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Hiking in Cortland County
North Country Trail
Baker School House
This short 4.3 mile section of the North Country Trail travels through Baker School House State Forest with some of trail traveling through PRIVATE PROPERTY. The last 0.8 miles of trail near NY 41 is CLOSED FOR HUNTING from Oct 1 to Dec 31. This stretch of the NCT coincides with the Finger Lakes Trail and has white blazes.
There is no good parking at the start of this section as the trail crosses Underwood Hill Road and continues into PRIVATE PROPERTY. There is no camping on private property and hikers should stay on the marked trail. At 0.7 miles cross McGraw Marathon Road. There is no parking at this road crossing as well. You are still on PRIVATE PROPERTY. Soon cross Smith Brook. This can be a dangerous crossing during times of high water. At 1.3 miles the trail turns left and enters Baker School House State Forest. There is a view to the NW.
Prior to reaching Baker School House Road, pass an old circular stone pool built by the CCC back in the 1930s. At 1.9 miles cross Baker School House Road with limited shoulder parking. The trail continues to meander in the state forest and at 2.8 miles cross a seasonal DEC Forest dirt road. At 3.0 miles reach a high point on Nottage Hill (1881 feet) and begin a sometimes steep descent, entering PRIVATE PROPERTY at 3.5 miles. THIS STRETCH OF TRAIL IS CLOSED FOR HUNTING FROM OCTOBER 1 - DECEMBER 31. At 3.9 miles reach an old railroad bed, turning left to follow this old grade. At just over 4.0 miles turn right off the old grade, and soon cross Trout Brook then Pritchard Brook. The final stretch of trail is through a meadow where you are guided by wooden stakes before reaching NY 41 at 4.3 miles and the end of this section of the North Country Trail.
The main trail turns left on NY 41, then right on Telephone Road for a nearly two mile road walk. The next off road section is in Taylor Valley State Forest, near a large parking area off Telephone Road.
Directions: From Syracuse take I-81 south to Exit 10. Turn right on NY 41 to McGraw. In the village turn right on Clinton Street, then veer right onto Spring Street. Spring Street will become McGraw-Marathon Road. Turn left on Baker School House Road. Drive 0.9 miles to where the NCT crosses the road. There is a yellow Finger Lakes Trail sign at the trailhead. The GPS coordinates are N42 34.479 W76 01.566 for those who have a GPS devise.
North Country Trail in Baker Schoolhouse State Forest
Mile Elevation Description 0.0 1650 feet Cross Underwood Hill Road. No parking available here. Trail on PRIVATE PROPERTY. 0.7 1374 feet Cross McGraw Marathon Road. No parking available here. Trail still on PRIVATE PROPERTY. 0.8 1370 feet Cross Smith Brook. Crossing can be dangerous during times of high water. 1.3 1669 feet Trail turns left. Entering Baker Schoolhouse State Forest. Views to the SE. 1.9 1528 feet
Cross Baker School House Rd. Limited shoulder parking. GPS coordinates are N42 34.479 W76 01.566
2.8 1773 feet Cross seasonal DEC Forest Road 3.0 1881 feet Reach high point on Nottage Hill. 3.5 1527 feet Reach PRIVATE PROPERTY. TRAIL CLOSED for HUNTING from 10/1 to 12/31 from here to NY 41. 3.9 1327 feet Turn left on old railroad bed. 4.05 1317 feet Turn right off old railraod bed. 4.1 1296 feet Cross Trout Brook and then cross Pritchard Brook. Follow wooden stakes to NY 41. 4.3 1311 feet Reach NY 41 and end of this section. No parking. Turn left, following NY 41 to Telephone Road. Next section of the North Country Trail is the Taylor Valley State Forest section.
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