23.08 miles, 2.9mph avg moving, 2.4mph avg overall, 7h:56m moving, 1h:41m stopped, 8h:48m total time, max elevation 2289ft, total assent 3016ft, 130.68ft/mi. FLT M9
Total trail miles completed to-date: 445.0 (74.4%)
The night before my hike I made my preparations. I copied the GPS coordinates of the access point I planned to start from into Google Maps and mapped the driving directions; the drive time was 2 hours. After double-checking my pack I turned in early for a very early start; my alarm was set for 4 am.
I hit snooze once, but was up after the second alarm. My first order of business, make coffee and eat breakfast. After I finished my breakfast I made my trail lunch, packed water and snacks, and loaded all of my gear into the my car in the early morning darkness. I set up my car phone-mount to use my phone for navigation and pulled up the search history in the Google Maps app. The first entry listed my destination and I selected it, started the navigation, and head out.
Two hours later, the sun rising as a big red ball behind me, I exited the highway and turned left on to Karr Valley Road, a paved road with a stripe down the middle and a speed limit of 55. A few miles down the road Google announced I had arrived at my destination – wait, what!? I knew that the access point I had turned around at on my previous hike was on a small single lane dirt road, not a well-traveled county road. At the next road to my right I turned off and and pulled over to check the map.
I quickly realized what happened. Although I had done my initial search the night before with GPS coordinates, Google does not save that in history. Instead it saves the closest street address it can find. When I had pulled up my search history it had used that location instead of the actual GPS coordinates. After scanning the map I found the road I needed, not far from my current location.
I continued on up the road and it quickly turned into a single-lane dirt road with two tire-width tracks on each side. I switched my car into all-wheel-drive and bounced along the small road. As I drove I passed two FLT crossings, but not the one I was looking for. Finally, after two turns and several minutes I found my access point. I pulled into a parking area not far from the trailhead and prepared for the hike (mile 0.0 – 7:12 am).
A short walk up the road I arrived at the trailhead. I checked my bearings on my GPS, found I was facing the wrong direction, and turned around to take the trail on the opposite side of the road. The trail began to descend and my first thought was that I would be coming back up this after 22 miles and it would “suck”.
Halfway down the hill I came to a trail register. I stopped to sign in on the register book and flipped to the last page with an entry. Three previous entries filled half of the page on the right side of the book, but the left side had been left blank. Below the entries someone wrote, “Feel free to use the preceeding [sic] empty space!! i.E. don’t be wasteful and annoying.” I obliged and wrote in the blank area, even though it bothered the OCD in me. I placed the register book back in the register and continued on.
The trail opened out on Bully Hill Road next to a culvert (mile 1.0 – 7:34 am). Bully Hill Road was another small dirt road, in fact it was one of the roads that I had driven on only a short time earlier. A house sat on the opposite side of the road. The trail blazes directed me to the right up the road for a short distance and then turned left off the road and back into the woods.
After leaving the road the trail paralleled it for nearly two miles before opening out onto Karr Road; the same road I had started out on, but further west (mile 2.6 – 8:07 am). I had also driven past this trailhead earlier as well. I walked down the road and across a small culvert. The road turned to the left and the trail continued on straight ahead. As soon as I left the road the trail began a small climb.
Less than 10 minutes later I came out onto yet another one of the many small dirt roads that meandered through this area, Andrew Ferry Road (mile 3.0 – 8:15 am). I entered the road at an angle as it came around a corner. Nearby was a good parking area. A short distance beyond the parking area the trail turned off the road to the right.
I came to a row of tall red pines which create a tunnel-like effect. Soon after passing through the pine trees the trail turned sharply to the left and began to descend and I came to several pairs of boards stretched over a wet area. As the trail descended many of the stretchers were elevated on the low side creating a long step-like effect. I crossed each and hopped down to the next. Finally the stretchers ended and the trail opened onto Forest Road (mile 3.5 – 8:29 am).
I crossed the road and the trail turned to the right almost immediately. I came upon a moss covered area of the trail. A log lay across the trail covered in green as well as the ground around it. I paused to take a picture before moving on again.
The trail began to descend along a small ditch. As it descended the ditch grew into a gully and finally into a small stream. I came to a crossing and climbed down across the stream and back up the other side. A small spur trail branched to my left and up to the Bully Hill Lean-to. I decided it was a good time to stop and take a break (mile 3.9 – 8:46 am).
The lean-to looked fairly new and I thought it would have been a nice spot for an overnight hike. After drinking some water and eating a little of a homemade granola bar, I hoisted my pack and set out again. The trail continued to descend until I came to Bush Road (mile 4.6 – 9:05 am).
I climbed down the bank to stand at the edge of the road. This road, although still dirt and gravel, was larger than the previous roads I had encountered and more well-traveled. A large field sat across the road and gave me a view across to a hill on the far side. The trail turned to follow the road downhill.
At the bottom of the hill I came to a one-lane bridge. It carried the road across a small creek, although the map labeled it as Canisteo River. I crossed the bridge and a large farmhouse with a well manicured yard sat to my left. Just beyond the farmhouse I came to a “T” intersection where Bush Road met North Almond Valley Road (mile 5.0 – 9:15 am).
Unlike all the previous roads, North Almond Valley Road was a paved road. I turned left on the road and continued along on my road walk. The road climbed slightly and I was able to look back across the valley and field to Bush Road and the trailhead.
Soon after the trail blazes turned right to climb up a small dirt road called Gas Springs Road (mile 5.2 – 9:19 am). The road brought me into the Klipnocky State Forest as proclaimed by a large sign beside the road. I continued to climb up the road until the trail veered off to the right. A small hand-painted sign marking the trail as a “foot trail” stood to the right (mile 5.9 – 9:34 am).
The trail continued along for a short distance before turning sharply to the right. It climbed slightly as it continued on. After about one-half mile the trail leveled and soon after I came to State Forest Access Road (mile 6.8 – 9:54 am). The road, like so many of the others before, was a small single-lane dirt road. I crossed over and continue on my way.
After crossing State Forest Access Road the trail began to descend quickly. I came to a few sections where large rocks, some the size of melons, lay scattered across the trail and surrounding area. The rocks were covered with a small layer of moss, and ferns grew up between them. It made navigating the area treacherous; the rocks shifted and moved under my feet. I slowed my pace and carefully navigated my way through. I nick-named these sections “ankle breakers”.
After passing through the “ankle breakers” the trail came to a creek. The creek bed was nearly dry, which surprised me. A few puddles lay among the large rocks, but no water ran over or around the rocks. I crossed and started a climb up the hill on the other side.
I arrived at Roots Road (mile 7.9 – 10:31 am), yet another single-lane dirt road, and turned onto the road to follow it. Soon after I came to a junction and turned left onto Bill Morris Road. There was a gate just past the junction that stood open. I passed through the gate and came to a small pond sitting to the left of the road. The pond reflected the blue sky and I noticed a few of the maple trees that bordered the pond were beginning to show the first red color of fall.
After take several pictures I continued on Bill Morris Road past the pond. The sun was shinning down brightly and it was getting warm. A short distance later the trail left the road (mile 8.6 – 10:46 am). A closed gate block cars from going beyond that point, but gaps on either side of the gate allowed me to walk around and continue on. The trail followed a small “service” road and then turned off and passed through a campsite. Just beyond the campsite I saw another small pond.
This section of the trail was a longer one; from Roots Road to Slader Creek Road the distance was about three miles. The trail only made a few small turns and remained mostly level which allowed me to keep up a good pace. After walking for about 1.5 miles I came to a sign nailed to a tree. The sign indicated a spring, toilet, and campsite were to my right. I decided pass by for now and check it on my way back.
Nearly a mile later I came to the top of a field (mile 10.8 – 11:33 am). A valley lay in front of me and hills, checkered with more fields, surrounded it. I walked down along the edge of the field on a tractor path and came to a closed gate. To the left of the gate a stile allowed people to climb over the fence and past the gate. I climbed up and over and continued down the tractor path.
It wound down the hill into the valley below. I saw an old barn sitting to my left and a small creek beyond it. As I passed by the barn I saw that it was occupied; a group of cows clustered in the shade of the barn. They watched me as I passed by with only mild interest. I crossed over the small stream and came to another closed gate at the edge of Slader Creek Road (mile 11.2 – 11:42 am), my turn around point. I took a few pictures and then headed back past the barn and its occupants and up the tractor path.
I came back to the stile next to the closed gate and climbed over. Once I was over I walked up the field and back into the woods. Not long after I found myself back at the sign indicating the spring, toilet, and campsite (mile 12.3 – 12:15 pm). I noticed that a trail register lay on the ground here. It had fallen off of its mount on a tree. I had not seen it on my way past earlier.
I signed in on the register book and then moved the register box to sit at the base of the tree, making it more visible to hikers coming from both directions. After I returned home I would send a trail report to the FLT about the fallen register. I left the register behind and headed down the trail to the spring, toilet, and campsite. The spring was piped and barely running; only a small trickle of water dripped out of the pipe. The outhouse sat on the opposite side of the campsite from the spring (definitely a good thing). I took a few pictures and then headed back up to the main trail.
Finally I found myself back at the campsite next to the pond near Bill Morris Road (mile 14.0 – 12:53 pm). This was a perfect spot to stop for lunch and a rest break. I happily set my pack down and removed my boots and socks. After I finished eating I walked, barefoot, down to the pond to sit in the sun. After a nice rest I stood up and returned to my pack. I pulled on fresh socks and my boots and walked back down to the pond with my camera to take a few pictures. Once satisfied with my picture taking, I returned to the campsite, hoisted my pack and set out again.
I passed around the closed gate and turned onto Bill Morris Road. The sun was hot and bright and I walked near the edge of the road where there was a small amount of shade. I passed by the pond and through the open gate and arrived at the junction with Roots Road (mile 15.1 – 1:40 pm).
After leaving Roots Road the trail continued straight as it descended to the nearly dry stream I had crossed earlier. I crossed over and began the climb up the hill on the other side. I slogged up the hill passing carefully through the “ankle breaker” sections. Finally I reached the top of the climb and the trail leveled out.
I crossed over State Forest Access Road (mile 16.1 – 2:06 pm) and continued on. The trail began a very gentle decent and I was able to move along quickly. After a sharp turn to the left and a short walk later I found myself back on Gas Springs Road.
I followed the road down, past the large Klipnocky State Forest sign, to the bottom where it came to a junction with the paved North Almond Valley Road (mile 17.8 – 2:42 pm). I turned left onto the road and moved along quickly; road walks are not my favorite, and it was hot under the sun and my feet were aching.
I quickly arrived at the intersection with Bush Road and turned right to continue following it. The road crossed the one-lane bridge and then began a climb up the hill. I could hear people further up the road riding ATVs. They stopped and I could hear them hooting and hollering. The trail turned off and took me up a bank at the edge of the road and then continued on up the hill. I decided to take a quick break before continuing on (mile 18.4 – 2:53 pm).
The climb was not steep, but it was steady and long. I came to the branch trail that led up to the lean-to, since I had just stopped for a break I continued on past. Once across the little creek near the lean-to the trail started a steeper climb which I trudged up. Finally, the trail leveled out and I found myself passing through the moss covered area and then turning onto Forest Road (mile 19.7 – 3:31 pm).
I crossed the road and then started the climb up the boards that were placed over the wet ground. I made my way across the boards and then passed back through the pine tree “tunnel”. Although the trail was nearly level and easy to walk, I repeatedly slammed the toes of my boots into roots and rocks. Each time I did I cursed, sometimes under my breath, and let out a yowl of pain. I came to the sharp right turn in the trail and headed toward Andrew Ferry Road.
Upon reaching Andrew Ferry Road I turned left on the road for a short road walk (mile 20.2 – 3:43 pm). The trail left the road continuing straight as the road veered off to the right. A quick downhill hike and I found myself on the western access point of Karr Road (mile 20.6 – 3:53 pm). I crossed the culvert and then turned right off the road.
The next section was a longer section, but was thankfully mostly level. The trail paralleled Bully Hill Road, although I could not see it, before finally coming out on that road (mile 22.2 – 4:32 pm). I reached the road and turned right for a short walk down the road. Once past the house on my right and across the small culvert the trail turned left off the road.
I knew the trail would start a vigorous climb back up to Karr Road from here. Although it was not a long distance, I had already hiked a long way and I was tired. I decide to take one more rest break before tackling the climb. After a short rest I mentally steeled myself and started up the hill.
I came to the trail register I had encountered earlier in the morning. I signed in once again and I also wrote below the note asking people to use the blank page, “I did even though the OCD in me cried”.
The register behind me, I knew I was almost done, but the steepest part of the trail was ahead. I paused a couple times to catch my breath and let my heart rate slow as I climbed. Finally the trail leveled. A short distance later it opened out onto Karr Road. I turned left and headed for the parking area and my car (mile 23.08 – 5:00 pm).
The hike had been just over 23 miles and I was happy to be done. I stowed my pack in my car, changed my shirt, and swapped my boots for sandals. I got in my car and started the navigation on my phone to take me home.
Google informed me that I needed to go straight on Karr Road. I continued on and soon Google informed to take a left on the next road. I slowed as I approached. If there had been a road to the left it was no longer passable and had not been a road for many years. Now there was only a little parking area and beyond it was all overgrown. I kept going past that “turn” and Google recalculated.
I passed by the western access point of Karr Road and crossed the culvert and turned left while the trail continued on up the hill straight ahead. Google instructed me to make a left turn at the upcoming junction. I again slowed as I approached. This time there was a road to the left, however there was also a closed gate. I turned right and Google once again recalculated.
The road came to a left turn and I saw another FLT access point; I was on Andrew Ferry Road. I came to another junction and this time I was able to turn left. This was Mike Dixon Road, still a single-lane dirt road. It led me to a junction with Ryan Road, also a dirt road, but much wider and much more well-traveled. Ryan Road finally led me to Karr Valley Road. I was soon back on I-86 and my long two-hour drive home.