Rome Sand Plains Resource Management Area: 9 miles from Fish Creek Cabin Resort
The Rome Sand Plains are one of the few inland pine barrens remaining in the United States. This natural resource rich area is truly unique and well worth exploring.
Ecosystems comprising the Rome Sand Plains include:
- High sand dunes
- Low peat bogs
- Pine barrens & hardwood forests
The sand plains have become a favorite location for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. After being used to observing forests mainly comprised of mixed hardwood and deciduous trees in Central New York, it is pretty spectacular to be surrounded by so many hemlock and white pine trees. It was a refreshing and aromatic delight to walk on trails naturally mulched by fallen pine needles and cones. Many interesting and rare Lepidoptera species reside in the sand plains area, as well as a number of bird species. We heard many different bird species during our hike, though I can not identify many by calls. For history information about the Rome Sand Plains refer to the DEC’s website.
We started our first hike on the Wood Creek Trail off of Hogsback Road in Rome, NY (marked as 3 on the Rome Sand Plains Map above). This trail is a little over a half mile which leads to the bank of Wood Creek. The trail winds through a variety of cover types consisting of stands of hemlocks, white pines, and oaks. Towards the middle of the trail you can look down a steep hillside – – an outstanding example of an ancient sand dune. You later come to a small hill that opens to a shrubby flood plain that leads straight to Wood Creek. I will be sure to bring a pole with me next time, as I believe I could catch a trout swimming by. This trail does not loop around, but as you hike back to the trail head, it is a pleasure to admire the very old and massive pine trees lining the path. We spotted many signs of woodpeckers as well.
When we arrived back at the parking area, we walked further down Hogsback Road (approximately .08 miles to the entrance of the Blue Trail – – marked 4 on the map above). The sign in front of this trail says it is 1.6 miles, but our GPS mapped it at around 2.0 miles. The Blue Trail was extremely well marked and groomed. As we hiked this trail we simply followed the blue markers and direction arrows at the intersections, as indicated on the marked map above. At the end when you reach a loop split, you turn left to follow the path back to Hogsback Rd. For detailed directions also see http://www.cnyhiking.com/RomeSandPlainsUniqueArea.htm.
Just a friendly reminder, while hiking this trail, keep an eye on the blue markers so you don’t wander off the path. The markers are very frequent, so we were confident the entire time that we were on the correct track. In comparison of the two trails hiked, the Blue Trail clearly is the winner because of its marked and groomed trail, and its scenic loop deep into the woods. While the The Woods Creek Trail was very nice, it was short. However, if time permits, we recommend doing both to get a full afternoons worth of exercise :).