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Hiking in Cortland County
North Country Trail
Finger Lakes Trail
This is a very popular 15 mile section of the North Country Trail that features Havington Hill, Rowland Ridge, Kennedy State Forest, Foxfire Lean To, Babcock Hollow, Greek Peak and Virgil Mountain. Virgil Mountain is the highest point in Cortland County. This section begins along the Jim Schug Trail, which is a rail trail and follows the old Lehigh Valley railroad. This stretch of the NCT coincides with the white blazed Finger Lakes Trail.
After a short road walk the trail enters private property (no parking), enters Cortland County and ascends Havington Hill. Please stay on the trail while on private property. There are views of Dryden Lake and the Dryden Valley along an open field that the trail follows (see panorama above). The trail ascends Rowland Ridge and will cross a power line right of way. Soon you are on Cotton-Hanlon Lumber company land and this section of trail is closed for hunting from May 1-31 and October 1 - December 20 Please stay off the trail during these dates. Before reaching Daisy Hollow Road there is the junction of the Spanish Loop Trail.
After another road walk along Daisy Hollow Rd, the trail turns right and enters Kennedy State Forest. After ascending/descending a few times and crossing two seasonal dirt roads and Babcock Hollow Road the trail reaches Foxfire Lean-To (see panorama below). Shortly there is a view from the "rock pile" and the junction of the Dabes Diversion Trail. The trail then descends to first cross a stream and then ascends to cross seasonal dirt Bleck Road. There is some shoulder parking here.
You will see the blue blazed Kuzia Cutoff Trail on your left and then cross seasonal dirt Cortright Road. Turn left on this seasonal dirt road if water levels are high (high water bypass) in the upcoming creek. Soon the trail reaches an old woods road plus the junction of the Dabes Diversion Trail and the Virgil Mountain Trail at "four corners". The NCT will cross the stream twice before reaching O'Dell Road.
After a short road walk along O'Dell Road the trail turns right and begins ascending toward Greek Peak and Virgil Mountain. At 2132 feet, Virgil Mountain is the highest point in Cortland County. This is the highest point along the trail within 70 miles. There are some views along this section of trail. The trail follows power lines and reaches the junction of the Virgil Mountain Trail before veering left and beginning a steep descent toward Tone Road and the end of this section of trail. You'll pass an old boiler while on your descent. There is some shoulder parking from May to October on Tone Road. The GPS coordinates are N42 29.719 W76 07.267.
There are many loop hike opportunities in Kennedy State Forest as well as in the private property on the western side of the state forest.
DIRECTIONS - From Dryden, take South Street at main four corners in town. Turn left on Lake Street, then right on Lake Rd. You will pass Dryden Town Park on the right (veer left on Lake Rd here). You will cross the main NCT twice on this road (first time just past a right bend). At Purvis Rd junction, turn left on Willow Crossing Road. There is limited parking for the Jim Schug Rail Trail (which the NCT follows briefly). This is the start of this section of trail. The GPS coordinates are N42 26.824 W76 15.270 for those who have a GPS devise.
NCT near Greek Peak
Mile Elevation North Country Trail Description 0.0 1198 ft
NCT leaves Willow Crossing Rd following the Jim Schug Rail Trail. Parking. GPS N42 26.824 W76 15.270 Follow white blazes. This section is the continuation of the trail from Hammond Hill State Forest.
0.6 1168 ft
Leave rail trail and turn right on Lake Rd.
1.0 1223 ft
Turn right just past driveway following white blazes. Entering PRIVATE LAND. Electric Fence ahead, use stile.
1.25 1280 ft
Entering Cortland County.
1.5 1534 ft
1.7 1650 ft
Havington Hill Summit
1.9 1495 ft
Views of Dryden Lake, follow edge of field.
2.1 1438 ft
Cross Bud Brook
2.3 1516 ft
Blue blazed trail on right leads 500 feet to a view at the edge of a field.
2.8 1554 ft
Enter Cotton-Hanlon Lumber Company Land. This section of trail is CLOSED for HUNTING during the whole month of May AND from OOCTOBER 1 to DECEMBER 20.
3.6 1514 ft
Cross power lines and soon leave Cotton-Hanlon Lumber Company Land. Views.
3.7 1553 ft
3.9 1396 ft
Cross Rowland Creek (difficult to cross when high water). Junction of Spanish Loop Trail on right.
3.95 1404 ft
Turn left on Daisy Hollow Rd. Parking. GPS N42 27.792 W76 13.944
4.5 1537 ft
Turn right off road on old logging road. Enter Kennedy State Forest. Limited Parking. GPS N42 28.235 W76 13.880
4.8 1531 ft
5.3 1649 ft
Junction of blue blazed Swedish Loop Trail on left before descent to cross stream.
5.4 1657 ft
Two Creek Bivouac on right as trail ascends from stream.
5.8 1798 ft
Cross an ATV Trail.
6.1 1917 ft
Cross Owego Hill Rd. Junction of Spanish Loop Trail on right (orange blazes). Soon Trail register.
6.3 2033 ft
Owego Hill summit. Soon begin descent down hill on switchbacks.
7.3 1784 ft
Cross Bell-Hilsinger Road. Junction of blue blazed Swedish Loop Trail on left (follows dirt road).
8.0 1724 ft
Start of a very steep descent
8.4 1476 ft
End of steep descent. Trail register.
8.5 1513 ft
Cross Babcock Hollow Road. Limited Parking.
9.2 1665 ft
Cross small stream. Side trail on left leads to Kells Bivouac.
9.4 1733 ft
Foxfire Lean-To is on your left.
9.45 1736 ft
Rock pile and views to the south. Junction of the Dabes Diversion Trail on the left.
9.8 1587 ft
After crossing stream, cross Bleck Road (parking).
9.9 1612 ft
Junction of the blue blazed Kuzia Cutoff Trail (leads 0.7 mile to Hauck Hill Rd).
10.0 1577 ft
Cross Cortwright Road, then descend steep bank to cross creek (warning creek not safe to cross in times of high water).
10.8 1673 ft
"Four Corners". Cross old road. Junctions of the Dabes Diversion Loop Trail (orange blazes) on left and Virgil Mountain Loop Trail (orange blazes) on right. There is a spring along the Virgil Mountain Trail.
11.3 1692 ft
Cross stream, ascend up bank and reach O'Dell Rd. Parking. Turn right and follow road. Leaving Kennedy State Forest.
11.5 1767 ft
Trail turns right off road and re-enters Kennedy State Forest.
11.7 1799 ft
Cross small stream
12.4 1973 ft
Cross Van Donsel Road. Season road --> Limited parking.
12.5 2098 ft
12.9 1996 ft
13.3 2132 ft
Virgil Mountain summit. Highest point in Cortland County. Highest point along trail within 70 miles.
13.4 2086 ft
National Grid high power lines. Views to left. Turn right and follow power lines.
13.6 2042 ft
Junction of the orange blazed Virgil Mountain Loop Trail. The Finger Lakes/North Country Trail veers left away from power lines.
14.0 1969 ft
Begin steep descent of over 700 feet to Tone Road.
14.3 1719 ft
Pass by an old boiler.
14.9 1241 ft
Reach Tone Road. Parking. Leave Kennedy State Forest. GPS N42 29.719 W76 07.267 Trail turns left and follows Tone Road. For a continuation of the trail, see Tuller Hill State Forest.
Foxfire Lean To along the North Country Trail in Kennedy State Forest
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