Photo: Matt Champlin

Land Trust Partnership Links Two Nature Preserves Overlooking Skaneateles Lake

The Land Trust completed a new hiking trail connecting the organization’s Hinchcliff Family Preserve with the Central New York Land Trust’s (CNYLT) Ripley Hill Nature Preserve.  Staff and volunteers from both groups collaborated on the design and construction of the trail which stretches ¾ of a mile through the Hinchcliff Preserve to the Ripley Hill Preserve in Spafford, Onondaga County.

Visitors to the Hinchcliff Family Preserve can now walk up Covey Rd., a short seasonal road next to the preserve, carefully cross State Rte. 41, and hike to the best view of Skaneateles Lake. Beyond the vista point, the trail guides hikers through diverse forests and wetlands on the Ripley Hill Preserve. Here, the trail stretches for another ¼ of a mile through the preserve to Ripley Hill Rd. Protected through a partnership between the FLLT and CNYLT, the Ripley Hill Preserve contains the highest point in the Skaneateles Lake watershed and is the third highest point in Onondaga County at 1,968 feet.

FLLT Board Member Dave Birchenough, CNYLT President & CEO Albert Joerger, and FLLT Executive Director Andy Zepp at the connector trailhead off of Route 41.

The 206-acre Hinchcliff Family Preserve is a key part of a growing greenbelt of preserved land around the southern end of Skaneateles Lake. Land protection here and throughout the watershed is vitally important because the lake serves as the source of drinking water for the city of Syracuse and several other communities.

Visitors to the new trail should be aware that while hunting is prohibited next to to the Ripley Hill Trail, hunting does take place on adjacent private land. Consequently, hikers are encouraged to wear brightly colored clothing during hunting season. In addition, the remainder of the Hinchcliff Family Preserve is only open for hiking on Sundays and Mondays during the gun hunting season, from November 16 to December 17, and closed to hiking on other days while deer hunting is taking place.