I got “lost” on this loop the last time I tried it. This time, in addition to the 2 dogs and the topo map, I also brought a human friend… who brought a compass. This time, while we did get momentarily “lost” a couple of times, we were able to find our way – and that was definitely thanks to the compass!
We hiked the loop in the opposite direction from last time.
Coon Run Road was not plowed. I parked the car near the maintenance area and we walked up to the red arrow on the map to start the hike following blue blazes and hiker signs – the first leg of the Park’s Fire Tower Trail. Due to budget cuts, a lot of the Park’s trails are in disrepair and we encountered a lot of downed branches and trees. The worst of it was just after we crossed Willis Creek. The trail appears to go off to the right paralleling Quaker Creek – but then it ends.
We took this as a sign that we should have a coffee break. Certain members of the party thought that mean a play break.
After coffee, we re-traced our steps, pulled out the topo and compass, and discovered that our way was blocked by a significant tree-fall! Once we had picked our way around it, I took this picture from the other side:
Zooming in, you can see a blaze, and an orange flag that someone put there to be helpful.
Anyway, once we found the trail, we were good to go again… though a few more blue blazes would have been helpful.
It was this kind of a day – fresh snow, though not a lot of it, setting off the brilliant blue sky, orange-tan beech leaves, and deep green of the hemlock trees. So beautiful. As with many of the trails at Allegany State Park, there is a lot of uphill climbing on the first part of your walk. The views from the top are worth it, though not entirely photograph-able… Still, I try:
The yellow star on the map above is where the Fire Tower Trail meets up with the Finger Lakes / North Country Trail. This trail is maintained by the Allegany Chapter of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and is well marked with white blazes and well-maintained.
We followed this to the lean-to at Willis Creek (green circle on the map above), then back down to Coon Run Road at the blue arrow on the map. It took us 6 hours. That’s with 3 snack breaks. And we’re not very fast hikers.