Trail description:

Farm on Satterly Hill.

Following country roads and Finger Lakes Trails (FLT), today's hike will take us from the Magnolia House B&B to Watkins Glen. You'll walk off that wonderful breakfast that our Innkeepers served us when we reverse course and head up Matthews Rd to Satterly Hill Rd, a 2 mile trek. Turn Right (South) on Satterly Hill Rd and follow the ridge on this quiet country road for approximately 3 miles. The road runs past well-tended farms and fields and the occasional house (with dog) and we caught glimpses of both Baltimore orioles and deer as we hiked one May morning. We'll pick up some elevation today (the Summit of Satterly Hill is 1414 ft. above sea level). Look for FLT signs as you get to the top of Satterly Hill where you'll also be treated to stunning panoramic views of the valley below.

Bird House with FLT Blaze

The western portion of the FLT is closed during hunting season (Oct.-Dec and the month of May) and if you are hiking then, you'll have to continue down Satterly Hill Rd til you get to Burdett. Our hike is in June so the trail which takes you through meadow and oak woods is open. Turn right (West) off of Satterly Hill Rd onto the FLT. The trail is not heavily marked, however, so keep a close watch for the faded white blazes. The first portion of the trail is an old farm road and about 20 yards past the well-blazed birdhouse the FLT forks left. Take this fork and follow it for another five minutes til you get to another fork and again take the left fork through a stately oak forest. The trail will dead-end into an old railroad bed. Turn left and follow the RR bed til you get to the FLT parking area. This portion of the trail is in need of drainage and you'll encounter wet spots and large puddles along the way. You'll also spot donkeys, horses, and goats as you pass the Country Critters farm. (The FLT relies on the generosity of landowners who allow trekkers to pass through portions of their property.)

At the parking area, turn Right (but look left at the sturdy Lehigh Valley Railroad tunnel) and follow the road (which is the trail) into Burdett. You'll find a few amenities in Burdett-the PO to send your postcards; a spic & span Dandy-Mart where you can pick up some supplies….and, an excellent lunch spot (see Culinary Aside below) where we're detouring. After lunch, follow the FLT down Mill St which leads into Middle Rd. The road parallels the creek for the first part, then provides stellar lake views for the next portion, with little or no traffic. Close to the end of Middle Rd, watch out for the FLT white blazes and a left turn (East) into the woods.

Excelsior Glen

This little jog into the woods helps avoid Rt. 414 and will bring you to Rt. 79. Cross carefully as there is a steady flow of traffic on Rt 79 and head up Jolly Rd. Near the top of Jolly Rd, you'll see a Finger Lakes Trail sign that will lead you back into the woods and through an exquisite glen (Excelsior Glen). (You might spot some markers for the North Country Trail (NCT) on this portion of the hike. The NCT stretches from New York to North Dakota on 4600 miles of trails.) At the top of the gorge you'll cross the creek; be vigilant since the rocks are VERY slippery and the lovely views are VERY distracting! The descent parallels the gorge and leads you to Rt. 414.

Trekking on the shoulder of the highway is not my favorite way to travel but it's a very short portion (5 minutes walk) of the trail. Soon you'll be walking lakeside and then finding your way to your B&B, hotel, motel, or lodge in Watkins Glen.

Berta Mann of Berta's Cafe.

Culinary aside:

Today's hike was longer than yesterday's but there are definitely some culinary highlights. First, is the lunch stop at Berta's Cafe in Burdett. Opened just in time (June 2013) for my retirement walk, I couldn't resist cucumber gazpacho after a hot hike on the Finger Lakes Trail. And, of course, the toasted coconut cupcake gave me the energy to go on to Watkins Glen.

The other mid-afternoon snack should be a stop at Scuteri's Cannoli Connection in Watkins Glen where you'll find not only fresh filled cannoli but the scrumptious cannoli cake-both stuffed with a ricotta cheese concoction that is a secret Scuteri family recipe. Although brides and grooms have been known to order a whole cake for the wedding, you can buy a slice of this three-layered cake filled with Scuteri's cannoli cream and strawberries. The topping is crushed cannoli shells on a layer of buttercream icing. Decadent but delightful and for those who want something "a little" less rich, try the bread-pudding with bourbon sauce or the delicate Sfogliatelle! Take your treat down to the Watkins Glen Waterfront and enjoy the view and the Scuteri Family recipe!

Best Cannolis...and Cannoli Cake!

For dinner try the Crooked Rooster or the new BBQ (Nickle's) that the Rooster's son (Nicholas Thayer) recently opened. My husband the vegan could only savor the home-made 3 bean (white, pinto, and chick-pea) salad but I gobbled the tender ribs that had been slow cooking for me in The Beast. All the meat is local(Autumn's Harvest Farm) and smoked fresh daily. In fact, if you don't get there before 9 pm on a Saturday night, you might only find the curly fries. Not a bad find but you'll miss the best part. Both Nickel's and the Rooster serve their own craft beer which they brew right behind the glass wall in Nickel's.


Food & Lodging & Activities:

Watkins Glen is the Schuyler County seat and it has a wealth of lodging options-from less expensive motels to lakeside modern hotels to quaint B&B's to rustic but comfortable lodges. It's worth staying a few days in Watkins Glen, too. You should not leave without hiking in the Watkins Glen State Park. The gorge trail takes you under waterfalls and along cascades; there are rim trails with spectacular sights and woodland trails that are lovely as well. If you brought your suit, you can also cool off at the Olympic-sized swimming pool and bring a picnic lunch to the State Park. The other must-do is a trip on the lake. Captain Bill's cruises ("The Fun Ships of the Finger Lakes") offers brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises (many with themes-e.g. burgers & blues or Honky Tonk night). Another type of cruise is the Schooner "True Love" which holds no more than 22 passengers and has a morning, afternoon, and sunset cruise. You can board both at the Seneca Harbor Pier.

And, you shouldn't leave Watkins Glen without stopping at the Glen Mountain Bakery & Market to pick up my favorite Blues Brother sandwich (turkey, blue cheese, apple, lettuce, tomato, sprouts on a focaccia roll). Plenty of breakfast and lunch options for the vegetarians and vegans, too, as well as hand rolled and freshly-baked bagels and baguettes to go.

And, if it's raining, stop by the quilt shop or antique shops during the day and at night, the restored Glen Theatre for a movie. And, if you need a new pair of hiking shorts or a rain jacket, don't forget Famous Brands on Franklin Street in the heart of Watkins Glen.

Traveling the Trails.
Following the Railroads and Canal from Lake to Lake.

Day 4

View Day 4 in a larger map

The map for this section of the Finger Lakes/North Country Trail is available here.