Posts Tagged ‘highland forest’

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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To stay on top of winter, strap on some snowshoes and start walking in the Syracuse area

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By LEO MALONEY, Oneida Daily Dispatch, link to original article

The morning sun glistened off crystals of new fallen snow which partially covered the tracks of deer, last weekend’s skiers, or other visitors to the winter landscape. The occasional squeak of cross country skis on the snow was the only sound breaking the silence. Despite the chilly weather, a brisk pace of skiing and the enjoyment of being outdoors made me oblivious to the temperature.

Earlier this week I took advantage of excellent conditions to do some Nordic skiing. The evergreens hunt heavily with new fallen snow and tracks of deer, fox, and other wildlife told tales of unseen inhabitants of the area. The picturesque scenery, the adventure, and the fun of skiing again made it a great morning to be out.

Cross country skiing is popular because it gives us a chance to get outdoors and enjoy nature and get some exercise at our own pace and time. Some do it for aerobic exercise, some for winter photography, and others for racing or even hunting.

You don’t need any special clothing or other expensive equipment. However remember that cotton clothing isn’t suitable for any long or extended trips since it gets wet easily, retains moisture and wicks heat away from your body. Wear a pair of nylon wind pants or some similar cover over your jeans, dress in layers, and wear a pair of gaiters to keep snow out of your boots.

Do not overdress since you will be burning calories and producing heat. It is best to dress in layers that can be added or subtracted as needed depending on exercise level and weather. Carry snacks and water, and be sure to add some glide wax to your skis, even the no-wax variety.

The nice thing about cross country skiing is that we can usually find areas to ski without much travel or effort. For some people skiing right from their backyard takes them right to fields or nearby golf courses. Throughout central New York there are countless opportunities ranging from woodland trails, golf courses to cross country centers or areas of groomed trails.

Most area golf courses are a popular place to ski and offer gentle rolling and open terrain. In some areas there are hiking trails or abandoned roads that make smooth and open trails to explore on skis. Fields and pastures often have gentle hills that offer variety or challenge.

Those that want more wooded, hilly, or challenging terrain might consider Highland Forest south of Syracuse or Stony Pond State Forest south of Route 20 near Nelson. At Stony Pond the terrain is hilly and forest-covered, and the trails are nested in concentric loops with connections so you can take a shortcut back if you desire. Maps are located at the parking lot on Jones Road.

If you are looking for some groomed trails check out cross country ski centers like the Osceola Tug Hill X-C Center. They offer groomed trails, rentals, and warming huts for a modest trail fee.

The Tourathon X-C Ski Trail System east of Sandy Creek takes advantage of the abundant lake effect snowfall in Oswego County. It is located on County Route 13 and offers 31 miles of groomed trails through county and state forests. There is no charge for its use, and it is suitable for all levels of ability.

Some of the more interesting trails are the BREIA (Black River Environmental Improvement Association) trails south of Boonville. There are 30 miles of groomed trails accessible from Route 46 South of Boonville, including the Canal Trail, Black River Game Farm Loop, and Jackson Hill State Forest. Maps are available from BREIA, RD 3, Box 50A-50, Alder Creek, or by calling 942-5433.

Rogers Environmental Center at Sherburne has several miles of hiking or nature trails suitable for skiing. Most Saturdays they have either nature programs or guided ski outings. The area is open at all times for skiing or outdoor use.

North of Camden, the many state forests such as Mad River State Forest, Fall Brook State Forest, or Swancott Hill have many miles of unpaved, abandoned roads that are great for skiing. You will also encounter snowmobile trails that you can use, or you can break your own trails. Most of the roads are in rectangular patterns so you have to return by part of the same trail, or drop off a second vehicle at a different location on plowed roads.

One of our favorite places to ski is the central Adirondacks because of the trails, scenery, and accommodations. The Town of Inlet grooms the trails at Fern Park ski center, Limekiln Lake State Campground, and Inlet Golf Course. There is no fee for their use and there is a warming hut and restrooms at Fern Park. Fern Park also has 2 miles of lit trails that are open until 10 pm.

At Old Forge there are cross country trails at McCauley Mountain that charge a modest fee. You can also ski at Nicks Lake State Campground, Thendara Golf Course, or numerous state trails for free.

You can rent cross country skis or snowshoes at Pedals and Petals Shop in Inlet or Mountainman Outdoor Center in Old Forge. For information on snow conditions, weather, accommodations or services check 1-866-GO INLETor see http://www.inletny.com. For Old Forge see http://www.oldforgeny.com. or phone 369-6983.

By now you get the idea that there is no shortage of places to ski. Take advantage of the opportunities, the snow, and the flexibility of cross country skiing to get outside and enjoy it this winter.

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