Although winter isn’t officially here yet, our hike at Ganondagan was definitely wintery, with light falling snow throughout the hike and finishing just before the earliest sunset of the year.
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The seven hikers who ventured out to Big Flats Sunday afternoon were rewarded with a glorious walk in the woods. Sunny and mild weather, plus dry trails. The photos tell it all.
Our host, Bob C. met us at the trailhead with his usual cheerful welcome and helpful information. His wildlife account about a cinnamon bear, got us all excited at the prospect of seeing this black bear of a different color. After the initial hike up to the trails, Bob left us to explore on our own, cautioning us about the LONG hill on our selected route. The climbers (our only group on this hike) were not to be deterred.
For those who have not been to this preserve, It is about 800 acres of newer growth trees, overlooking the Chemung River. The 6 miles of trails are meticulously maintained by the aforementioned Bob C., the steward of the property. Each year during hunting season, volunteers patrol the preserve for the Land Trust to assure that no hunters stray into its borders. We encountered none.
Our route took us through some new territory, the northeast corner of the preserve. Conditions were perfect for this hike down then up, up, UP to the top of Steege Hill. Our group then traversed some gentler terrain on the hilltop along a steep gully to a small pond. By then it was near sunset and time to head out of the woods.
Off we went to Tag’s Restaurant, a cozy little eatery nearby, with friendly service and a sizeable menu. There we were welcomed by Bob, three other Steege patrollers, and the famous Irene S., trail builder extraordinaire. It was a pleasant ending to a perfect day. Do not hesitate to visit Steege Hill on your own. You might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of that bear.