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Hiking in Cortland County
Finger Lakes Trail System
Thanks to the hard work of dedicated volunteers from the FLTC, the area in and around Kennedy State Forest is quickly becoming a hiking hot spot with over twenty miles of trails to explore. What makes the area popular with hikers are the numerous loop hikes available in one location.
The one mile Irish Loop Trail, completed in June 2012, is located completely on private property off Babcock Hollow Road. The Irish Loop Trail is blazed green (of course). This trail is part of the "International Trail Series" that were created in this area. The other "International Trails" include the Lithuanian Loop Trail, Spanish Loop Trail and Swedish Loop Trail.
The yellow blazed Lithuanian Loop Trail, Irish Loop Trail and the white blazed FLT/NCT can be used to create the loop hike of your choice. You'll also find the orange blazed 0.15 mile Brennan Bypass Trail in this area, that can also be utilized to create your loop hike.
The area also offers hikers that are looking for loop hikes, the Irvin Loop Trail, Dabes Diversion Loop, Virgil Mountain Loop and Finger Lakes Trail/North Country Trail, all located in and around Kennedy State Forest near Dryden, NY.
The Irish Loop Trail is an interior trail, meaning you will need to walk along another trail to reach the trail. The most popular way to reach the Irish Trail is from the Babcock Hollow Road parking area via the western section of the Lithuanian Loop Trail.
From the parking area turn right onto the western section of the yellow blazed Lithuanian Loop Trail. In 0.2 miles you'll reach a crossing of green blazed Irish Loop Trail. To create a counterclockwise loop, turn right onto the Irish Loop Trail. In 0.2 miles reach a triple green blaze of the Irish Loop Trail (end) and the junction of the white blazed Finger Lakes Trail / North Country Trail. Turn left and head uphill following the white blazes.
In 0.1 miles reach the junction of the yellow blazed Lithuanian Loop Trail (western section). Continue straight following the white/yellow blazes. In 0.1 mile turn left on the yellow blazed Lithuanian Loop Trail (eastern section) and soon reach a trail register. Here is the other start/end of the green blazed Irish Loop Trail.
Turn right onto the green blazed Irish Loop Trail. The trail slowly ascends Brennan Hill, cresting the 1855 foot hill in 0.3 miles. At 0.4 miles reach the junction of the orange blazed Brennan Bypass Trail on the left. The Brennan Bypass Trail travels 0.15 miles to the Lithuanian Loop Trail.
As the Irish Loop Trail descends Brennan Hill, be sure to watch the green blazes as the trail follows and leaves old woods roads, which can easily be missed. At 0.6 miles (from the trail register), cross an old woods road, which is also the yellow blazed Lithuanian Loop Trail (eastern section). At 0.8 miles (from register), reach the western section of the Lithuanian Loop Trail.
Here turn right to return to the parking area and the end of this loop hike. The total of this loop hike is 1.6 miles. You can create your own loops for longer or shorter distances. This hike features a nice young forest along well maintained hiking trails. Look below for a few pictures and maps of this hike.
Directions: From I-81 exit 11 take NY 13 south into Cortland. Follow NY 13, then take a left on NY 215. Take NY 215 into Virgil and go straight at 4-way stop sign onto NY 392 west. Soon turn left on Owego Hill Road. Turn left onto Babcock Hollow Road at stop sign. The parking area is about two miles on the right (remember that this is a school bus turnaround, so make space for the buses). There are posted signs, but the parking area is public.
The GPS coordinates for the parking area is N42 28.442 W76 11.543 for those who have a gps devise in their vehicle.
Parking area off Babcock Hollow Road
Triple blaze marks end of Irish Loop Trail at the FLT/NCT junction
Trail register at the official start of the Irish Loop Trail
Irish Loop Trail crossing a carpet of ferns near Brennan Hill
|Lithuanian Loop Trail||Spanish Loop Trail|
|Dabes Diversion Loops||Swedish Loop Trail|
|Virgil Mountain Loop||FLT/NCT in Kennedy State Forest|