On Monday, August 28th I planned to again go to the Hornell area to hike a part of the Finger Lakes Trail on Map 9. The section of trail from Bishopville Rd to Webb Rd had been relocated just as I was hiking it a little more than a week ago. The old route turned left on Bishopville Road and then ducked into the woods before coming out onto Wilson Karr Road. From there it was a road walk over Wilson Karr Road, Bishopville Road and Pennsylvania Hill Road where the trail again entered the woods. The new section of trail turned right on Bishopville Road and then followed dirt Hopkins road to a new trail along the right of way for I86 into Kanakadea Park. The trail again followed the I86 right of way before turning left on dirt Fitzgerald Road. From Fitzgerald Road the trail went through the forest before breaking out into a field and crossing Webb Road. From there the trail rejoined the old portion of the trail and headed east. I wanted to hike this new section before part of it closed on September 1st for hunting. I set my alarm for 5:00 AM but was awakened at 2:30 AM for an ambulance call. I got back home a little after 4:00 PM and decided that I would simply leave for the hike as soon as I could get ready. I was a little tired but thought I could safely do the drive and hike. I got my gear together and got dressed. I had to calla sleepy and confused Sheila from upstairs as she could not believe we were leaving so early! I had on my summer/fall pants and a light baselayer with my Columbia long-sleeved pullover shirt. I decided to try my Keen Glarus boots even though on a previous hike they had bruised my left ankle a little. I made sure I put in two full water bottles and had my water purifier with me. I also wore a light windbreaker as the temperature was in the mid 40’s when I left the house at 4:45 Am. The drive is more than 3 hours but I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. At 6:00 AM, we headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. It was very foggy all the way to Binghamton and beyond. I stopped in Windosr at 6:45 AM to get some gas and breakfast and then continued on I86. I headed west toward Hornell but went one more exit west to Almond getting off at exit 33. I turned left off the exit onto Route 2 and then left onto Bishopville Road. After a short distance I turned right onto dirt McIntosh Road and drove to where it ended at the intersection with dirt Hopkins Road. I immediately saw the new section of the Finger Lakes Trail. I had decided to park here since the there was no parking available where the trial met Bishopville Road. My plan was to first hike from the car to the point where the trail met Bishopville road and then turn around and hike back to the car. I would then hike out to Webb Road and back. When I got out of the car, the skies looked okay but there was no sun and the temperature was 48 degrees. I decided to keep my windbreaker on and to leave my pack in the car for the hike out to the point where the trail met Bishopville Road and back to the car. I set my electronics including my Garmin GPS handheld and Suunto Traverse GPS watch. We began our hike at 8:00 AM by hiking .5 miles north on Hopkins Road and then turning right on Bishopville Road and hiking another .4 miles to where the trail met the road. We kept up a very fast pace and immediately turned around a hiked back to the car. We covered the 1.7 miles in 30 minutes for a speed of 3.4 mph.
Back at the car I took off the windbreaker although it was still only 50 degrees. I shouldered my pack and we started out at 8:37 AM on the trail which was a wide swathe mowed in the grass. We walked down a short, steep bank to a wide trail cut next to the I86 right-of-way which opened up into a field. The trail was new but the goldenrod was already beginning to lean over and encroach on the newly cut area. We could hear the traffic on I86 an but it was hard to see it until we were almost ready to enter the woods once again. Just before two miles we began to descend a series of switchbacks to a small stream which turned out to be the lowest point on the hike. We paralleled the stream for a little while and then began to ascend the bank on another series of well-planned switchbacks. The trail began to look more defined and the surface was packed possibly indicating the FLT was not following a trail that had already existed. At 2.2 miles we came to the Kanakadea Lean-to with a fire pit out front and an outhouse in back. The outhouse seemed to be constructed of composite sheets rather than wood. The lean-to was large but the front was very high off the ground requiring a ladder to enter. Also, the front supports of the lean-to looked at little worse for wear giving it a somewhat unstable appearance. We were now walking through Kanakadea County park, a park maintain by Steuben County. The park borders Canacadea State Forest. The trail flattened out a little but only for a short distance when a long descent began lasting for .35 miles and losing 240 feet. Even though the park has existing blazed trails the FLT was clearly marked with white blazes. The turns were marked but in the non-standard way with one blazes directly below another so that no direction is given. Just before 3.o0 miles, we descended to cross another little stream and then ascended the opposite bank. On the left side of the trail was an impressive construction not marked on the map. Someone had collected many branches and placed them between standing trees to create walls on three sides. The shelter was large with some branches supporting a tarp to form a roof. It wasn’t clear whether this structure is on park or private property. Soon after this we came to the fence which is the boundary of the I86 right-of-way and began a .8 mile section of almost perfectly straight trail heading northeast toward Fitzgerald Road. This trail definitely followed a pre-existing trail as some of the white blazes clearly were painted over older blue blazes. Unlike the previous section along I86 which was in the open, this section tabled through a predominately pine forest. Unfortunately, the trail builders relied on the previous trail and did not do much to clear this part of the trail. There were numerous spots with trees across the trail and others with untrimmed brush encroaching on the trail.
At 3.3 miles we came down to cross another stream and the bank was very steep on both sides and needed some work. We continued waking the trail with me dodging overhanging brush and branches. At 3.8 miles we came to a small stream with a bridge across it which was further evidence that there had been a trail there before at some time. The bridge was built by a summer BOCES class in 2012. The western end of the bridge was almost suspended in the air as the stream had eroded the dirt supporting it. This allowed the whole bridge to twist. If there is any more erosion, this bridge will be unsafe. Like so many things, a little work ahead of time can save a lot of work later. We turned left on dirt Fitzgerald Road and began another uphill climb watching for the point where the trail would enter the woods again on the right. We walked about .8 miles north and then followed the trail to the right into the woods. The trail started to head northeast climbing through the mixed pine and hardwood forest. This section is the one that closes on September 1st but the bypass is too simply walk up Fitzgerald Road and then east on Webb Road. It was a short walk until we came to an open area that had been mowed and then to an open field. We walked along the west side of the field still climbing without benefit of any blazes. There were round bales in the field to the right and a large Christmas tree farm on the left. It was just beginning to get sunny as we topped the hill in the field at 4.4 miles and started downhill to Webb Road. We crossed Webb Road where there was a cemetery on the right. The trail descended through some hardwoods to a wetland crossed by several streams. The banks of the streams were almost vertical and there were no bridges to cross. I found a place to jump across but it was not the ideal situation. Again, the trail is now blazed but it needs some work to complete it.
We continued through the woods along a woods road and I checked my Avenza app to make sure we would intersect the trail I had already hiked. The app showed that trail was just ahead and when we got to the spot I recognized it. At 10:00 AM we turned around to hike back to the car. We walks down the woods road to the wetland. I thought getting backs cross the stream would be easier but it wasn’t. I had decided to take a few pictures n the way back so I stopped at the wetland for a few shots. We hiked back up hill to the cemetery where I spent a few minutes looking an the inscriptions on the headstones and taking some pictures. We crossed Webb Road and walked along the edge of the field. I stopped to take a few pictures but the skies where still overcast without color or clouds. Further along we turned right from the field and entered the forest. The trip downhill certainly went faster than the uphill journey earlier. We turned left onto Fitzgerald Road, walked downhill to the end and came to the bridge. I took a few pictures and then we continued on the trail retracing our route from earlier. The section of trail parallel to I86 went quickly and we were soon back at the shelter in the woods. I stopped to take some pictures of this inventive project and then we got back on the trail. The walk back up the hill to the Kanakadea Lean-to seemed longer and more difficult than it really was. We stopped at the lean-to so that I could take some pictures since this one was a little different than others I had seen. Sheila managed to climb the steep ladder so I had her pose and I too a few shots. Soon we were back on the open trail next to I86. I stopped to take a few pictures of the trail surrounded by goldenrod. We walked back to the car arriving at 11:30 AM after hiking 8 miles in 3.5 hours for a speed of 2.3 mph including stops. The elevation gain was a modest 1560 feet. I was surprised that we were done so early and I would have found some more hiking to do but I had to be back for cross country practice.