Last weekend I went to Hammond Hill State Forest for a 12 km race. This is ~ 8 miles east of Ithaca. I don't have info on number of trails, trail distance etc.
The state allowed the race organizer to groom trails the night before and morning of the race. While they benefited from the big post-Christmas storm, it was 40+ on race day and things were warming up and getting thin.
The rest of the winter, this is ungroomed, backcountry skiing. You're basically skiing on single track. The grades were reasonable both up and down, however I was on a 6 km loop and there was a lot of the trail system I didn't ski. It's very pretty up there, a nice mix of hardwoods and evergreens.
There was a warming hut on Hammond Hill Rd that was open for the race; I don't know whether it's open the remainder of the winter.
If you're looking for more of a backcountry skiing experience and don't mind making your own tracks, check out Hammond Hill. You might try reaching out to cayuganordicski.org to inquire about conditions.
i'm looking forward to checking this out on one of my gp trips. i got a great mtb tour from one of the cycle-cny peeps a few seasons ago and we tried to get together a few times for a some xc skiing there but it hasn't worked out. did u climb /decend the radio tower? looks like it could be pretty rad on skinny skis
I've been skiing Hammond Hill for 30 years, even before the existing trail network, when it was REALLY backcountry skiing. The trails were a lot steeper back then, but they've since re-routed the trails to be less gnarly. Radio tower trails are all that's left of the long fast downhill...really fun when there's good coverage. It gets a lot of traffic and many of the trails become flat packed, and also snow shoers and horses may find their way there. The trails are "multi-use" but no motorized, except the designated snowmobile trails that go through there.
At Hammond Hill, actually the descent down Green 1 (G1), off of the more popular Yellow 1 (Y1) trail, is much more gnarly than any of the trails coming down from the radio tower. The Greens don't get much use, either. We have to have a LOT of snow in order to ski the Green trails, though, like 2 winters ago. They tend to be wet trails, and it takes a lot of snow and/or freezing temps to make skiing them fun.
But, if we have that much snow, like PDQ suggested, there are much less-traveled, more back-country type trail systems in the Tompkins area where I would go. I favor Shindagin, since it's practically my backyard. There is a lot of awesome skiing to be done on and between the Blue trails when the snow is deep enough. When the snow is not so deep, the Yellow and Red trails that follow the ridge-line to the west are still pretty fun, and there is a big section of really nice, low-angle glade skiing on the northern side of Bald Hill School Rd. I love taking my big fat Fischer Boundless Crowns up there and exploring. Connecticut Hill is really fun as well, and really beautiful!
Gargonzola, have you ever skied in Kennedy State Forest off the backside of GP? That gets a lot of snow, and is the place to go in low snowfall stretches. I actually xc skied 4x there last year, in pretty decent conditions, when there was nowhere else for miles and miles and miles to ski. It's not the most exciting place to xc ski, IMO, but like I said, it gets snow!
Great info, thanks! Snowmonkey I saw a while back on cycle-cny you were doing Tuesday shinny skis - ill keep checking, that sounds like a blast and worth a trip up some time ( although after ski weekends, Sunday night hockey and Monday night beer league racing the legs are usually prett spent by Tuesday). I've ventured off on some of the snowmobile trails above the gp Nordic track but that's about it. I've only been doing the xc thing a few years but having a blast and added metal edge edge skinny skis and just ventured into some bcXcd with a pair of epochs and 3 pins so super stoked! (and maybe a little frustrated but will expand on that more another time)
If you drive up Clute Rd past Hope Lake Lodge and past the Nordic center...go about a mile or so and on the right side you will see a closed road/snowmobile trail that enters Tuller Hill. Ski up just a few feet and go left into the woods. I think there is also a trail on the right. There is a whole network of free xc trails there. Needs about 4" more snow to be skiable. with this lake effect snow, it could be skiable by the weekend.