Feel Great

Top 10 places to hike within an hour from Syracuse

By Kat Kondracki

1. Green Lakes State Park — Gratify outdoor desires with 10 miles of upland forest trails surrounding two of upstate New York’s glacial lakes. Both Green and Round lakes are meromictic lakes, meaning there is no surface and bottom season mixing, providing breathtaking views and home to many ancient plant and animal species.

2. Tinker Falls — Travel 20 miles southeast of Syracuse to hike near an 80’ tall waterfall. Best known for its winter ice-covered rocks, this fall provides adventure seekers with a semi-challenging hike. Jitka Sinecka, Ph.D. student in disability studies and Syracuse University Outing Club leadership chair, says hikers can walk behind the U-shaped waterfall and look through it.

3. Clark’s Reservation — This state park New York Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation describes as “a geologic wonder of the last ice age and a botanist’s paradise” offers hikers five trails, including a 175-foot cliff trail towering over water. This rocky outdoor trail includes a glacial plunge basin lake and is located only 20 minutes from campus.

4. Chittenango Falls State Park — The glacial-formed bedrock creating the 167-foot waterfall makes for a scenic hike and thigh-sculpting hike.

5. Highland Forest — With more than 20 miles of trails, this park offers a self-guided nature trail that is ideal for beginner hikers. Make a pit-stop at Highland Forest’s Skyline Lodge and appreciate the view.

6. Onondaga Trail — Maintained by the Onondaga chapter of the Adirondack Mountain club, this trail is part of the Finger Lakes Trail and is well-marked making it easily-accessible for less-experienced hikers.

7. Ithaca Gorges — Ithaca offers outdoor enthusiasts difficult hikes and beautiful sights. Sinecka describes these deep gorges as “a scene from Lord of the Rings.” Take the Taughannock Falls Gorge Tour and become awestruck by Taughannock Falls, which towers three stories higher than Niagara Falls.

8. Baltimore Woods — Located in Marcellus, this trail offers three miles of relatively flat hiking, perfect for apprehensive or less physically fit hikers.

9. Pratt’s Falls Park — Picturesque trails lead up Pratt’s Fall, a 137-foot waterfall formed by glaciers.

10. Beaver Lake Nature Center — Beaver Lake’s 600 acres of land offer nine miles of hiking split into seven different well-marked trails.

This post originally printed in What the Health’s Spring 2008 issue.