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The Last Hike

The final hike to complete my end-to-end journey on the Finger Lake Trail began in a rush. Arriving home, quickly packing, and leaving the following day to arrive at Allegany State Park. I was joined on this hike by my girlfriend, Mary-Margaret, my son Dilan, and my friend Tim.

We rented a cabin in the State Park and planned our hike for the next day. The night before the hike temperatures dropped to near 30. I awoke in the middle of the night shivering; the fire had burned down. After restarting the fire I caught a few hours of sleep.

Having gotten little sleep we were slow to start and were running behind schedule. In our rush to pack, we had forgotten a number of items. While Tim and I hiked the first half of the trail Mary-Margaret and Dilan went shopping for the missing supplies.

The trail took Tim and I to the NY/PA border quickly. From there it wound its way through brilliant fall foliage under a beautiful blue sky. We crossed several small streams before arriving at a large footbridge over Wolf Run.

After leaving Wolf Run we climbed up Mt Tuscarora and down to the Willis Creek Lean-to. We passed a father and his young daughter just before reaching our turn around at Coon Run Rd where Mary-Margaret and Dilan were waiting.

We ate a quick lunch and then started off on the second half of the hike back to PA 346, Dilan joining us for this part. It was late and the sun was sinking quickly. We raced the sun setting a fast pace and only breaking for short periods.

As the sun sank behind the hills we finally arrived at the NY/PA border and the western terminus of the Finger Lakes Trail. After a few pictures we descended down the last mile to PA 346 to meet Mary-Margaret. My end-to-end out-and-back journey complete.

The Last Hike Before The Last Hike

I began my last pre-dawn hiking start in the quiet darkness of early morning. Just before 4:30 AM I left my house for the long drive to Allegany State Park. By the time I arrived at the trailhead the sun was up and shining through the trees.

The first part of my hike took me a short distance west to Coon Run Road. A short distance before reaching the road I arrived at a well-made footbridge over the stream. I took several pictures of the stream and then made my way to the dirt road before heading back.

The second part of my hike headed east and took me up Mount Oneida. I passed by an old dilapidated lean-to and discovered its new replacement a short distance beyond. The trail continued on through the forest and came to an old grassy logging skid. After walking down the old road I crossed ASP 1 and continued on up to the blue trail junction and my turn around.

I reached the turn around and continued back. The weather was warm and wonderful smells of early fall wafted through the air. Soon I was back at the new lean-to. After a short break I continued on and encountered another hiker travelling the same direction as I. We walked and chatted and met another hiker heading the opposite direction. He intended to camp at the lean-to.

We descended down from the top of Mount Oneida and encountered a trio of hikers also planning to camp at the lean-to. After arriving back at my car I headed back to the cabins in the Quaker area of Allegany State Park to explore where I planned to stay for the final hike.

Busy Trail

I started my hike from the large parking lot next to the casino in Salamanca. The air was cool, clouds hung low, and fog wrapped around the hills. The trail led west away from the casino through a power line right-of-way. I picked my way around many wet and muddy areas before finally arriving at Breed Run Road.

After reaching Breed Run Road I followed the road to an unnamed dirt road where I met four Seneca Nation youths. Their leader, Cory, told me about the trail ahead. The trail took me up over the hill and then down to Hatchery Road. Hatchery Road curled around a pond and beaver lodge before leading me out to ASP 2.

I followed ASP 2 to Bay State Road and then onto FLT Map M1, the last map I needed to complete. I climbed up over a hill and down to Beck Hollow Lean-to. After cleaning up the lean-to area I continued on and encountered a pair of couples from Ontario. A short time later I meet a trio of women.

Upon reaching my turn around I headed back to the lean-to for lunch. I met the three women at the lean-to, also eating lunch. They continued on, but I caught up to them once again near Bay State Road. From Bay State Road, I made my way back up ASP 2 to Hatchery Road and up a steep climb over the hill.

I came back down the hill, past the area where I had met Cory and his friends, and back to Breed Run Road. Just after leaving the road I snapped a picture of a Monarch butterfly on a stalk of goldenrod. I continued on back to the power line right-of-way. Once again I picked my way past many wet and muddy spots and finally arrived back the casino parking lot.

The Last Long Road-Walk

My last long road-walk started from the Seneca Casino at the end of NY 417 in Salamanca, NY. I met up with Chase and his girlfriend Zoe. The air was cool, but we warmed up quickly as we walked. Our hike took us through Salamanca and out through a sleepy residential neighborhood in the quiet morning hours.

We continued on up Sawmill Run Road past a few scattered houses. A horse watched us from a lavish stable as we continued winding on up the road. Finally we arrived at the trailhead leaving the road. We walked up through a driveway and continued on up the hill. Ahead of us a logging operation was in progress. A large claw crane loaded large logs onto a flatbed truck.

After passing the truck we continued on until we reached a detour and re-route for another logging operation. The trail wound down a small single lane dirt track until we reached W. Branch Bucktooth Hollow Road. Another mile brought us the next trailhead where we left the road to hike a short distance to the lean-to.

At the lean-to we relaxed and enjoyed a nice lunch. After a short break we started back to our cars at the casino. We climbed up the dirt-track road and back to the start of the detour. The claw crane was still loading logs as we passed by once again. We descended back down to Sawmill Run Road and then back into Salamanca. Our feet sore and hurting we “cut the corner” on our way back to the casino.

The Last Overnight (Day 2)

I woke in the middle of the night on day two of an overnight hike to the sound of wind hissing through the trees, soon followed by light rain. After falling back to sleep I woke again in the morning to gray skies and damp air. I climbed back up over the hill and down to West Branch Bucktooth Hollow Road. After turning right on the road I arrived at 4th Street and a long climb up to the next trailhead.

After completing the climb I counted my remaining water knowing I needed to ration. I made my way down a rough and rugged section of trail as fog drifted through the tree to arrive at the Pat McGee Rail Trail. Although flat and straight the rail trail was torturous. Sweating and hot I paused at an old railroad bridge for a break before continuing on.

The trail took me past the Elkdale Golf Club and up a road with fresh stone. I felt every stone under my feet as if it were a hot coal. After leaving the road I climbed up an old logging skid and finally up to the brand new lean-to near Little Rock City. I continued on through the massive boulders, too tired to take more pictures. Once past the area I descended down through the tornado ravaged area and out onto Hungry Hollow Road.

After a break to drench myself with water from a stream running next to the road I started the last leg of the trail back to my car. Moments later thunder rumbled and rain began to pour. I completed the last 1.5 miles in a soaking rain. As I drove off the storm became fierce; rain came down in buckets and lightning flashed. My drive home took me in and out of tremendous storms.

The Last Overnight (Day 1)

Day one of an overnight hike began early with a long drive. After parking off McCarthy Hill Road I made my way down past the old CCC Camp Seneca. The trail took me back up a climb through an area devastated by a tornado in 2010. Once I had finished the climb the trail wound through the woods and large boulders began to appear. My boot caught on a root and the toe pulled back causing the sole to flop loosely.

A short time later I came to the awesome spectacle of Little Rock City and forgot all about my broken boot. Massive boulders soared high above me as roots grew down moss the moss covered sides. I wound my way through the giant rocks and left them behind too soon. Along the way I stopped at a brand new lean-to before continuing on. My path took me past the Elkdale Golf club and onto the Pat McGee Rail Trail where I crossed an old railroad bridge.

After a very long walk on the rail trail I turned off and climbed up through a rough and rugged section to finally arrive at 4th Street. A steep descent down the road took me to the next trailhead and I climbed up through tall weeds and grass. I passed a non-existent tent site and finally descended to the Bucktooth State Forest Lean-to — my “home” for the night.

Up The Downhill

I started my hike at the next road crossing west of US 219 where I had been turned back previously. After hiking to the top of a ridge above US 219 I was once again force to turn back; this time due to briars and an eroded path down the steep slope. After returning to my starting point I continued on west on the trail, passing through a future housing development and on up over a hill.

I descended down to Maples Road and made my way across a yard next to a barn. At the back of the yard I was unable to find a blaze and had to navigate using my digital map. Once back on the trail I climbed up another hill and around the side; blazes infrequent. The trail finally brought me down to NY 242 in Ellicottville.

I crossed NY 242 and continued my way into Holimont Ski Area. The trail took my up the ski slopes at an angle and then across the top past three ski lifts. After leaving the lifts behind I passed three ponds. A man and his dog, Reggie, were fishing at one, and a small beach full of families ended the third.

I continued on out to McCarthy Hill Road and then started back. At the beach area I stopped to rest in one of a pair of lean-tos. My track took me back along the top of the dike by one of the ponds and then back past the lifts and down the slope. I climbed up the hill and around and then back down to the yard on Maples Road.

One last steep climb greeted me on the other side of Maples Road. I slogged my way up the hill, pausing for a rest at a memorial bench before proceeding on. Finally I was descending back down through the future housing development and back to my car.

Shorter Than Planned

I planned out a 22.5 mile hike and started my long drive in the darkness of early morning. At 6:40 am I pulled my car to the side of South Canada Hill Road and started my hike a few minutes later. The trail climbed up to the top of the hill and then descended down the other side. A swarm of deer flies attacked me as I neared Fancy Track Road and I had to swat and move fast to keep from getting bitten. I crossed an old railroad track and stopped to take photos of the track as it faded into the distance.

Another climb took me up up past a memorial trail register and then down across a series of boardwalks, down a staircase, and across a footbridge over a small stream. The trail continued on up to the top of the hill and presented me with an incredible panorama as I waded up through the field of tall grass. The trail descended to Brennen Road where I snacked on some wild strawberries.

I continued on up a hollow to Irish Hill Road then descended down through a logging skid to Cotter Road. The trail leaving Cotter Road was difficult to follow with blazes not clearly visible. I climbed up a steep slope after crossing a small stream. The trail continued on around a hill and then descended to parallel US 219. The path was rocky, muddy, and slippery and I struggled my way along until I finally came to the US 219 crossing.

Once across the busy road I made my way down to the stream crossing through shoulder-high weeds. At the bottom of the descent I came to an impassable crossing. The stream had flooded and there was no way to continue on. Disappointed I turned back before reaching my planned goal.

I made my way back up, crossed over US 219, and then along the difficult path. I trudged up Cotter Road and paused for a break in a staging area for a logging operation. After a break I started another climb up Irish Hill. I continued on and once again stopped at Brennan Road for a few wild strawberries. Another break on a tractor path leading to the field at the top of the hill.

Two dogs coming down the trail gave me a fright and they retreated in front of me as I made my way up to the field. I crossed the small stream, climbed the staircase, and crossed the boardwalks. Soon I was back on Fancy Track Road and turning off on the last leg to S. Canada Hill Road.

Just after leaving Fancy Track Road I encountered another hiker who had gotten turned around. She was going the same direction I was so we walked together. Three times we lost our way and had to backtrack. Finally we came to the field above South Canada Hill Road and made our way down.

Blue Skies To Gray

Another long drive to the trailhead, nearly three hours. I met up with a new hiking partner on this hike, Chase. Cool temperatures, but sun a bright blue skies greeted us for a 7 am start. We waded up through wet grass from Bear Creek Road and took in a view from a power line right-of-way. That view was only a taste. As we continued along we encountered several more incredible views.

An incredible pallet of colors painted the view around a small pond off Jackson Forest Road. From there we made our way to Boyce Hill Lean-to for a short break and then continued on yo NY 242. By the time we reached the road the skies had clouded over. After leaving NY 242 we climbed over a railroad track and across a foot bridge. The trail continued on through the woods before finally arriving at Fancy Tract Road.

We hiked up the road until it turned into Canada Hill Road and we arrived at the next trailhead. This was our turn-around and a good place to stop for lunch. After a nice lunch break we made our way back. Along the way we helped a landowner push his stuck riding mower out of a muddy rut. As we neared the end of our hike we found a small section of trail we had missed in the morning; it was narrow and rough and took us down some steep switchbacks. Finally we arrived back at our cars a a little before 4:30 pm.

Slip And Slide

First hike of the 2019 season arrived with cool temperatures and mainly cloudy skies. It also arrived with lots of mud and wet patches. I started off with a 2.5 hour drive to the trailhead, and arrived just after the sun began to shine. The trail took me through two hollows and across a few streams. I entered a dark and chilly pine forest and descended across a patch of ice.

The trail wound its way past a nice picnic/rest area near Harwood Haven Campground before entering the campground. A long road-walk along NY 98 and then Kingsbury Hill Road followed. From there I made my way through mud and much on an old logging skid and then down past a house where dozens of chickens surrounded me.

After leaving the chickens behind I made my way to a very busy NY 16 and another road-walk. The walk along NY 16 was thankfully short and I arrived at Bear Creek Road. Finally I arrived at my turn around point on Bear Creek Road, took a few pictures, and made my way back.

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