When it’s cold and snowy in Binghamton, heading outside for outdoor recreation might seem impossible without a pair of skis or snowshoes. But even during the winter, there are trails that can be hiked with just a pair of boots and a bottle of water. Check out these spots for cool winter hikes that don’t require any specialized gear.
IBM Glen — Located just outside Johnson City on Robinson Hill Road, IBM Glen is a local nature preserve with a variety of trails that offers great hikes during all seasons. The area features wide, well-marked trails, a stone bridge, a stream and a few small waterfalls. Although the trails are sometimes icy, they remain open year-round and are generally passable throughout the winter. Because the area offers several different trails, the mileage of a hike can vary, but hikers can expect to walk about three miles to complete a full loop.
Jones Park — This 304-acre park offers roughly four miles of trails and is a short drive from campus, located at 97 State Line Rd. in Vestal. The trails are intended for both hikers and mountain bikers and feature several stream crossings. The terrain varies, with some trails remaining relatively flat and others offering steep climbs, and the area remains open year-round. Because trails aren’t always well-marked and cell service is poor in the area, hikers should download a trail map and let a friend know where they’re going and when they expect to return before heading to the park.
Nature Preserve — No car? No problem! BU’s Nature Preserve, which encompasses 182 acres of land, is located right behind campus and features a wide variety of trails and lots of wildlife, including deer, birds and squirrels. Although some trails, such as those that climb the mountain behind the University, may be difficult to attempt in the winter, footpaths like Marsh Trail, Pipeline Trail, Interpretive Trail and Pond Trail are passable year-round. Hikers can see Harpur Pond covered in ice and animal tracks in the snow.
The Brickyard — This spot is hard to get to, but if you can find the entrance, you’ll be rewarded with several miles of trails and stunning views. The area, colloquially known as ‘The Brickyard,’ is located within the Brandywine Heights area of Binghamton and is literally the site of an old brickyard. The pipeline located near the top of the property offers a view of Downtown Binghamton. Hikers can access it by parking along Old State Road or a nearby street and walking down Wittman Lane. Hikers shouldn’t park near the trailhead on Wittman Lane, since it’s private property, but hikers and bikers are allowed to walk down the road to enter the area. Go through the gate at the end of Wittman Lane and walk along the trail on top of Wittman Dam to access the rest of the trails. The area is open throughout the winter and trails are passable, even if covered in snow.
Taughannock Falls State Park — Although this park, located near Ithaca, is a bit of a drive from Binghamton, it is one of the best and easiest winter hikes in central New York. The park features a 215-foot waterfall, which can be accessed via Gorge Trail, an in-and-out trail that is wide, relatively flat and well-maintained. The total hike is less than two miles and pays off with views of the gorge and Taughannock Falls. The trail occasionally closes in the winter, but it is usually passable and open to hikers.