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Posts Tagged ‘Green Lakes State Park’

by David Figura | Syracuse.com, link to original post

Central New York is an outdoors wonderland. The diversity of eye-opening and mind-clearing settings a little more than an hour’s ride from Syracuse is incredible.

There’s picturesque waterfalls; lush, green hiking trails; multi-facted nature centers; the breath-taking scenery around the Finger Lakes; Adirondack-like woods; nationally recognized birding areas – ocean shore-like settings on Lake Ontario.

There’s 15 weekends, beginning with this weekend and extending through Labor Day. With that in mind, here are 15, great Central New York outdoors destinations that will reveal how generous Mother Nature has been to us.

Take the Figura Challenge. Visit them all this summer.

Take your family, your significant other or just check out the spots yourself. Pack a lunch or dinner. Make a morning, an afternoon or a day of it. Take pictures.

Send your experiences and photos to me at dfigura@syracuse.com. Briefly note what you liked, what you didn’t like and recommendations for others who are planning to visit there. I’ll compile your impressions each week on my outdoors page on Syracuse.com.

Have I left out any of your favorites? Drop me a line. The guidebooks from Footprint Press can provide maps & all the details you’ll need to explore these and other places. Meanwhile, here’s my list:

Birding in Central & Western NY

Birding in Central & Western NY

1). Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge: A mecca for bird lovers. Enough said. The refuge headquarters and visitor’s center is off Route 20, west of Auburn. For more, see fws.gov/refuge/montezuma or call 568-5987.

2). Fair Haven State Park: Features high bluffs above sandy beaches and hilly woodlands. Inland, there is Sterling Pond. Fishing is excellent and very accessible. Rowboats, paddleboats and canoes are for rent. The park is located off Route 104A in Fair Haven. For more, see nysparks.com/12 or call 947-5205.

3). Sterling Nature Center: This 1,400-acre nature center located in the northeastern corner of Cayuga County in the town of Sterling on Jensvold Road boasts more than 10 miles of hiking trails and two miles of lake shore. The center is open dawn to dusk. One particular highlight is its huge great blue heron rookery (nesting area). For more, see cayugacounty.us/web/Departments/Parks/Sterling or call 947-6143.

200 Waterfalls in Central & Western NY

200 Waterfalls in Central & Western NY

4).Taughannock Falls: The hiking trails at this state park offer spectacular views and unique geological formations, including the 215-foot falls, which is 33 feet taller than Niagara and is the highest vertical single-drop waterfall in the Northeast. It’s located on the western side of Cayuga Lake off Route 89.For more, see nysparks.com/parks/62 or call 607-387-6739.

5). Fillmore Glen State Park: This park is an oasis of cool, dense woods crowding into a long, narrow gorge. Its hiking trails offer great views and unique geological formations, including five waterfalls and a botanically rich glen. Located off Route 38 in Moravia. For more, see nysparks.com/parks/157 or call 497-0130.

Take Your Bike - Finger Lakes

Take Your Bike – Finger Lakes

6). Bear Swamp: A picturesque state reforestation area in Sempronius, in southeastern Cayuga County off Route 41A, with several vantage points overlooking Skaneateles Lake. It contains about 15 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Enter by the Colonial Lodge restaurant/tavern in Sempronius. (It’s also a good place for a meal or drink afterward).

7). Baltimore Woods Nature Center: This outdoors gem, located off Bishop Road in Marcellus, features more than six miles of hiking trails, numerous outdoors-related programs and an interpretative center. A great place to check out woodland wildlflowers along hiking trails and also at the center’s Faust Garden. A heads up: no dogs allowed. For more, see baltimorewoods.org or call 673-1350.

Take A Hike - Finger Lakes

Take A Hike – Finger Lakes

8). Beaver Lake Nature Center: The popular, county-run facility offers nine miles of hiking trails and more than 400 annual nature/outdoors-related programs. It offers a rich mix of habitats, that create the possibility of seeing more than 200 species of birds and more than 800 varieties of plants. It also features a small lake, which visitors can enjoy with rented kayaks and canoes. For more, see onondagacountyparks.com/beaver-lake-nature center or call 638-2519.

9). Labrador Hollow Unique Area: Nestled in a valley on the Onondaga/Cortland county line on Route 91 east of Tully, this area offers an Adirondack-like, forestry feel and picturesque Tinker Falls in one part — and an expansive, bio-diverse wetland and pond made accessible by a raised boardwalk in another. The area’s 1,474 acres is a favorite spot for hikers, birders, nature lovers and other outdoor sports enthusiasts.

10) Highland Forest: This county run park, which is tagged the “Adirondacks of Central New York,” is located in southeastern Onondaga Couny in Fabius. It features more than 20 miles of year-old trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. It also overs group camping sites for youth and a huge lodge with an eye-opening view of a valley below. A self-guided nature trail is the perfect introductory hike. For more, see onondagacountyparks.com/highland-forest or call 683-5550..

11). Pratt’s Falls: Scenic trails leading to a 137-foot waterfall beacon visitors to bring a well-stocked picnic basket and a sense of adventure at this county park, located on Pratt’s Falls Road in Manlius. In addition to hiking, Pratt’s Falls offers an archery range. This park has been used for national, state and local orienteering events that allow participants to navigate through a marked course using only a map and compass. For more, see onondagacountyparks.com/pratt-s-falls-park or call 435-5252.

12). Chittenango Falls State Park: An eye-opening, 167-foot waterfall is the main attraction. Glacial sculpting of 400-million-year-old bedrock is responsible for this scenic feature. An interesting variety of both plants and wildlife may be found along the trails. Located off Rathbun Road in Cazenovia. For more, see nysparks.com/parks/130 or call 655-5205.

13). Green Lakes State Park: The highlights of this popular park in Fayetteville include two glacial lakes surrounded by upland forest. The lakes offer opportunities for swimming, fishing and boat rentals. Hikers, joggers and mountain bikers can take advantage of more than 10 miles of trails. Camping facilities are available. And yes, there’s also an 18-hole golf course. For more, see nysparks.com/parks/172 or call 637-6111.

14). Clark Reservation State Park: This park is a geologic wonder of the last ice age and a botanist’s paradise. The park’s natural features include rugged cliffs and rocky outcrops, woodland meadow, a wetland and glacial plunge basin lake in which surface waters and bottom waters do not mix. Features include five hiking trails. Fishermen and birders are frequently visitors here. For more see, nysparks.com/126 or call 492-1590.

15). Selkirk Shores State Park: This state park’s campsites overlook a bluff on Lake Ontario. In addition to Great Lakes swimming, visitors can expect outstanding fishing and sunsets, plus hiking and biking trails. Birders take note: It’s on the direct migration route for a wide variety of bird species. It’s located off Route 3 in Pulaski. For more, see nysparks.com/84 or call 298-5737.

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By Greg Munno (gmunno@syracuse.com or 470-6084), Staff writer, The Post-Standard – Syracuse.com
Link to original article.

Let’s give the sport of running a little tweak.

We’ll keep the endorphin rush and nix the endless pavement pounding in favor of a twisting trail through the woods. We’ll maintain the simplicity and low cost but jettison the cars and fumes. We’ll hold on to the amazing aerobic workout while vanquishing all of the “I-was-born-looking-good-in-spandex” attitude.

Give that potion a stir, utter a bit of hocus-pocus and presto: Trail running!

Central New York is home to a growing number of trail runners, which is no surprise given the abundance of great off-road terrain, strong organizations that promote trail-running events and the benefits of trail running over road running.

Trail running encompasses a huge variety of activities, from running on mellow, unpaved surfaces at places like Green Lakes State Park and on the Erie Canal Trail; to mountain-running races up the side of Greek Peak in Virgil; to endurance feats like this past weekend’s Finger Lakes 50s which featured races as long as 50 miles in the Finger Lakes National Forest in Hector.

At its most basic, such as running along the Canal Trail, trail running and road running have a lot in common. There’s no need for special trail shoes. The chances of getting lost are slim. And you should be able to hit speeds similar to the ones you can achieve on a paved surface.

But there are still benefits to stepping off the road and on to that dirt path.

“I always try to stay off the road because it puts you on a softer surface and limits the pounding,” said Ken Hammond, a 23-year-old from Kirkville and a sales associate at Fleet Feet, the specialty running store in DeWitt. “And it is safer and more enjoyable because you get a way from the cars.”

The differences between road and trail running become more stark as you hit more technical terrain, like the rock-and-stump-filled paths in Highland Forest; or the narrow, steep, “single-track” trail that comes up the backside of Greek Peak; or the slick, twisting route through Fillmore Glen.

To deal with these conditions, your running speed needs to drop and your focus needs to increase, according to veteran trail runners like Joe Reynolds, 63, of Newfield, Todd Baum, 50, of Fayetteville, and Mark Driscoll, 49, of Syracuse.

“You need look where you are headed and really stay focused, keeping a connection between your mind and your foot,” said Driscoll, who organizes trail runs at Highland Forest through the Syracuse Charges Track Club. “It’s a bit counter-intuitive. You can’t look straight down at your foot, you have to look ahead of you, absorbing the terrain in such way that your foot knows what’s coming even if you aren’t looking right at it.”

Driscoll said this type of technical running builds strength in the core and legs in a way that road running doesn’t. The terrain forces the running to vary their stride, limiting repetitive-use injuries and building smaller support muscles.

But it comes with risk of different types of injuries, such as turning an ankle or bruises and breaks from taking a fall. The key is to stay focused and slow down, even during a race, Reynolds says.

“The only time I turned my ankle trail running was during the Virgil Mountain Half Marathon, at the end when I hit the pavement and lost my concentration,” Reynolds said. “Trail running is not a sport to ‘space out’ during like you can road running. Speed doesn’t count as much. Even during a race, the competitors are less intense, friendlier, than at a road race. There’s no shame in walking up the hill. It’s less about time and more about having a good time.”

The increased focus on concentration, and the physical obstacles that force runners of all abilities to slow down, often allows older, slower athletes to place better in a trail race than they would in a road race, Reynolds said.

But even runners like Baum who competes in extreme events like the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney in California said finishing in the front isn’t what attracted him to the trails.

“It’s just so enjoyable to be on a trail,” he said. “You’re away from the traffic and barking dogs. You have shade. You have the sights and sounds and smells of nature. Running heightens your sense of this beauty. It really gets you dialed in.”

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For easy trails to run use the Take Your Bike guidebooks : “Take Your Bike – Family Rides in New York’s Finger Lakes Region,” Take Your Bike – Family Rides the Finger Lakes and Genesee Valley Region” and “Take Your Bike – Family Rides in the Rochester Area.”

For more challenging trails to run use the Take A Hike guidebooks : “Take A Hike – Family Walks in New York’s Finger Lakes Region” and “Take A Hike – Family Walks in the Rochester Area.”

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