Trumansburg Connection: Outdoor recreation abounds in T-burg

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Winter is upon us. For some, like myself, it is a time of rest and reflection, to spend time playing family games, cook soul-warming food, catch up on that reading, and binge watch missed shows. To me, it is summertime that is synonymous with outdoor recreation, but for those who would rather be outside than hunker down for the long winter sleep, there are plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities to be had in the Trumansburg area. Perhaps the most obvious choices for fun outside are hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing, and this is your guide to nothing but the best the Trumansburg area has to offer.


There are paths and trails galore suitable for hiking including the Finger Lakes National Forest just outside of Trumansburg in the Burdett and Hector areas. The Forest, which is New York’s only public, federally managed land, is over 16,000 acres, or over 30 miles. This is also a great place for animal watching, including a seemingly endless amount of birds, beavers, bobcats, foxes, and more. The ranger station is located on Rt. 414 in Hector.


The Black Diamond Trail is an old passenger rail line of the Lehigh Valley Railroad called the Black Diamond Express, which ran from New York City to Buffalo between the late 1800s and the middle of the 20th century. The current trail was completed in 2016, is approximately 9 miles long, and connects Ithaca at Cass Park and the South Rim Trailhead at Taughannock Falls on Jacksonville Road. Many enjoy walking from Trumansburg to Ithaca, enjoying scenery such as plant and animal life including woods and farmland and animals, and then riding the T-Cat back to Trumansburg.


Hiking the Taugahnnock Falls trails is always a treat at any time of year, but in the winter it comes with some warnings. According to the Taughannock Falls website, “The stair sections on the rim trails at Taughannock Falls State Park are closed for the season. The South Rim Trail is closed from the Gorge Road parking area (top) to the Gorge Trail parking lot (bottom) and the North Rim trail stairs are closed with an alternate route posted to hike around the stairs on the North side. The viewing platform at the Taughannock Falls Overlook is also closed. Please obey all signs and stay off closed trails, these trails will re-open when weather and conditions permit.” However, you can still enjoy the main Gorge Trail, and join in on the First Hike, which takes place on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.


What better way to tap into that childlike joy and nostalgia like sledding, and Rice Hill is the place to go! The long hill is located on Rice Road, which is situated to the north side of the park. It is maintained by park staff, and in addition to sledding, the area also has two skating ponds - one for family skating and one for hockey, and a warming shed with a fire. There are also some multi-use trails for hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing.


For those who are interested in trying out skiing, but don’t want to purchase the equipment should check out the Podunk Cross Country Ski Center in Covert, which is north of Trumansburg. Half-day rentals run around $13 and full day rentals run around $24. They are open Tuesday through Sunday, mid-morning to mid-afternoon.


Cayuga Nature Center, located between Ithaca and Trumansburg is a great place to interact with nature, especially animals. Every Saturday around noon they hold the Animal Encounters: Feeding Series, where animal lovers can interact and pick the brains of the knowledgeable staff. In the past CNC has also held winter night hikes. At this time there are no hikes planned, but winter is only just beginning.


Originally gifted to the Village of Trumansburg in 1909, Smith Woods is located at the south entrance of the Village on Rt. 96 and is also maintained by Cayuga Nature Center/Paleontological Research Institute. Although the woods are fenced, there are gated entrances on the southwest corner at Falls and Cemetery Roads, and at the northeast corner near the ShurSave driveway. The 32-acre woods is free and open to the public during the daylight hours and is a wonderful place to take in a different kind of natural scenery that only an old-growth forest can provide. Visitors are asked to stay on the trails in this 32-acre forest and be generally respectful of the woods and other visitors.

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