- 4 Miles
- 1.75 Hours
Four ladies met at Highland Forest last Sunday for a morning hike. It was the first time to the park for a couple of us (myself included). I drove past many ski resorts before heading up the hill; ears popping due to the quick change in elevation. The first thing I was really impressed with was their visitor center called Skyline Lodge. There was a beautiful reception room you can rent with a gorgeous view (as you can see above). It was nice and chilly with air conditioning which would prove to be a real treat after the walk.
We headed out on the Main Trail from the lodge with lots of water in our bags, ready for the heat. The trail crossed us over many rickety bridges that wiggled and wobbled as we crossed over them. The Main Trail at Highland Forest dips down and up in many places from what could have been streams, but due to the intense heat without rain for days and weeks, they have been turned into sad little trickles if there was any water at all!
It did get a little confusing as the hiking trails also intersect with biking and skiing trails. At one point we were looking to cross over onto the Short Cut Trail, but ended up on one of the biking trails for a little bit before finally hitting the trail we wanted. As I said before there were some ups and downs on the trail, but probably the steepest UP was on the Short Cut Trail heading back towards the Skyline Lodge. Not quite Hernia Hill at Green Lakes State Park, but almost! On the upside, at the top of that climb is a plethora of raspberry bushes which are ripe for the picking. We passed a family whose toddler had a small container he was filling with berry yumminess.
It was also at this point that we needed to utilize the bug spray I brought in my pack. Surprisingly it wasn’t so bad in the shade of the wood, but the tall grasses and heat meant lots of bugs looking for a bite of our salty hiking flesh!
Once we got back to the lodge, I parted ways with the rest of the group leaving the park and went back onto the trails by myself. I wanted to walk just a little bit more and do some exploring on the Main Trail. This time I embarked going “backwards” on the Main Trail end that you find behind the lodge. Several times I found myself saying, “Oh that looks interesting, I’ll just hike to that spot and head back.”. I am surprised I didn’t end up doing the entire 8.7 mile loop! This end of the trail had lots of circles pressed into the dirt. A sign of all the horses passing through. I saw a bit of blue sky and hoped for a lookout point to the valley below. I was right! Leo’s Lookout was a perfect spot to stop. It had a lean-to with a trail map, a photo op point AND more importantly….a jackpot of raspberries! I felt like a starving bear (well it was past lunch time) and since I didn’t have a container to bring the berries home in, I had to use the next best thing….my tummy. *wink*
After my fill of fresh, sun warmed raspberries, I headed back to the lodge and then back home. I spent some time looking at the trail map that informed me that part of the Main Trail is actually part of the Finger Lakes Trail which is 950 miles in length, from the PA/NY border in Allegany State Park to the Catskills! I also noticed on the map a good sized body of water called the DeRuyter Reservoir. I decided to check it out on my drive home as it was only the next road over. To my delight I was treated with this view!
I was very sad I didn’t bring my bathing suit as many people were just pulling their cars over and jumping in to cool off themselves and even their dogs. Note to self: always bring a bathing suit for post hike swims!
Till next time,