We enjoyed 2 days of thru-hiking 17 miles of the FLT near Almond NY. On this particular stretch, we explored Slader Creek, Klipnocky and Bully Hill State Forests. At this time of year, abundant waterfalls, babbling brooks, and the ephemeral wildflowers are joyous scenic highlights. These short-lived flowers burst through dead leaves to reach the sunlight before hardwood tree leaves fill in and shade the forest floor. We saw spring beauties and hepaticas, along with emerging trilliums and trout lilies. It’s a joy to rediscover these every Spring. Many tree varieties filled the forest including heavenly hemlocks, evergreens, maples and oaks. We also saw ash trees losing their bark to the Emerald ash borer, standing dead trees called snags that provide habitat for wildlife, and fallen trees that eventually decay and return nutrients to the soil for future generations of forest growth.
Unusual and unexpected sights added to our adventure, like hiking through a dark 80 ft. tunnel in order to cross under Interstate 86, discovering a beautiful lean-to in an enchanting streamside setting, and happening upon a robust beaver lodge in a trailside pond. We finished our trek in Kanakadea County Park near Almond Lake, giving hikers a taste of local picnic and recreation options.
The Finger Lakes Trails are easy to follow, thanks to the maps and regional stewards who maintain the white-painted rectangular tree markings. Hats off to them and the generous landowners who permit access to state forests through their land. It’s always fun and a pleasure to explore new places to hike in our wonderful state!
– David and Janet Kowalski