Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A fall ride in the Finger Lakes

You don't get many sunny, warm weekends in Upstate, New York, in mid October, at least not high 70's warm. So we just couldn't let the awesome weather pass but without doing some riding. The big question was where to go.

We always try to pick a new destination that we haven't been to yet and I must say they are getting harder and harder to find within a few hours drive.

We finally settled on Filmore Glen State Park. Filmore Glen is located south of Auburn off of Rt 38 South. It features a hiking trail along a narrow glen lined with high shale walls carved for century's by the steady flow of water over the five waterfalls along the trail.

It looked like as good a place as any so we headed out. It was a beautiful fall day the temperature when we left was in the mid 60's so we donned our leather jackets for the 2 hour ride out.

We headed out of the city and on to the back roads heading south east. We could have taken the Thruway and cut the trip in half, but that would just take all the fun out of it.

As we got closer to Auburn the colors on the trees became more brilliant and the ride down Rt 38 was absolutely gorgeous with spectacular shades of red, orange, yellow and gold painting the hillsides along the east side of Owasco Lake. Owasco Lake is the 6th largest of the Finger Lakes of New York State and is 11 miles long and 177ft deep at it's deepest. The lake sinks into the surrounding hills vibrant with the fall colors making it a perfectly gorgeous view from the back of our Goldwing.

We finally entered the park about 2 hours after we left the house. Not a bad ride. The weather had warmed considerably now so we ditched the leather jackets, grabbed some water and headed out for the gorge.

As you head to the trail head you pass the natural stone swimming pool which I imagine is very refreshing in the summer since it's fed by the mountain stream but it was closed for the season and pretty much empty this time of year, although Jeff just had to check out the view from the lifegard chair, I just know he was dying to dive in from their, luckily there was no water!

We made our way the the beginning of the gorge trail and right at the start is large set of very uneven steps leading nearly straight up! I don't know how many steps there are but there are more than it looks! We started up the steps and about 1/2 way we had to take a break, now I'm not in the best of shape (living a sedentary lifestyle will do that to you!) but gimme a break! As we sat there gasping for air, these 2 really annoying teenage girls in their cute little shorts came JOGGING up the steps past us, snickering as they ran by. "Yea, laugh now," I thought to myself, "come back in 20 years and lets see you run up these stairs...darn kids!"

More and more people wandered past us so we decided we better get moving before they called an ambulance for us. After catching our breath, we continued to the top and stopped to gasp for air again, I began to rethink this whole "hey let's go hiking in the gorge plan" I mean really it was Sunday afternoon in October, and even if the Bills weren't playing there had to be a football game on somewhere right? The couch and remote were looking pretty good right about now!

Ok, enough lolly gagging time to hit the trail. From here on out the walk wasn't bad at all some up some down but nothing too drastic, at least until the end, but we'll get to that later.

Once in the gorge the scenery is really awesome. The shaded path is cool and damp with sunlight filtering through the trees in spots along the way. The path is narrow in spots and there 8 bridged that criss cross their way along the gorge. There is a steady flow of water meandering lazily over the rocks and leaves at times falling several feet to create waterfalls of various heights.

In all the walk along the gorge is a fairly easy one with plenty to take in along the way. At the end of the path you have a couple of options, you can head back the way you came or head out the South Rim Trail. We opted to head out the South Rim Trail because it was a little shorter and besides we'd already seen where we've just been.

Once again, we choose poorly because the south trail heads UPHILL, way up hill, no steps this time just the side of a mountain. I haven't had this much exercise in 20 years and I gotta say I wasn't missing it! After stopping several times on the way up we finally made it. I took a look around and breathed a sign of relief that we appeared to be at the highest point so there was no where to go but down, thankfully, anymore steps or uphill climbs and I was gonna scream.

We made our way down the path and to the parking lot where the bike was. There was one more thing to see and that was the dam, but we decided we'd had enough walking for one day so we jumped on the bike for the ride up. The road to the water fall is paved, well was at one time, apparently they aren't big on upkeep because most of the ride up we zig zagged from one side of the road to the other avoiding crater sized potholes, the occasional on coming car and pedestrians. There was a couple on a Harley headed towards us performing the same "pothole dance" as we were, we exchanged knowing smiles, and continued on our way. It was quite the ride but we made it to the top. We parked the bike and headed down the short trail to a beautiful scene.

On one side of the dam was a pristine, crystal clear lake reflecting the brilliant fall colors with mirror like clarity. You can walk out onto the dam and get a great view of the waterfall. Be careful walking on the dam as there are railings only on one side so falling in the lake is definitely an option if you are not careful.

Ok, we'd had enough nature for one day so we headed back to the bike and, well yea you guessed it...the path was uphill all the way!

On the way out of the park we decided to head up the east side of Owasco Lake to get the view from the other side so we headed up 38 North to Rockefeller Road a nice route that gently winds it's way through the are farmland and provides some great views of Owasco Lake. It was a fun little road with very little traffic and make for a fun ride back to Auburn.

Once in Auburn we headed west on Rt 5&20 and wandered home. In all it was a perfect fall day, great scenery, comfortable temperatures and some nice roads. You can't ask for much more than that.

Until next time, ride save and more importantly have fun!