South Hill Recreation Way

New York

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South Hill Recreation Way Facts

States: New York
Counties: Tompkins
Length: 3.3 miles
Trail end points: Hudson St. at Hillview Pl. & at CR 119 (Ithaca) and Burns Road (SE of Ithaca)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016709
Trail activities: Bike, Fishing, Wheelchair Accessible, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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South Hill Recreation Way Description

The South Hill Recreation Way follows the southern rim of the Six Mile Creek gorge from the outskirts of southeast Ithaca to Burns Road, near the Ithaca Reservoir. The gravel path follows the former grade of the Cayuga and Susquehanna, built in 1849 to haul coal from Pennsylvania to a canal in Ithaca. The rail later merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, abandoned in 1957. The trail was developed in 1986 as an Environmental Quality Bond Act Project.

Today the trail meanders through a combination of residential neighborhoods, meadows and woodlands, crossing several deep ravines and offering scenic views across the Six Mile Creek valley. Part of the route passes through the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve and Vincenzo Iacovelli Park, providing access to those sites and the Six Mile Creek gorge itself. Hiking paths lead off the biking trail into the gorge.

Two trailheads are on TCAT public bus routes.

Parking and Trail Access

Limited parking is available at the Burns Road trailhead. There's an accessible entrance off Crescent Place. You may be able to park at South Hill School at 520 Hudson St. (restrictions might apply when school is in session).

South Hill Recreation Way Reviews

The nice and wide former railroad trail is a solid 6-mile hike if you start from the lower end, go to the historic post and back. If you detour on the blue blaze trail you make your way to a cool pond and dam where people jump off a 30' waterfall. Took our dog along and he loved jumping in the water but there is some tall grass so beware of ticks!

I read the other review of the South Hill Rec Way a few days ago and its inconsistencies have been bugging me ever since. The reviewer complained that the incline part of the trail was too difficult for her child, yet goes on to complain that the trail isn't long enough or challenging enough. Isn't she contradicting herself? A longer, more challenging trail would certainly not be child-friendly. A child-friendly trail would not be challenging to an adult. You can't have it both ways. Maybe she just expects the impossible, or is the kind of person who finds fault with everything.

The South Hill Rec Trail is a great neighborhood walk- it's a former railroad line that was converted to a nature trail as part of the rails to trails conservancy. It's quite flat, except for the incline section, which can hardly be described as steep. And there ARE numerous, quite challenging trails that go off from the main trail, leading into the gorge, to the reservoir, and down to Six Mile Creek.

There is parking at the end of Juniper Drive where the three 'arms' of the trail meet up. It's not extensive, but aren't you undermining the point of a natural area by fouling it with a huge parking lot?

Most of us who use the trail live on South Hill and walk or bike to it. It's excellent for dog-walking, thanks to the shade from the trees keeping it cool. It's also great for running, walkers, and cross-country skiing in the winter.

The South Hill Rec Trail is not meant to be a tourist attraction. I'd be quite surprised if anyone DID travel here from 2 hours away. It's a part of our neighborhood on South Hill, just as the local playgrounds are probably not something you'd drive your child a fair distance to experience. It's one of the many things that makes our neighborhood such a wonderful place to live.

The trail is overall nice, but there is a very steep section that is quite long for a little 7 year old. She had to walk up a section and that is frustrating for kids, so then I got off my bike and both pushed her and my bike up the steep part. Besides the steep part that connects two relatively flat sections of trail it was very nice and pretty. Bring the bug spray because you are surrounded by woods and wet water areas from the gorge. The trails is pretty much 90% shade so that makes it good on a super sunny day to get some relief by all the trees.

The parking is terrible. Basically you have to find the best spot you can as you on on a hill in the middle of the city of Ithaca. I wish the trail were longer, but it was nice to try something different with our 7yr old.

Worth a try if you are the type of person who likes to try to new things and its okay if you get disappointed. Don't drive two hours for this trail....if you know what I mean.

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