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Steege Hill Recap

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.

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.



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Return to Steege Hill


This preserve, maintained by the Finger Lakes Land Trust, is a perfect refuge during hunting season.  In fact, out hikers will be performing a service to the land trust by patrolling the woods as they walk.  No worries.  In sixteen seasons, patrollers have never encountered a hunter.

Steege Hill Preserve is about 800 acres, acquired in 2001 from an anonymous donor.  The forest is regenerating after heavy logging in the 1970’s and contains many species of hardwoods.  Preserve steward, Bob Corneau, has maintained a network of over 6 miles of trails, constructed largely on the old logging roads.  On some of the steep slopes original hardwoods and conifers remain.  From its hilltop vantage point there is a bird’s eye view of the Chemung River.

Worth mentioning are two notable creatures that inhabit this forest.  Timber Rattlesnakes have long been residents here, especially on the sunlit rocky outcroppings and in the shade of the forest. They may be snuggly out of sight at this time of year, but be cautious when stepping off the trail.  The distinctive nests of Allegheny Mound Ants are a common sight at trailside and in clearings that the ants have fashioned for themselves by destroying shade plants to insure adequate sunlight and warmth for the colony.  Black bears also have been sighted in the area recently.  For more about this preserve go to

Hiking Groups

All groups will depart together from the parking area on Steege Hill Road, heading uphill for about a half mile on a moderate pitch.  There are four trail loops to explore.

Please note:  The parking space is very limited.  Carpooling is highly recommended.  Meet at Springwater Town Hall on Route 15 at 12:45 as the drive is 1 hour.

Naturalists will cruise around the Yellow Loop, a gentle 2 mile jaunt with a few small inclines and a tranquil pond.  We may be fortunate enough to have the steward of the refuge join this group.  If not, a volunteer leader is needed.

Tourists will traverse the blue and orange trails, enjoying a variety of terrain with some moderate climbs, about 3.5 miles.  A volunteer leader will be needed for this group.

Climbers will tackle the white and red trails which offer some up and downhill challenges, as well as a nice valley view. Distance is about 4.5 miles.

Hopefully all groups will arrive back at the starting point at approximately the same time.

Directions   From Springwater, take I 390 south to I 86 E towards Corning.   Follow I 86 east to exit 48, then follow Rt.352 east for 1.5 miles.  Turn right on South Corning Rd. for .7 miles.  After crossing bridge across the Chemung River, turn left on Steege Hill Rd..  Follow up hill for 1 mile.  Preserve is on the left.  Look for green and white sign.

Social  will be at Tag’s Restaurant, 3037 Rt 252 in Big Flats,  It is a very short drive from the hike.  Good food.  We have feasted there previously.


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Hike Day Guidelines

Springwater Trails Organization

Revised 10/19/2018

Attendance Check In

All hikers are expected to check in prior to each hike.  An attendance sheet will be provided where hikers can

  • All hikers should sign their name and provide their phone #, if they have their cell phone with them, on the attendance sheet.
  • The phone number will be used if the hiker needs to be contacted during the hike.
  • The signature acknowledges an understanding of these guidelines including that the hiker is participating at their own risk. Continue reading
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Wheaton Hill Maintenance Hike

This Sunday’s hike will be a maintenance session on Wheaton Hill in Springwater. We won’t be attempting to whack the grass this year, though if you want to you are welcome to bring a weed whacker and have at it. If you do plan to use a weed whacker, PLEASE BRING EYE PROTECTION! These devices can kick up a lot of dust and small stones. We will be cutting back the roses and other growths, and we’ll be sawing up some trees that have fallen across the trails. If the grass is too long for comfortable walking we will call in the City of Rochester to cut it – they have heavier equipment than we can bring to bear.

Bring gloves to protect your hands, loppers to cut branches and if you have one, a small saw for branches that are too large for the loppers. 

The initial plan for a social afterwards is Sammie’s in Springwater. We’ll take alternative suggestions before we fire up.

Directions: Wheaton Hill is the first right turn north of the intersection of Rt 15 and Rt 15A in Springwater (0.9 mile north of the intersection).  The trail head is 0.5 miles up Wheaton Hill just before the road turns straight east and heads up the main hill.  More details are on the directions page.

What to bring:

  • Gloves and clippers – hand clippers or long handled loppers for larger branches.
  • A weed whacker if you want to cut grass, with gas mixture and extra string. 
  • Small bow saw.
  • Plastic grocery bags in case you find any litter.
  • Water to keep hydrated.
  • Eye protection.