Good afternoon, birders!

I was having an offline conversation about the Hawthorn Orchard trails, 
descriptions, the desire for a map, etc. and thought it would be helpful to 
share the following trail descriptions and “map” of the Hawthorn Orchard with 
the greater birding community.

First, a note on parking. Park in the right rear dirt trailer parking lot of 
the Oxley Equestrian Center (220 Pine Tree Road, Ithaca, NY). You may also 
continue along the dirt road at the right rear corner of the Oxley Equestrian 
Center trailer parking lot and park near the corner of the outdoor tennis 
courts. Parking in the main Reis Tennis Center parking lot is discouraged.

Link to the map and more completed trail color descriptions are below. Please 
note, there are no trail or color markings within the actual Hawthorn Orchard.

I think it’s important to understand the geography when visiting. The main 
Hawthorn Orchard is a large, roughly 13-acre, rectangular parcel, running 
lengthwise in a North-South direction. There’s the steep ravine as the North 
boundary, an old horse pasture as the South boundary, a large 
soccer/rugby/intramural sports ball field and the Reis Tennis Center as the 
East boundary, and the East Ithaca Recreation Way as the West boundary. The 
Hawthorn Orchard land slopes in an overall Southwest direction.

It’s easy to get disoriented in there, but you cannot get lost. You can use 
your hearing to identify where you are within the Hawthorn Orchard. Listen for 
trail walkers along the East Ithaca Recreation Way. Listen for people playing 
tennis at the outdoor tennis courts. Listen for the road noise from Mitchell 
Street traffic just beyond the North Ravine. I often forget to mention that I 
use these helpful auditory cues to keep myself oriented when birding over there.

As for trails and entrances, there is a well defined East-West trail (Map: teal 
colored trail) that connects the Northwest corner clearing, by the East Ithaca 
Recreation Way in view of the Black Oak Lane Townhouses, to the Northeast 
corner where there are a couple of defined entrances.

One of the Northeast corner defined entrances is just Northwest of a small 
equipment shed on the North side of the ball field located behind and on the 
West side of the Reis Tennis Center outdoor tennis courts. The other Northeast 
corner entrance is located to the Northeast of and just beyond the previously 
mentioned shed, and is adjacent to the outfield boundary fence of the softball 
field (located on the North side of the Reis Tennis Center). This latter 
entrance (Map: orange colored trail) brings you into a very open maple forest 
that slopes down into the North-side ravine. The trail here follows along the 
uphill side of the ravine and connects near the previously-mentioned Northeast 
entrance area (Map: teal colored trail).

There is another trail one can navigate (Map: red colored trail) which runs 
from the Northeast entrance (to the Northwest of the shed) along an inside 
track all the way along the Easternmost edge of the Hawthorn Orchard, that 
brings you out to the very Southeast entrance. There’s also the various wide 
passages along the Southern interior section of the Hawthorn Orchard (Map: 
purple colored trail); those were previously used by equestrians years ago, but 
are no longer maintained for that purpose. Those wide paths meander along the 
Southern section and bring you from the Southeast corner to the Southwest 

Some historical aerial images may be accessed by visiting this link here:

The latter historical aerial image was taken in 2006 for me by Bill Hecht. I’ve 
used that flyover image to create a PDF map with color-indicated trails for 
descriptive purposes. Again, please note, there are no trail or color markings 
within the actual Hawthorn Orchard.

The trail map PDF may be accessed by visiting this link here:

  *   The teal colored trail is the main East-West trail near and along the 
North ravine edge.
  *   The orange colored trail is the one that goes into the open section of 
maples closest to the softball field and connects to the teal colored trail.
  *   The red colored trail is the main North-South trail along the Easternmost 
edge of the Hawthorn Orchard.
  *   The purple colored trail is the one that meanders along the old 
equestrian trails on the South side of the Hawthorn Orchard.
  *   The white colored trails are purely deer paths. Only navigate if you feel 
confident or adventurous.
  *   The gray colored trail is a poorly-defined deer path as well, but is nice 
to poke along for warblers and especially for Yellow-bellied Flycatcher in late 
May and early June.

A final reminder that it is often extremely muddy here. Wear muck boots and be 
prepared to get wet and muddy, especially following recent rainfall.

Hope these resources are useful for birders visiting the Hawthorn Orchard for 
the first time, or if you’ve been there multiple times before!

Good birding!

Chris T-H

Chris Tessaglia-Hymes
PO Box 488
8 Etna Lane
Etna, NY 13062


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