The seven hikers who made the trek to Big Flats on Sunday were rewarded with a afternoon of pleasant Fall weather in which to explore the Steege Hill Preserve. Although some trails were soggy from all of the recent precipitation, the skies were clear, and the temperature was almost toasty.
Sadly, we did not have the benefit of our usual guide, Bob who is the longstanding steward at the preserve. Therefore we had to create our own script, recalling some of the tales he has shared with us in the past. We did encounter the manager of volunteer patrols, John Abbott, who thanked us for visiting and contributing over two hours to the schedule.
At this season of the year the forest is quieter. The sounds of gurgling streams were prominent. Instead of the cries of hawks, the droning of small planes from the nearby airfield filled the air. We saw a glider being towed through the sky. No wildlife were evident. The rattlers and mound ants were tucked safely away in their nests. Although the foliage was significantly diminished, new forest color emerged. The delicate yellow flowers of the witch hazel shone through in many places. In one section of the woods, brilliant red barberry shrubs burst with color. John has put up a lovely slide show that captures our afternoon adventures. https://springwatertrails.org/november-2018-steeg-hill-2/
The sun was already low in the sky when we picked our way down that steep hill to the parking area. The setting sun lent a lovely glow to the surrounding hillsides as we departed Steege Hill Preserve. As always, Tag’s Restaurant provided a fine feast for famished hikers. The small group size made it easy for conversation.
Display Yesterday, thirteen hikers were treated to a lovely walk in the woods at the Houghton Preserve in Corning. The Finger Lakes Land Trust has created more than 35 of these conservation areas that are open to the public for quiet enjoyment of nature.
The abundant shade and a refreshing breeze kept us all comfortable as we meandered along the well marked and maintained trails. Three naturalists enjoyed a gentler walk along the lower trails and a peaceful meadow, although they did cover quite a bit of ground. The bobolinks did not put in an appearance except on a smart phone.
Ten tourists/climbers traversed the upper and lower loops, listening for a cuckoo and searching for evidence of porcupine, when they had an unexpected sighting. A black bear loped through the forest just uphill from the trail. Thanks to Pinock ( on his first hike with our group) for his quick reflexes in alerting us, as we might never have gotten a glimpse. Our noise and numbers frightened the little critter away too quickly for John to snap a photo.
Our after hike social at the Market Street Brewing Company was most enjoyable, despite the slow service. Good food, good prices, good beer.
This was Springwater Trails first outing at Houghton. Hopefully we will return to enjoy it in other seasons. If you wish to explore on your own, this is a very user friendly area: ample parking, kiosk with maps and information, well blazed trails. Keep and eye out for bears!
Check our facebook page for more photos.
Wish I had a photo to capture the hygge (Danish for coziness) of tonight’s gathering. John and Sue provided the comfort of their gorgeous home. We enjoyed a perfect variety of nutritious and delicious foods. The music was lively and eclectic (Don’t Jump Off the Roof Dad). Most of all, old friends got to relax and chat. Thank you all, for an invigorating hike and a lovely evening., especially to John for orchestrating it all.
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.