Archive for the 'New York' Category

Oakley Corners State Forest (Owego, NY)

oakley corners pond

oakley corners pond

Oakley Corners State Forest is clearly a well-used recreation area. It’s very near to the Greater Binghamton population center, access is easy, and there’s much to recommend it.

Oakley Corners Pond is a significant attraction on the land. Despite its relatively small size, the DEC apparently stocks the pond with those vicious tiger fish (Tiger Muskellunge). I didn’t see any of them, but I could see a lot of bluegill and other baitfish in among the plants along the shore. The water is fairly clear, though it’s pretty weedy. The most troublesome aspect of the pond, for me, is that it is crowded with debris. If you look closely at the picture above, you can make out the remains of long dead trees along the bank. The remnants of an entire forest lie submerged in the water.  I suppose that they make good fish habitat, but they also  present something of an eyesore. I wouldn’t recommend taking a soft-sided kayak or canoe in this shallow and prickly pond.

trail in the northern section of oakley corners

trail in the northern section of oakley corners

trail in the southern section of oakley corners

trail in the southern section of oakley corners

There are wide, well-maintained, and well-marked trails throughout the property. People do ride mountain bikes on the land, and most of the trails are well suited to that activity. Camping is evidently popular as well. As I made my way along the trails on the western and southern sides of Oakley Corners Pond, I stumbled across at least a half-dozen campsites. These sites are simply flat, clear areas, each with a fire ring made from stones. I’m not sure whether they were planned, or whether they evolved organically through continual use, but they are quite adequate tent sites. Target shooting is not allowed in this forest, unlike most state forests in New York, and so you won’t trip over too many spent shotgun shells. Hunting is allowed, so remember your blaze orange in the fall, for sure.

camp site on the western shore of oakley corners pond

camp site on the western shore of oakley corners pond

The southern section of the state forest, the area with the ponds, is not particularly far from occupied houses, and you can sometimes hear the people. Other than that, it provides a nice retreat from the nearby cities. The northern section, away from the water, will bring you more nearly Into the Forest. A visit to either end is likely to make for a pleasant afternoon.

 

Links:

Google Map: Oakley Corners State Forest
NY DEC: Oakley Corners State Forest
NY DEC: Oakley Corners Pond

Otsiningo Park (Dickinson, NY)

Otsiningo Park Pond

otsiningo park pond

Otsiningo Park is under the administration of Broome County Parks and Recreation, and located near downtown Binghamton. It is an interesting mix of what one might expect to find in an urban green space, and what you might more likely find in a bigger state park or forest.

The park is well known in the area as the host of the annual Spiede Fest and Balloon Rally (see link below), as well as many other summer events which can be fun but are hardly peaceful. Otsiningo naturally has the facilities (public restrooms, fountains, picnic tables with grills, etc.) necessary to support large events and most casual use, and it is a comfortable place for a picnic or soccer game.

chenango river

chenango river

If you want feel farther afield from the city, as I generally do, there are about 3.5 miles of trails on which you might walk, run, or bike. The trails, four in all, stretch the length of the park along the Chenango River. The northernmost section of trail sees less traffic than the rest of the place, and offers the best chance of peace and quiet. There are are several side-trails which allow river access for fishing. People have also been known to drop a kayak in the river somewhere on Route 12a, and pull out at Otsiningo after a leisurely drift downstream.

There is abundant, and unwary, wildlife in the park. They’ve got piles and piles of Canadian geese there, and it’s not uncommon to see a cottontail rabbit munching weeds around the edges of the open spaces (link to video). The last time that I was there, I was walking along the river bank and saw fresh deer tracks in the mud. I’m not quite sure that I was supposed to be down there. I do go off the path at times but I suppose that’s beside the point. That you should always watch where you’re going in the park is very much to the point, since the geese are as large as dogs, and somewhat less disciplined.

kid looking at rabbit

kid looking at rabbit

If you can’t quite get Into the Forest, and some days we just can’t, the next best thing is probably a quick hurdle through the geese at Otsiningo, and jog in among the trees along the Chenango.

Links:

Google Map: Otsiningo Park
Broome County: Otsiningo Park
Facebook: Otsiningo Park
Spiede Fest: Event Information

Nanticoke Lake MUA (Lisle, NY)

Nanticoke Lake - southern entry point

southern entry point

The Nanticoke Lake Multiple Use Area (MUA) is not difficult to access, although you do have to head down some dirt roads in the Town of Lisle (see links below for directions). The parking area is about 1/4 mile from the lake itself. There is a gravel road to take you most of the way in, but vehicles are blocked by a gate near the unpaved lot. This seems to limit the number of people who turn up on any given day. I have only been there a couple of times, myself, but never saw more than one other group of people there at a time. The most common visitors seem to be local people who fish for pumpkinseed and smallmouth bass from the banks on the southern side of the lake. The south side opens to a field, and is easy to approach. The last time I was there I could see a dozen sunfish, hovering over their territories in the shallow water near the southern bank.

Nanticoke Lake - north end

north end

The water is actually clear in this lake, unlike most of the lakes I’ve seen in New York. The DEC page notes that there is a lack of aquatic vegetation, by which they must mean that the lake is not choked with weeds and muck like every other lake around. I have come to understand that New York fisherman prefer eutrophic conditions (see Dr. Robert Carlson’s web site) because they allow a lake to produce more fish. I, on the other hand, was appreciative of the relatively clear water in this MUA, which reminded me of a typical lake in Maine.

There is no path to the north side of the lake, as far as I know. Canoes and kayaks are permitted, however, and it’s worth it to haul one in if you can. You can very quickly paddle out of earshot of whoever might be on the southern bank, and pretty much have the lake to yourself. You don’t have to be too tricky to catch a couple of bass on the north end either, since they don’t seem to get many visitors.

Nanticoke Lake - view from north to south

view from north to south

All things considered, Nanticoke Lake MUA is a very good  place to get away from whatever you might be dodging. It’s large enough to be interesting, small enough to be manageable, and quiet enough that you may feel you’ve made your way Into the Forest.

 

 

Links:

Google Map: Nanticoke Lake MUA
NY DEC: Nanticoke Lake Multiple Use Area (map available)
NY DEC: Nanticoke Lake fishing information.
TBA Farms: Blog Post on the annual stocking of the lake.