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Highland Forest Adventure July 20, 2011

Filed under: Sunny — Sunny Hernandez @ 1:24 pm

Click for the Highland Forest Trail Map

  • 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!


Lots of toads on the trails!

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,



Hiking Green Lakes State Park July 12, 2011

Filed under: Sunny — Sunny Hernandez @ 12:47 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Our first Outdoor Kids walk was a success!

Click for our Green Lakes Trail Map

  • (around) 5 MILES
  • 2.5 HOURS

Three of us went to Green Lakes State Park on a gorgeous Sunday morning to embark on our maiden walk together.  Neither of my companions, Lauren and Mitch, had ever been to the park before and it’s always exciting to share that first experience with someone.

We got to the park around 9:30 AM and it was still quiet in the park.  Swimming doesn’t start until 11:00AM, so we pretty much had the park to ourselves, save a few walkers.

Our hike started on the gentle trails along the top of both the Green Lake Trail and the Round Lake Trail.  There are several trails that Green Lakes has to offer, but I wanted one that was a little challenging and longer than what one trail alone could offer.  Cobbling together a path along many of the trails gave us exactly that.  We left the Round Lake Trail to head into the hills of Old Growth Forest.  Lauren was pumped…Mitch was, well….less than pumped about all the hills, but trooped on (I think he used the word “masochistic” to describe me at one point).  It’s nice to hike earlier in the day as you can take breaks as needed and don’t need to rush trying to get back before dark.  The other bonus to morning hiking during summer is missing out on the real heat of the day.  We took plenty of breaks for water, photos or to catch our breath before the next hill.

Click here to read Mitch’s review of the walk

Totally had an #OrangePride moment when we walked on the orange and blue trails. Go SU!

As you’re walking on the trails you may notice some more modern looking post markers as the ones in the photo, but for the most part, you need to know what color trail you want to be on and then follow the trees that have a splash of that color painted on them.  Many times the only post markers you would see are where trails intersected.

Hernia Hill Top

One of the most challenging parts of the hike is a particular trail called Hernia Hill.  As we walked, suddenly we came to the crest of the hill so lovingly named for a painful organ displacement.  We ended up walking down Hernia Hill instead of up it’s steep ridges.  Don’t be fooled, you have to pay as much attention and have control going down as you do up.  We all did a great job of not falling on our butts as we walked with our feet sideways down the hill.

Once we got back on the Old Forest Growth Trail back to the lakes, suddenly we found ourselves at the Golf Course Maintenance Site.  Suddenly there were no trail markers, so we tried heading right, through the maintenance lot.  That ended us up at Hole #17 on the Golf Course. Hah!  Word to the wise, when you get dumped out into a clearing full of lawn mowers and tractors, head left instead of right and you will find the marker where the trail picks back up.

By the time we got to the under bellies of the lakes to head back to the car, it was late morning and the trails became packed with runners, bikers, hikers, babies, and puppies.  Mitch made sure to tell everyone how I tried to kill him with the walk and got the reply, “it’s good for you”…hah!

The best part about this park are clearly the glacial lakes, which are emerald green in color due to all the dissolved minerals in the water as it flows through the rock.  You can also swim on the end of one of the lakes.  Next time I am bringing my bathing suit and hiking all morning with a swim and a lounge on the beach afterwards.

Until next time.  Happy Hiking!