By Shannon Dortch
Cornell Botanic Gardens and partner organizations launched a new website in April designed to help outdoor enthusiasts find and take the perfect walk, hike, bike, ski, or even horseback ride. Out on the Trails at IthacaTrails.org is a GPS-enabled, mobile-optimized site that maps all of the trails in Tompkins County, and invites users to search by the experience they seek. Criteria include distance, difficulty, scenic views, wildlife viewing, or picnicking, and also access directions to trailheads and information on parking.
“Our County boasts 240 miles of public trails, but since they span 15 different organizations, many residents and visitors find trail information in bits and pieces,” said Todd Bittner, Director of Natural Areas at the Cornell Botanic Gardens and one of the key grant managers. “The beauty of the new Out on the Trails website is that it provides comprehensive information on all the trails, regardless of ownership.”
The site links to each partner organization’s website for more information on the organization and its park or trail. The site features trail descriptions, photographs, and a user-friendly layout, designed to encourage users to explore the County’s outdoor recreation offerings more deeply.
The Cornell Botanic Gardens maintains 32 miles of trails through its natural areas. The Cayuga Trail, which spans from Fall Creek Gorge eastward, then circumnavigates its Monkey Run Natural Area, is a 10 mile-trail, maintained in partnership with the Cayuga Trails Club.
“The website also leads you to hikes in some of our lesser known natural areas such as Edwards Lake Cliffs, Fischer Old-Growth Forest, and Ellis Hollow Wetlands,” said Bittner.
The Cornell Botanic Gardens is offering hikes during the month of May and throughout the summer months to celebrate local trails. On May 20, and June 27, Peter Davies, Cornell University professor emeritus plant biology and horticulture, will lead extended hikes through the Cornell Botanic Gardens’ arboretum, woodland trails, and gardens. Guided Gorge Hikes take place every Saturday and Sunday, beginning June 17. The botanic gardens’ knowledgeable gorges stewards lead these moderately strenuous hour-long hikes in the Fall Creek and Cascadilla gorges.
IthacaTrails.org is a partnership of the Tompkins County Parks and Trails Network. Partner organizations include the Cornell Botanic Gardens, Town of Ulysses, Tompkins County Tourism Program, Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability , Ithaca Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Finger Lakes Land Trust, NY State Parks, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Ithaca College Natural Lands, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, City of Ithaca, Town of Ithaca, Town of Lansing, Town of Dryden, Town of Danby, the Nature Conservancy, and user groups, including Bike Walk Tompkins, the Cayuga Trails Club, and Finger Lakes Trails Conference.
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Shannon Dortch is associate director Communications and Marketing for Cornell Botanic Gardens. East Hill Notes are published the second and fourth Mondays of each month.