Trail description:

The road less horses.

Trumansburg is a quaint village filled with lovingly-restored 19th century homes, an excellent public library, and good shops. Today's walk will start off on country roads and end in the Finger Lakes Forest (FLF). Depending on where you spend the night, the country road portion is approximately 7 ½ miles; the second portion in the FLF is approximately 4 miles. Once in the Forest, you can either take the Backbone trail the entire way or start off on the Backbone trail and follow the Interloken trail to Picnic Area road. I've chosen the Interloken Trail (which is horse-less) but the views from the Backbone trail are striking (and make up for the horse droppings!). Amenities Alert: Once you get on the road/trail, you won't find any amenities so pack up your lunch while you are in Trumansburg the night before you leave, stop by the wonderful Good to Go grocery on Main Street which is as well-stocked as any French shop that we stopped in during our trek in Provence, or check with your B&B owner to arrange a packed lunch.

Ask the proprietor of your T-burg B&B to point you in the direction of Curry Road. Head West on Curry Rd for less than a mile til you get to SR 227 where we'll turn left (South). This stretch of 227 is one of the few state roads we'll have to travel on during our Trek. It's a short distance on 227 (.7 miles) til we turn right on to Boyd Hill Rd. Boyd Hill will become Bower Rd and dead end into the Finger Lakes Forest in 3.4 miles. We'll gain some elevation today-after our rather easy walk to Trumansburg-so be prepared for some rolling hills as we ascend the Backbone Ridge, the chain of hills that stretches between Cayuga and Seneca Lake. Although we'll be walking on a road (paved at the start; unpaved for the rest) for 1.5 hrs, this country road has little traffic, few houses, and pastoral scenes that evoke a Turner landscape. Stop by the historic Jones Cemetery (.7 miles up Boyd Hill), lovingly maintained by a neighborhood association. Later when you get to the intersection of Bower and Burr, turn around for a panoramic view of the Cayuga Lake area.

Bower Rd ends at Vesa Rd. Cross the road and head W into the FLF on the Backbone Trail. (When I hiked this in May 2013, there were no trail head signs or blazes to indicate the Backbone Trail at this juncture but the trail is unmistakable and is really the continuation of Bower Road-just a bit more trail-like than road-like.) The trail is broad at the start, wide enough for horses which you may see (or see evidence of!) and parallels one of the several pastures in the FLF. The National Forest is a multi-use public land (e.g. pasture grazing for cattle; wildlife habitat management; some timbering) and lots of recreational options in addition to hiking (e.g. biking, horseback riding, bike trails, etc.).

Follow the Backbone Trail for approximately 1.5 miles to the intersection with the Interloken Trail (orange blazes) where you'll head South. Today's portion of FLF trail is easy hiking through second-growth woods and lush fern-filled low-lying areas covered in boardwalks. In late May, there were fringed polygalas adjacent to Canadian lilies of the valley; jack in the pulpits proselytizing and Mayapple flowers bobbing in the breeze. Stop for lunch at Foster Pond-either at the picnic table or on the banks of the pond if it's not too breezy.

Follow the Interloken Trail for approximately 2 miles where you will turn right (heading West) on Picnic Area Rd. Travel down the road for @ ½ mil til you arrive at the Red House Country Inn.

Culinary Aside:

Unless you are a forager (and it's blueberry season), the Finger Lakes Forest will not have any culinary treats to offer. Your one option is to pack up a meal in Trumansburg.

Food & Lodging:

My trek through the Forest would be impossible without The Red House Country Inn. Located on Picnic Area Rd, it is the only lodging in the Finger Lakes Forest. It's open year round, is surrounded by 16,000 acres of Finger Lakes Forest, and it has a friendly innkeeper who is happy to give you directions.