Report by Diane Aaronson. Twenty-three people braved cold temperatures to hike the Van Cleft trail, which is accessed through Wilber Park, Oneonta. The day was sunny, clear and cold. Two members opted to walk the paved trails in Wilber Park. The rest of us warmed up quickly as we headed uphill on the blue and orange trails. The Van Cleft trail features new red and silver metallic trail markers, which are easy to see, except for at the junction with a section of a logging road. On warm days the logging road can be quite muddy, but not this day. The Van Cleft trail gently slopes through a wooded wildlife and bird sanctuary. As we walked along the newly frozen trail, we noticed some interesting ice formations on the ground and in the trees. At a clearing near the uppermost Wilber Park apartment building, we paused to look out over the downtown area of Oneonta and the hills beyond. The view was great on this clear day!
The weather had warmed up by the time we got back down to the park so we continued to enjoy the sunny morning and a cool down phase of our hike as we walked along the paved trails of Wilber Park towards the high school and then back on the lower level to the parking lot near the tennis courts. This was approximately a 3-mile total hike.
The trail was created in 2019, so you will not see it on the map at the Wilber Park trailhead kiosk, which was created in 2013. A description of the trail can be found at https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/van-cleft-nature-trail-oneonta-ny-36729225
A news article about the creation of the trail can be found at https://www.thedailystar.com/news/local_news/students-blaze-new-nature-trail-in-oneonta/article_6d917260-cf16-5dbd-afaf-799b8ce47522.html
Photos by Scott Fielder.