Date: 5/14/19 1:29 pm
From: Christopher T. Tessaglia-Hymes <cth4...>
Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Hawthorn Orchard Trails Info and Map
Good afternoon, birders!

I was having an offline conversation about the Hawthorn Orchard trails, descriptions, the desire for a map, etc. and thought it would be helpful to share the following trail descriptions and “map” of the Hawthorn Orchard with the greater birding community.

First, a note on parking. Park in the right rear dirt trailer parking lot of the Oxley Equestrian Center (220 Pine Tree Road, Ithaca, NY). You may also continue along the dirt road at the right rear corner of the Oxley Equestrian Center trailer parking lot and park near the corner of the outdoor tennis courts. Parking in the main Reis Tennis Center parking lot is discouraged.

Link to the map and more completed trail color descriptions are below. Please note, there are no trail or color markings within the actual Hawthorn Orchard.

I think it’s important to understand the geography when visiting. The main Hawthorn Orchard is a large, roughly 13-acre, rectangular parcel, running lengthwise in a North-South direction. There’s the steep ravine as the North boundary, an old horse pasture as the South boundary, a large soccer/rugby/intramural sports ball field and the Reis Tennis Center as the East boundary, and the East Ithaca Recreation Way as the West boundary. The Hawthorn Orchard land slopes in an overall Southwest direction.

It’s easy to get disoriented in there, but you cannot get lost. You can use your hearing to identify where you are within the Hawthorn Orchard. Listen for trail walkers along the East Ithaca Recreation Way. Listen for people playing tennis at the outdoor tennis courts. Listen for the road noise from Mitchell Street traffic just beyond the North Ravine. I often forget to mention that I use these helpful auditory cues to keep myself oriented when birding over there.

As for trails and entrances, there is a well defined East-West trail (Map: teal colored trail) that connects the Northwest corner clearing, by the East Ithaca Recreation Way in view of the Black Oak Lane Townhouses, to the Northeast corner where there are a couple of defined entrances.

One of the Northeast corner defined entrances is just Northwest of a small equipment shed on the North side of the ball field located behind and on the West side of the Reis Tennis Center outdoor tennis courts. The other Northeast corner entrance is located to the Northeast of and just beyond the previously mentioned shed, and is adjacent to the outfield boundary fence of the softball field (located on the North side of the Reis Tennis Center). This latter entrance (Map: orange colored trail) brings you into a very open maple forest that slopes down into the North-side ravine. The trail here follows along the uphill side of the ravine and connects near the previously-mentioned Northeast entrance area (Map: teal colored trail).

There is another trail one can navigate (Map: red colored trail) which runs from the Northeast entrance (to the Northwest of the shed) along an inside track all the way along the Easternmost edge of the Hawthorn Orchard, that brings you out to the very Southeast entrance. There’s also the various wide passages along the Southern interior section of the Hawthorn Orchard (Map: purple colored trail); those were previously used by equestrians years ago, but are no longer maintained for that purpose. Those wide paths meander along the Southern section and bring you from the Southeast corner to the Southwest corner.

Some historical aerial images may be accessed by visiting this link here:

The latter historical aerial image was taken in 2006 for me by Bill Hecht. I’ve used that flyover image to create a PDF map with color-indicated trails for descriptive purposes. Again, please note, there are no trail or color markings within the actual Hawthorn Orchard.

The trail map PDF may be accessed by visiting this link here:

* The teal colored trail is the main East-West trail near and along the North ravine edge.
* The orange colored trail is the one that goes into the open section of maples closest to the softball field and connects to the teal colored trail.
* The red colored trail is the main North-South trail along the Easternmost edge of the Hawthorn Orchard.
* The purple colored trail is the one that meanders along the old equestrian trails on the South side of the Hawthorn Orchard.
* The white colored trails are purely deer paths. Only navigate if you feel confident or adventurous.
* The gray colored trail is a poorly-defined deer path as well, but is nice to poke along for warblers and especially for Yellow-bellied Flycatcher in late May and early June.

A final reminder that it is often extremely muddy here. Wear muck boots and be prepared to get wet and muddy, especially following recent rainfall.

Hope these resources are useful for birders visiting the Hawthorn Orchard for the first time, or if you’ve been there multiple times before!

Good birding!

Chris T-H

Chris Tessaglia-Hymes
PO Box 488
8 Etna Lane
Etna, NY 13062


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