Saturday, April 09, 2005

Cornell Plantations & Fall Creek

This week, I planned a longer hike for Sunday. However, Saturday was so beautiful, that I couldn't resist hiking for a few hours before the Phillies game started. I decided to explore some of the nearby trails indicated on the Cornell Plantations map. The trail begins a mere 2 minute walk from my apartment door. I have often looked at this area and wondered what was there, but never realized an official trail went through it. The trail begins by climbing steeply (with the aid of stairs) and winding along the edge of a large hill which overlooks Forest Home Drive and Fall Creek. Some of the views are quite nice and there are some stone benches which may provide nice reading areas for future visits! The trail provides easy access to the Cornell Arboretum before intersecting the Cayuga Trail in the vicinity of the Cornell Suspension Bridge.

The Cornell suspension bridge stretches across Fall Creek. Posted by Hello

After crossing the suspension bridge, I turned west, away from the Cayuga Trail and went along the creek for awhile. Over the next mile or so, I saw three deer and two snakes! The snakes startled me because I didn't notice they were there until I was about 5 feet away, at which point they slithered from the trail into the underbrush. The third deer that I observed was quite funny. We were separated by some small trees and bushes and we could easily observe each other. I stepped slowly and softly so as not to scare him away. We circled the trees that separated us, always staying about 180 degrees apart. Finally, I decided to stay put and simply observe and take pictures. He stood still for awhile, but finally he decided to tip-toe quietly in my direction. It became clear that he was trying to cross the trail as silently as possible, hoping I wouldn't notice or wouldn't come closer. He moved so slowly, lifting one hoof at a time. After crossing the trail, he rushed off into the brush until he was almost out of sight before walking normally again, glancing back at me as he did so. It was amazing how well camouflaged the deer were in the leafless "vegetation". I hadn't noticed them until I was within 10-20 yards of them and then only because they made noises while walking on dead leaves.

This deer tried to tip-toe by without me noticing. Posted by Hello

After crossing the trail, he quickly galloped off into the brush. Posted by Hello

From here, I took a sidetrail which climbed steadily until reaching the peak, where the Ithaca Country Club and golf course is located. The greens looked beautiful. Some nice views of Fall Creek and the Cornell Arboretum were also visible from this area. I returned to the suspension bridge, crossed it, and headed on a trail to the east, towards the trailer park on Forest Home Drive. The trail crossed the road on the border of the trailer park and intersected the original trail I had hiked on. I followed this section back to my apartment.

A moss-colored pond just north of Fall Creek. Posted by Hello

It was a pleasant trail -- nothing extraordinary, but it's nice to know it exists so close to my apartment. I think it will serve as a perfect place to read throughout the spring and summer and offers easy walking access to the Cornell Arboretum. On mornings when I feel particularly energetic, I could even take this trail to campus, on my way to the lab.


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