As gorge trails reopen, authorities remind hikers to be cautious of dangerous conditions

April 11, 2014

The lower section of the Cascadilla Gorge Trail, running from Linn Street to Stewart Avenue, reopened today after being closed for the winter, and both campus and town officials are reminding area residents to visit the region's trails carefully. Springtime is "one of the most dangerous times of year to be near our gorges," says Lt. Thomas T. Basher Jr. of the Ithaca Fire Department.

Rushing water in Cascadilla Creek. 14850 Photo.Rushing water in Cascadilla Creek. 14850 Photo.A combination of spring thaw and occasional rain in recent days means the creeks are running fast and heavy right now. "The local waterways are bitterly cold, can be deadly, and should be avoided," Basher says. The rushing water also means trails and staircases will be wet, and cold nights could leave icy spots, so the trails could be slick even on clear days.

Some trails are still closed, and Cornell University police chief Kathy Zoner reminded community members to "Obey all trail closures and posted regulations" in her weekly e-mail to campus. The University says the Cascadilla gorge trail "weathered the winter relatively well," with "minor railing damage." The trail system, which was originally constructed during the Civilian Conservation Corps era, rises some 400 feet as it extends from downtown Ithaca at the intersection of Linn Street and University Avenue alongside the Cornell campus to the intersection of Hoy Road and Route 366.

Contractors will be resuming work on the upper portion of the Cascadilla Gorge trail this spring, rebuilding large staircase sections below the College Avenue bridge. "We know the community is eagerly awaiting the reopening of the entire trail," said Todd Bittner of the Cornell Plantations, which maintains the trails that run through and near the Cornell campus. "We think everyone will be pleased with the results, and will agree it was worth the wait!"

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