Saturday, April 02, 2005

Cornell Plantations & The Cayuga Trail

The weather forecasters said there was 100% chance of rain this weekend and they were right. It poured from about 1am this morning and it's still raining now at 6pm. Nonetheless, I decided to hike through it. I had never hiked in the rain before, so I figured it would be a new experience. Also, I wondered what kinds of pictures might come out of it.

Originally, I had planned on hiking a loop of the Interloken Trail, between Watkins Glen and Ithaca. I decided to save that hike for a sunny day. Instead, I hiked the remaining part of the Cayuga Trail, from Forest Home Drive to Stewart Ave. The majority of the trail goes through the Cornell Plantations.

Droplets cling to needles of an Eastern White Pine in the Cornell Plantations. Posted by Hello

Fortunately, the rain was mild throughout the first half of the hike, allowing me to use my camera relatively safely. I had been through the Cornell Arboretum before, but the Cayuga Trail led me through areas I had never seen. They were beautiful! I couldn't believe I was on Cornell's campus.

Floriculture War Memorial, Cornell Plantations Posted by Hello

Floriculture War Memorial, Cornell Plantations Posted by Hello

This small stream eventually empties into Fall Creek. Posted by Hello

After about two miles of hiking through the Arboretum, the trail continued along Plantations Road Shortly past the Greenhouse Overlook, the trail proceeded back into the woods. At this point, I stumbled upon a great discovery -- the Mundy Wildflower Garden! All kinds of sidetrails which go throughout the large "garden" are accessible from the Cayuga Trail in this area. I did not explore them today, but I will be sure to in about a month when the wildflower season will be in its height! Next, the Cayuga Trail crosses Judd Falls Rd. and leads to the Lewis Educational Center, the Robison Herb Garden and the Cornell Plantations HQ and gift shop. I had wondered where these were located in the past. This locations were very pleasant! The entire area looked as though it could have been from Europe, rather than Ithaca.

Shrubery outside the Cornell Plantations HQ. Posted by Hello

The Robison Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations. Posted by Hello

Outside the Lewis Education Center, Cornell Plantations. Posted by Hello

Some gnarly looking trees outside the Cornell Plantations HQ. Posted by Hello

From here, the trail traverses several collections of outdoor vegetation, including the Ground Cover Collection and the Bowers Rhododendron Collection. In the latter collection was an outdoor pagoda of some kind -- quite large, actually -- called the Nearing Summer House. I was so glad to have a place to get out of the rain for a few minutes. I regretted not packing a lunch today, as I always have in the past. From here, the trail continues along Forest Home Drive again until veering off towards the border of Beebe Lake. I had the opportunity to explore the Triphammer Footbridge which gives an incredible view of the waterfall on Fall Creek as it empties out of the lake. The water level these days must be higher than normal as a result of the melting snow and the rain. It was extremely impressive. From here to Stewart Ave., there are several access points to the gorge, including a short trail which crosses the gorge on the suspension bridge adjacent to the Johnson Museum of Art.

Fall Creek continues past Beebe Lake, emptying into the gorge under Triphammer Footbridge. Posted by Hello

Overall, the trail was quite nice. It wasn't quite a wilderness trail, but it provided a pleasant 5-6 mile walk in the rain. When I finished, I was glad that I had decided to hike so close to home, becuase my jeans were soaked and I was looking forward to getting into some clean clothes, as I did promptly after I returned.

A satellite image of the area is shown below. My track is in purple, generated by my GPS.

The Cayuga Trail passes through the Cornell Plantations. Posted by Hello


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