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Hiking in Cortland County
North Country Trail
Finger Lakes Trail

Hoxie Gorge &
Underwood Hill


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This 11 mile section of the North Country National Scenic Trail begins off of NY 392 at the parking area for fisherman near the bridge over the Tioghnioga River. The NCT coincides with the Finger Lakes Trail during this section of the trail. This section features Hoxie Gorge State Forest, where the trail crosses three gorges and the magnificent views from the open fields on Underwood Hill. There are two good campsites along this stretch of trail that is located on state land. There is a lean to, however is owned by SUNY-Cortland and there are no access trail from the main NCT/FLT to the lean to.

Directions:  From Syracuse take I-81 south to exit 9. Turn right on US 11 north for  about 3.2 miles then turn left onto NY 392. There is a large parking area for fisherman that holds about 10 vehicles. The GPS coordinates for the parking area are N42 29.426 W76 04.479 for those who have a GPS. There is NO GOOD parking at the northern end of this section of the trail. There is some shoulder parking at the end of the Hunting Bypass Trail along Stone Road for those who are spotting cars. The GPS coordinates for the Stone Road shoulder parking is N42 33.074 W76 03.049.

From the parking area near the Tioughnioga River, cross the bridge along NY 392 and in 500 feet turn right on NY 11 south. At 0.7 miles turn left on seasonal dirt Steve Russell Hill Road and follow the road uphill under the I-81 bridge. You are now following white blazes. At 1.75 miles the trail turns left off the road. There is very limited shoulder parking for those who don't mind driving on seasonal dirt road. The GPS coordinates of the shoulder parking is N42 29.787 W76 03.464.

The trail immediately descends as you begin the first of three gorge crossings in Hoxie Gorge State Forest. At 2.2 miles you'll reach the first of two primitive campsites located along the trail in this state forest. At 2.5 miles the trail passes a small pond. After the pond you will begin the journey of crossing the second gorge. After leaving the gorge the trail briefly skirts the edge of the ravine. At 3.4 miles the trail passes a rock wall.

At 4.8 miles cross a stream during the third and final gorge crossing in Hoxie Gorge State Forest. At 6.4 miles the trail crosses Freetown-Hoxie Gorge Road. At 7.1 miles reach a blue blazed trail on your left that travels to the McDermott Nature Trail and parking off Hoxie Gorge Road. The GPS coordinates of the parking area is N42 32.870 W76 04.703 for those who have a GPS devise. The trail is now within Hoxie Gorge Nature Preserve.  The Hoxie Gorge Nature Preserve consists of 170 acres of abandoned farmland and woods. The property was purchased in 1965 by SUNY at Cortland and has been used for field studies by many classes and for research by faculty and students.

The preserve features the McDermott Nature Trail, a trail by SUNY at Cortland.  There is a bivouac area soon after the junction of the blue blazed access trail. There is no marked trail that leads from the main FLT/NCT to the Hoxie Gorge Lean To. The lean to is more popular with SUNY at Cortland students than thru hikers.  The GPS coordinates for the Hoxie Gorge Lean To is N42 32.780 W76 04.346 for those who are interested in the lean to. The trail soon leaves the preserve and returns to Hoxie Gorge State Forest. At 7.8 miles the trail leaves state land and enters PRIVATE PROPERTY. Soon there is a nice homemade bench next to a stream.

At 8.7 miles reach the junction of an orange blazed hunting bypass trail. The main trail turns left into the main open field. The trail ahead is CLOSED for hunting from October 1 to December 31. Please respect the landowners request and stay off this section of the trail during these dates. Either turn around during those dates or use the bypass trail. As you ascend Underwood Hill in an open field there are panoramic views toward the east. There is a picnic table perfectly placed to rest and enjoy the spectacular view. When you reach the edge of the field, turn left and follow the edge of the fields for a while.  The trail goes in and out of the woods and passes through a few more open fields that allow for a few more views.

This 11 mile section of the trail is a moderate hike with an overall elevation gain of over 2000 feet. Look below for a few pictures, a detailed description of this section of the trail, a map and a video featuring part of this section of trail.

Hoxie Gorge Creek

Trail traveling through an open field on Underwood Hill
Mile Elevation Trail Description (follow white blazes)
0.0 1042 feet

This section of the North Country Trail/Finger Lakes Trail starts at the parking area off NY 392 near the bridge over the Tioughnioga River. The GPS coordinates for the parking area is N42 29.426 W76 04.479. Cross the bridge.

0.1 1045 feet

Turn right onto US 11 south.

0.7 1049 feet

Turn left onto dirt seasonal road called Steve Russell Hill Road.

0.9 1124 feet Pass under I-81 then reach a junction of another dirt road on right. Veer left to continue on Russell Hill Road.
1.75 1408 feet Trail turns left off the dirt road. Descend quickly.
1.9 1335 feet Cross small stream and climb.
2.2 1512 feet Primitive campsite.
2.5 1442 feet Pond.
2.95 1214 feet Cross stream
3.1 1286 feet Walking next to the ravine.
3.4 1357 feet Rock wall to your left.
4.8 1301 feet Cross small stream. The third and final gorge that the trail travels through in Hoxie Gorge State Forest.
5.8 1726 feet Highest point of the trail in Hoxie Gorge State Forest.
6.4 1431 feet Cross Freetown Hoxie Gorge Road.
6.65 1354 feet Cross small stream.
7.1 1331 feet

Junction of the blue blazed access trail that leads to the McDermott Nature Trail and parking on Hoxie Gorge Road. Trails enter the Hoxie Gorge Bivouac Area next to stream.

7.2 1386 feet Hoxie Gorge Lean to is off to the left. There is no trail that leads to the lean to. It is frequented by SUNY-Cortland students. Main access is from the McDermott Nature Trail.
7.3 1432 feet

Cross stream.

7.8 1478 feet

Leave Hoxie Gorge State Forest, enter PRIVATE PROPERTY.

7.9 1504 feet

Homemade bench on right next to stream.

8.4 1690 feet

Trail follows edge of field.

8.5 1737 feet

View to your right at opening along edge of field.

8.7 1781 feet

Orange blazed hunting bypass trail on your right that leads 0.2 mile to Stone Road.  Trail turns left.  This section of trail is CLOSED during hunting season from 10/1 - 12/31.

8.8 1787 feet

Views open as you walk in the open field.

8.9 1799 feet

Picnic Table and the best panoramic views from Underwood Hill.

9.0 1763 feet

Trail turns left and follows edge of field.

9.3 1783 feet

Enter woods and turn right.

9.4 1779 feet

Leave woods, trail turns left.  Views as you descend through open field.

9.55 1781 feet

Trail turns right.

9.75 1755 feet

Trail turns left and descends.

9.85 1699 feet

Trail crosses small stream/culvert.

9.95 1732 feet

Trail veers left.

10.25 1738 feet

Trail crosses open area, view on your left.

10.7 1832feet

Trail register.  Highest point along trail in this section. Trail descends. Soon one last view.

11.0 1656 feet

Reach Underwood Hill Road and end of this section. NO GOOD PARKING HERE! From here there is a long road walk for thru hikers. For a continuation of the off road section of trail see Baker School House State Forest section of the trail.  End of section closed for hunting.

Hoxie Gorge Lean To


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