped and overgrown trails that I observed on the east side.  Many of the open areas on the west side of the park are mowed and look like a lawn.  In fact, in the few places where the park is letting grass grow long, there are signs explaining why the park is not mowing.

Several of the east side trails off of the dirt River Road appeared grown over.  I selected the Seneca trail since it looked like it might provide an opportunity to get down to river level to view the canyon walls.  The Seneca Trail was overgrown from the start but wasn't bad initially.  In around 1/4 mile, I passed the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT), which runs from north to south the length of the park.  As the Seneca Trail descended to the river, it became increasingly overgrown, but at that point I felt invested and motivated to see the river.  During the final stretch I was pushing my way through chest high vegetation.  When I finally saw the river, it was downstream from where the canyons ended.  

On my way back I elected to go off-trail rather than wade through tall vegetation,  I knew as long as I headed east, I would come across the FLT.   This worked out well, as the forest area was for the most part open and clear.  I was able to see a waterfall that I wouldn't have otherwise seen and enjoyed exploring the woods.  I found the FLT and used it to get back to the Seneca Trail.  (The FLT was well maintained and well worn, at least in the short section I hiked.)

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Letchworth State Park Day 1 (New York)

Letchworth State Park is known as the Grand Canyon of the East, featuring steep gorge walls, three massive waterfalls and 14,350 acres to explore.  The park also features historic park properties and ameneties such as restaurants, gift shop, store and a variety of lodging ranging from tent campsites to a luxury hotel.  

Located around 45 minutes south of Rochester, the park was an excellent place to meet up with Matty. 

We spent Friday afternoon and evening exploring portions of the seven mile long Gorge Trail, visiting the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls.  We also watched two hot air balloons being set up, inflated and then launched.
We rented a small cabin (D03) on the east side of the park with cots, a refridgerator, electric stove and oven, lights and plenty of outlets.  The campground has flush toilets, showers, dumpsters and even washers and dryers.  

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Three Pond Loop Trail (White Mountain National Forest, NH) and Hapgood Pond Campground (Green Mountain National Forest, VT)

Today is day one of a five day trip to visit Matty in New York.  I try to avoid interstate highways and long drives if I can, so I've decided to split the drive out over two days and take backroads, hiking along the way.

Today I hiked the Three Pond Trail in the western part of the White Mountain National Forest.  I picked this hike as it seemed like a pleasant yet not overly stressful hike, which would allow me to stretch my legs a little over halfway into my drive without wearing me out.  I had originally planned to hike out and back to the first pond, around 4.4 miles total.

I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this hike and the solitude the area offered.  Other than a person fishing in a canoe on one of the remote lakes, I did not see another person.  After hiking to the Three Ponds Lean-To, I decided to extend my hike out to Foxglove Pond.  As I approached the end of the trail (it was flooded), I was greated by a large coyote trotting towards me on the trail.  He noticed me and quickly darted off, before I was able to get a picture.  

On the return trip I took the Donkey Hill Cutoff to the Mt. Kineo Trail.  Although slightly longer, I was rewarded with views of a waterfall I had not expected.

The trail was muddy in parts and required a few stream crossings over logs and rocks.  Grass had grown over in parts but I did not get any ticks on me.  My overall hike today was around 7.5 miles with a little less than 1,000 feet of total elevation gain throughout the hike.

After hiking, I drove the final leg of the day to the Hapgood Pond Campground in Peru, Vermont.   The campground is part of the Green Mountain National Forest and provided a scenic and quiet place to spend the night.  

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Fort McClary State Park (Kittery)

On our way back from a trip to Rhode Island, Ryan and I stopped at Ft. McClary to stretch our legs.   The park features a fort and associated structures and great views of Portsmouth Harbor. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

South Ridge Yurt, Hidden Valley Nature Center (Jefferson)

In his excellent book Microadventures, Alastair Humphreys suggests taking "5-to-9" adventures, short overnight trips after work in which you return the next morning.

This past summer I had planned on staying with the kids in one of Midcoast Conservancy's cabins at Hidden Valley Nature Center, but needed to cancel the trip, resulting in a credit for two nights.   I decided to use one of the credits for a solo overnight last night.

It was raining when I arrived but it was only a short mile hike in to the Sugar Ridge Yurt.  The yurt is more modest than the other (now closed) HVNC yurt, but was clean and dry.  It features a bunk with one relatively clean mattress, a cot, a table with four folding metal chairs and a wood stove.  The yurt has smoke and CO detectors as well.  Outside there is a fire ring, a wood shed with an ample supply of fire wood and an outhouse.  The hike in was mostly flat, with a slight hill near the yurt.  

This was a nice adventure, although it would have been far better had there not been torrential rain.   

FMI on HVNC's cabins and yurt visit  

Monday, September 6, 2021

Baxter (Abol Trail, Abol Pond Trail, Abol Stream Trail, Abol Campground, Blueberry Ledges Trail)

This weekend my workplace held it's annual Mt Katahdin hike in Baxter State Park.   I've helped coordinate the event since last year, as it's a great opportunity to connect outside of work.

Like last year, my friend Chris and I arrived the day before and camped out to meet the group prior to their start up the mountain.   We took the opportunity to get a hike in, doing a 3.5 mile loop hike on the Abol Pond and Abol Stream Trails starting at the Abol Beach Day Use Area.  This was a pleasant, mostly flat trail through woods, with a few occasional amazing views of Katahdin.   We didn't see anyone else on the trail.
After seeing the Katahdin hikers off Sunday morning, we went for a short hike, doing a portion of the Blueberry Ledges Trail off of Park Tote Road.  We hiked around 1.3 miles until the trail crossed a small stream, but had to turn around due to time constraints. 
We met up with additional friends and spent the afternoon preparing dinners and snacks for the returning hikers.

In the afternoon, my friend Kelly and I hiked up the Abol Trail to deliver snacks and water to members of our group for the final leg of their hike.  One member needed additional help so we met her and another team member at the scenic viewpoint around 2.4 miles in, just before the start of the boulder field.