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Discussion: Hammond Hill

in: Lori; Lori > 2021-01-21

Jan 23, 2021 3:06 AM # 
Yes, lots of snow out here. And more fell last night and today. Skiing this weekend should be quite good. The higher hills are several degrees colder than in town and hold snow much longer.
Jan 24, 2021 2:24 PM # 
Excellent! We are going to head out there today! Thanks!
Jan 25, 2021 1:32 AM # 
It continued to snow most of the day Saturday and more Saturday night. And looks like more in the forecast for Tuesday. I was out of town for a biathlon race today but I assume the conditions were good. Many people ski at HH so the trails get packed down quickly. I'm curious where you found difficulty levels assigned to the trails. I've never seen that before and yes, they're all roughly the same. The best true guide to "difficulty" would a map with coutours. Also there are a few spots that tend to wash out when it rains, the most notorious of which is the upper section of Y1 going up the hill from the parking lot.
Jan 28, 2021 1:58 AM # 
Yeah, the conditions were quite good. Someone even was going out on skate skis as we were getting back to the car, but that seemed highly optimistic...

The map on the DEC website has the trail difficulties:

I don't suppose you have any suggestions for places we might be able to skate ski with Presto? We've heard the snowmobile trails at Connecticut Hill might be an option. The snowmobile trails at Hammond Hill didn't quite look packed down enough today to be fun to skate on.
Jan 28, 2021 4:34 AM # 
hmm, skate skiing with a dog is a tough one. Most reliable answer would be at Winona Forest, which is about 2 hours drive north. The club up there grooms trails for skiers, snowmobilers, snow bikers, and mushers. Plus that area usually gets a lot more snow than down here due to lake effect off of Lake Ontario. They also host races of various types so you might want to check their calendar first if you don't want to show up on a really busy day.

For a more local answer your best bet is going to be the grooming done by the snowmobile clubs which is hard to predict. Their groomers tend to just appear at seemingly random times. Connecticut Hill is usually the most reliable but word is a) still not much snow up there yet, and b) there are some ongoing logging projects that are causing some normally unplowed roads there to get plowed this winter.

There is also occasional snowmobile grooming done at Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn but I haven't heard of or seen them come through yet this year. Seems like we should have enough snow now for them to start though. When they do groom you'll see their tracks next to Hammond Hill Road as you drive in to the parking lot, and then they continue on down the unplowed road beyond there. If you start skating from there it's a short drop and then a long uphill climb to the top of the hill. When it's groomed it's possible to do a large loop over to Caanan Road and then back to the parking by coming back downhill on Y1. If you attempt this you'll want to double-check that Caanan Road is in fact groomed before dropping down to it on skate skis. I've occasionally seen one road groomed and the other not.

I should mention one other little detail. As good as the skiing can sometimes be on the groomed roads, and no matter how deep the snow, once the snowmobiles start racing up and down they always manage to brings rocks up to the surface. So I never take a pair of skis out on those roads that I can't live with adding some new scratches to.
Jan 28, 2021 1:12 PM # 
Thanks for the info! Seems like we're actually getting snow in Ithaca this week, so maybe there will start to be some groomed trails nearby! We don't currently own skate skis because we always just went to a cross-country ski place and rented in California when we wanted to skate, but it doesn't look like that's going to be an option around here. We're debating whether there will be enough skating opportunities to warrant acquiring some. We certainly don't mind driving 2 hours occasionally, but it's not going to be an every weekend-type thing. It's good to know that there is at least the possibility of skating nearby! Thanks!
Jan 28, 2021 4:20 PM # 
Do the commercial ski centers in CA allow Presto's on their trails? There used to be one at Tug Hill that did but it went out of business several years ago. I can't think of any others in the state that do. Winona Forest isn't commercial so there's no pet restrictions but I should mention that they get a LOT of snowmobilers on their groomed roads. And their ski trails are generally groomed for classic so you might have to stick to the roads for skating and just watch out for the snowmobiles.

There is maybe one other possibility. There's a guy on Mt. Pleasant who grooms trails on his property for skating when he has snow. (Lower elevation so less reliable than Hammond Hill.) He's quite open to sharing his trails but I'm not sure what his policy is on visitor dogs.

I should also drop it in here that now that there's snow the NY distanced ski-o schedule is finally getting started, in case you have any interest. The best links for knowing what's going on with ski-o are here:
Jan 28, 2021 7:30 PM # 
It's a bit of a drive from Ithaca, but the Rochester-area parks (Harriet Hollister, Mendon Ponds, Durand Eastman) are groomed for both skate and classic. Leashed dogs are allowed at HH and MP (and I assume Durand, though it is a golf course, so maybe there are different rules) though there are people that will grumble. Right now skiing is excellent at HH. If you join the Rochester XC Ski Foundation (RXCSF) as a supporter you can get access to conditions updates and the groomer reports at (as well as fund the grooming) - the base level is only $15 and gets you access for the winter season. There's also an RXCSF Facebook page which I think is open to anyone, and people sometimes post info about conditions there.

ROC is also getting their ski-o season going, using a sol-o format where courses are available for several weeks (or more) and you print out a map and go when you want. See the ROC website for more info:
Jan 30, 2021 1:39 AM # 
Thanks! Sounds like it might be worth getting some cheap skate skis and skiing when and where we can. We're definitely excited to check out the Rochester parks and Winona. Hopefully there will start being some grooming at Hammond Hill because not driving a long way would be great :-). In the meantime, we're quite happy exploring the various options for classic skiing!

A lot of the commercial ski centers in CA have a loop that allows dogs with some date restrictions. We'd sometimes go to one of the ski centers around Lake Tahoe with a 10-15km dog loop, and then trade off skiing all together or one of us with Presto while the other person skied some of the other trails, which worked pretty well. Some of the smaller places in New Hampshire and Vermont allow dogs on all their trails, which was super nice back when I lived in Boston.

Thanks for all the info on the ski-o season! I'm not sure we're going to be able to make it the 3 hours to the EMPO event this weekend, but we're definitely excited to do some ski-O at some point. The ski-O course looks like a good way to check out Harriet Hollister! Is Cummings Nature Center good for skating or just classic?
Jan 30, 2021 2:22 AM # 
Many of the trails at Cumming are fairly narrow so it is more like ski-o skiing. Most are adequate for skating if you are used to not overly wide trails and can avoid catching tips in the snow but a few are too narrow for anything other than double pole or marathon skate if there's track set. While they don't seem to specify one way or the other, my impression is that it is largely a classic clientele so I haven't really skied there outside of ski-o.
Jan 31, 2021 3:26 PM # 
Sounds like if we go there we probably need to have both types of skis in the car. (Once having skate skis in the car is an option...) Thanks!
Feb 5, 2021 4:31 PM # 
Yes, the Rochester club's efforts at getting trails groomed for skiing is impressive. Whenever someone broaches the subject of doing something similar here they get shouted down by people who think skiing is all about stomping through 2-foot drifts and how dare you ruin my wilderness experience. (They also don't seem to be able to progress beyond 3-pin bindings.) Driving time to Rochester parks is similar to Tug Hill/Winona area. Traditionally Tug Hill gets far more snow but in any given year you never really know. We drove to Rochester area every winter weekend for several years when our kids were young so they could ski with the wildly successful youth ski program there.

Back to Hammond Hill, 2 things of note: 1) The snowmobile club trail groomers did their thing yesterday and the unplowed roads are now groomed. If you want to try a less hilly option first, they also groomed Signal Tower Road which is pretty flat and a short distance away in Yellow Barn SF. 2) There is a snowshoe race at Hammond Hill Saturday morning starting from the parking lot that will use some of the multi-use trails.
Feb 6, 2021 1:00 AM # 
Thanks for the heads up on Hammond Hill! We've ordered skate skis, but they haven't actually arrived yet. We're excited to ski either around here or at one of the parks where they groom for skating once the skis get here :-).

I think we're going to check out Connecticut Hill tomorrow while there's so much snow on the ground. Is the parking at the intersection of Tower Road and Connecticut Hill Rd the best place to start?
Feb 6, 2021 1:33 AM # 
That's where I've always parked when skiing there. I understand there are some logging projects underway and that part of Connecticut Hill Rd has been plowed, but also from someone who was there this morning that there was still enough snow to ski on it. Also that some of the unplowed roads up there have been groomed for snowmobiling, too.

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