EAST ITHACA RECREATION WAY:
SOUTH HILL RECREATION WAY:
ITHACA, NEW YORK
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: August 6, 2013
Length: East Ithaca Recreation Way; 2.4 miles.
South Hill Recreation Way; Upper Rail Trail: 2.3 miles. Lower Rail Trail (including Connecting Trail): 1.1 miles. Loop: 5.7 miles.
Pew Trail; 1.3 miles.
Difficulty: East Ithaca Recreation Way; Easy. Flat paved rail trail with one steep hill.
South Hill Recreation Way; Upper Rail Trail: Easy. Wide, crushed gravel/stone-dust rail trail.
Lower Rail Trail: Moderate. Wide, crushed gravel rail trail. Slight incline with a steep connecting path to the Upper Rail Trail.
Pew Trail; Moderate. Paved trail. One section flat, the other travels up a steep hill.
East Ithaca Recreation Way: Starting from Game Farm Road; From the junction of Routes 13, 34 & 79 in Ithaca travel east on Route 79 for a mile. Turn left on Route 366 (Mitchell St-Ithaca Rd-Dryden Rd) and follow for 2.1 miles. Turn right on Game Farm Rd and travel 0.7 miles to parking lot on your right.
South Hill Recreation Way: Starting from Burns Road; From the junction of Routes 13, 34 & 79 in Ithaca travel east on Route 79 for 3.7 miles. Turn right on Burns Rd and travel less then a mile where you'll find some off road parking along your right.
The East Ithaca & South Hill Recreation Ways are built along former rail beds. The South Hill Recreation Way rail bed was first constructed in 1834 by the Ithaca & Owego RR, using horsepower to tow rail cars up the steep grades, and was the second railroad chartered in New York State. In 1843 it became the Cayuga & Susquehanna RR until 1855 when it was purchased by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western RR and operated until 1956. By means of a zigzag or switchback, it reached the top of South Hill. The switchback line was turned into the South Hill Recreation Way in the 1980s. The middle part of the switchback is missing, though, substituting a steep connector between the upper and lower portions. See; ITHACA's RR's for more information. Future plans call for extending the trail east from Burns Rd. The East Ithaca Recreation Way on East Hill is primarily built upon the rail bed of the old Ithaca & Cortland RR, which later became part of the Lehigh Valley RR.
EAST ITHACA RECREATION WAY:
Starting from Game Farm Road; Map board located here. Markers every 1/2 mile. The paved East Ithaca Recreation Way heads into the woods along the East-West Rail Trail with a stone-dust jogging path alongside. Catch a glimpse of Cascadilla Creek which parallels the trail on your left at 0.4 miles. Cross a bridge over the creek followed by another over Pine Tree Rd before coming to the end of the rail trail at 1.1 miles. Heading left the paved trail travels up a steep hill to Maple Ave at 1 1/4 miles. Turn right and follow the narrow, paved trail alongside Maple Ave, past the greenhouses of Cornell University. When you come alongside a parking lot on your right at 1.5 miles look left to pick up the trail across the road. Caution; No Crosswalk. Here you'll rejoin the flat, wide, paved North-South Rail Trail as it travels through a residential corridor. Cross Mitchell St at 1.8 miles and travel around the building to rejoin the rail trail. This section is less urban. Come to a trail on your left at 2.1 miles.
Note; This trail leads to the Oxley Equestrian Center and Pine Tree Rd.
After 2.4 miles the rail trail ends at Honness Lane.
Note; To connect to the Pew Trail turn left and follow the paved trail up and alongside Honness Lane to Pine Tree Rd at 2.6 miles. Utilize the cross-walk to reach the Pew Trail. From here you have two options:
Option 1; Easy loop back to the East-West Rail Trail. Head left along the Pew Trail (wide sidewalk alongside Pine Tree Rd). Cross Snyder Hill Rd where the Pew Trail widens and is paved. Pass by a cross-walk over to the Oxley Equestrian Center at 0.3 miles. Find a map board here. Cross-walk over Ellis Hollow Rd to a narrow paved trail at 0.5 miles. Head left where the trail again continues alongside Pine Tree Rd. After 0.8 miles you'll need to cross over to Maple Ave. Here a paved trail travels up a small hill where you'll return to the East-West Rail Trail after a mile.
Option 2; Difficult loop back to the Games Farm parking lot. Continue straight along the Pew Trail. I didn't check out this section. This paved trail travels 0.8 miles up hill through a partially shaded corridor to Park Lane. Continue straight on-road up Tudor Rd (residential). Turn left up Sharlene Dr to Snyder Hill Rd. Here the hill tops out after a mile. Head left then right along Hungerford Hill Rd. Nice views of Ithaca Valley and Cayuga Lake. Steep drop off down to Ellis Hollow Rd at 1.8 miles. Turn right and travel on-road to Game Farm Rd on your left. Follow game Farm Rd back down to the parking lot at 2.7 miles.
SOUTH HILL RECREATION WAY:
Starting from Burns Road; A steep paved path takes you down to the Upper Rail Trail where you'll find a map board and informational signs. This heavily forested crushed gravel trail travels alongside a ridgeline with some steep drop offs. Very scenic. Gorge-like. Markers every 1/2 mile. Trail turns to stone-dust after 1.5 miles and becomes more open. Pass by another map board and Vincenzo Iacovelli Park at 1.7 miles.
Note; The paved Connecting Trail to your right leads down to the parallel Lower Rail Trail.
The trail now travels along a more residential corridor. Pass a map board and come to Hudson St at 2.3 miles. This is the end of the Upper Trail.
Note; To reach the Lower Rail Trail and loop back to the Upper Rail Trail turn right and travel on-road (sidewalk available) down hill along Hudson St. Pick up the Lower Rail Trail at 2.8 miles on your right. Sign.
Map Board located here. The wide crushed gravel Lower Rail Trail travels slightly up hill along the ridgeline. After 3.6 miles you reach the Connecting Trail. This paved trail zigzags up past the playground and picnic pavilion at Vincenzo Iacovelli Park before returning you to the Upper Rail Trail at 3.9 miles. Head left to loop back to Burns Road for an 5.7 mile loop.
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