Posts Tagged ‘Crystal Hills Trail’

Two hikers on the Great Eastern Trail will finish their thru-hike in NY’s Steuben County on June 17 or 18. The terminus is where the Crystal Hills Trail intersects the main Finger Lakes Trail near South Bradford, NY.

If you want to follow their adventure, check out their blog at www.GEThiking.net

Click here to read an article that appeared in the Lockhaven PA newspaper after their visit in Woolrich PA

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By Sue Freeman

Are you familiar with the Finger Lakes Trail? Are you sure? It continues to grow. There are now more than 950 miles of trail, including many side trails and loops. If you haven’t explored the Finger Lakes Trail for either a day hike or a backpacking trip, then you’re missing out on the best hiking that our region has to offer.

The main Finger Lakes Trail reaches from Allegany State Park to the Catskill Mountains, passing south of the major Finger Lakes. It continues west to North Dakota as the North Country Trail. In the east it meets the Long Path which connects to the Appalachian Trail. Closer to home, branch trails head north and south off the main trail. The Conservation Trail heads north to Canada. The Letchworth Trail heads east of Letchworth gorge providing a glimpse of some waterfalls. The Bristol Hills Trail (the one closest to Rochester) heads north to Ontario County Park north of Naples. The Crystal Hills Trail is being built to head south from Bath, connecting to the Great Eastern Trail. The Interloken Trail heads north into the Finger Lakes National Forest. The Onondaga Trail and Link Trail form a loop south of Syracuse. Each of these has smaller loop and spur trails attached.

The whole system amounts to an awful lot of trail mileage. How do you know where to go, where to park, what terrain you’ll encounter, when is a good time to go? The answer to these questions just got easier. The Finger Lakes Trail Conference recently unveiled their on-line, interactive trail map at www.fingerlakestrail.org.

You can zoom in and pan around on the map to focus on any specific trail area. Zooming in twice shows waypoints for trailhead parking, shelters, campsites (including primitive campsites), and hunting closures (red flag waypoints).  Clicking on a waypoint brings up more information about it such as dates for hunting closures, notices, and important infrastructure such as lean-tos are also shown. Clicking on the track of a trail, whether the main trail or any side trails, brings up an elevation profile for that area that can be enlarged.

The track colors represent the blaze colors for that segment of trail. The main trail is depicted in black for better visibility on various map backgrounds, but it is white blazed. (A blaze is a rectangle of paint on trees and structures used to denote the route of a trail.)

This interactive map can be very useful in quickly finding relevant information about a specific segment of trail. For instance, if I’m thinking of taking a hike from Ontario County Park into Naples on the Bristol Hills Trail, I can quickly see that I better go now or postpone my trip because a segment of the trail is closed for hunting from November 15 through December 22. Maybe I’ll plan a Christmas Day hike. I see my hiking partner can leave a car at the DEC lot on Route 245 and shuttle us to the start at Ontario County Park and we can hike the distance one way. And, I can see from the topo and terrain versions of the map that we’ll be in for some rugged terrain. Maybe we’ll need snowshoes if the snow is deep.

Once you decide on where to hike using the interactive map, it’s best to buy a Finger Lakes Trail Conference map for that area to use on your hike because of the detailed mile-by-mile information on the back of each map and so that you’ll have a quality printed map with you on the hike. Having a good map with you is one of the most important safety precautions you can take while hiking. Happy Trails.

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The end to end tracking Excel files (both main Finger Lakes Trail and branch trails) have been updated to include both reroutes and the new Crystal Hills Trail.  These free trailhead coordinates are available on the FLTC website for entry into your automotive GPS unit. The coordinates are embedded in the Excel spreadsheets.

From the www.fltconference.org home page: At the top click Go Hiking > End to End Hiking… > Tracking Forms and Trailhead Coordinates.  Scroll to the bottom and follow the instructions to save the files (or open) with Excel (or Microsoft Works).  Print the files out and put it in your vehicle so you have it there all the time!

I thank Don McClimans and Roger Hopkins for helping improve these Excel files.
-Java Joe (aka Joe Dabes)

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by Leo Roth, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, link to original post

“It was August of 1961 and the bus was on its Sunday night run from Boston to Rochester. Suddenly, there welled up from my sub-conscious the thought: ‘Why not a hiking trail across New York State, south of the Finger Lakes?'”

So wrote founder Wally Wood of Rochester, recounting the origin of the Finger Lakes Trail, a prodigious footpath that continues to grow to this day.

Last month, the first 26 miles of the FLT’s newest branch — the Crystal Hills Trail — opened to hikers near Bath, Steuben County. When finished, it will connect the FLT’s main trail with the Great Eastern Trail at the Pennsylvania border. That trail runs south all the way to Alabama.

The Crystal Hills Trail, under construction by volunteers for five years, cuts through some of the most remote state forest and private land in the Southern Tier, offering a true wilderness hiking experience. The views are breathtaking and the land is home to deer, black bears, turkeys and hawks.

A continuous footpath across the state is possible only because of the generosity of more than 600 private landowners. The FLT’s main line has four other branches: the Conservation Trail that runs to Niagara Falls; the Letchworth Trail to Mount Morris; the Bristol Hills Trail through Naples; and the Interlaken Trail running between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.

Those who hike all 561 miles of the FLT’s main line and roughly 351 miles of branch, loop and spur trails are awarded patches and entrance into a special club. To date, there are just 295 main trail and 60 branch trail “through-hikers,” said Pittsford’s Jacqui Wensich, who helps with the record keeping.

“We’re eager to see who will be No. 300. The fall is when we get a lot more hikers (finishing up),” Wensich said.

Wensich has thru-hiked the entire FLT system, doing most of the mileage with her German Sheppard, Mina. She’s main through-hiker No. 178. Detailed maps and a network of helping-hands assist through-hikers with places to eat and sleep.

That makes the FLT New York’s own version of the famed Appalachian Trail “but without the crowds,” Wensich said.

Get going: Fall is the perfect time to hike. Colorful leaves, cool air — and no bugs. For day hikes, pack plenty of water and snacks, dress for weather changes, wear quality shoes and socks, leave plenty of daylight, obtain maps and learn how to read them. Hunting season will soon be here so be smart and safe.

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By Derrick Ek, Corning Leader, link to original post

Hikers, birders and other outdoor enthusiasts have a new trail to explore some of Steuben County’s most scenic areas, as a new branch of the Finger Lakes Trail has been carved out.

Dubbed the Crystal Hills Trail, it runs north and south through the rolling hills of Steuben County.

The first 26 miles at the north end are cleared, marked and officially open. The entire 45 miles will be open by 2013, said Pat Monahan of Corning, president of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference.

At the north end, the Crystal Hills Trail starts at the main line of the Finger Lakes Trail, which runs east to west from the Catskills to Allegheny State Park.

The Crystal Hills Trail splits off from the main Finger Lakes Trail in the South Bradford State Forest, and the currently open section ends in West Hill State Forest.

When finished, however, the trail will wind south through the towns of Bradford, Campbell, Hornby, Erwin, Addison and Tuscarora.

Along the way, it will pass through some lovely and remote spots: South Bradford State Forest, Meads Creek State Forest, West Hill State Forest, Erwin Hollow State Forest, the Erwin State Wildlife Management Area, Pinnacle State Park, and McCarthy Hill State Forest.

Hikers can expect a variety of terrain, with fields, forest, streams, ponds and sweeping vistas; along with a wide array of wildlife: deer, fox, bear, turkey, hawks and other critters. “The idea is to provide a wilderness footpath experience,” Monahan said.

The Crystal Hills Trail will end at the Pennsylvania border, where it connects with the Great Eastern Trail.

Carving out the new trail has taken about five years so far, but has been progressing well lately, Monahan said. The process has involved negotiating agreements with the state Department of Environmental Conservation as well as private landowners; scouting the trail in all four seasons to find the most scenic, dry routes; using chainsaws, weedwackers and other tools to clear the path; and finally, painting orange blazes and putting up trailhead signs.

“We’ve had lots of volunteers. We got help from school groups, churches, college wellness classes. We’ve had hikers from all over the state come for weekend work parties,” Monahan said. “We really didn’t expect to have this project go so quickly.”
Volunteers are still needed to build the remaining sections and to “adopt” existing trail sections to help maintain, Monahan said.

Those interested in exploring the new trail can find brochures and maps at Wegmans, as well as online at www.fingerlakestrail.org.

The Finger Lakes Trail’s main line has four other branch trails already open: the Interloken Trail through the Finger Lakes National Forest, between Seneca and Cayuga lakes; the Bristol Hills Trail near Canandaigua Lake; the Letchworth Trail near Letchworth State Park; and the Conservation Trail, which heads to Niagara Falls.

The new Crystal Hills Trail, however, is the only branch that goes south. “I think the Finger Lakes is one of the most beautiful areas in the country, and this gives people a way to get out and enjoy it,” said project volunteer Dave Drum of Hammondsport, a Finger Lakes Trail Conference member.

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