Allegany State Park – Hike the Slide Hollow Ridge to Mt. Onondaga and Mt. Seneca

Bushwhack to Mt. Onondaga and Mt. Seneca from Bear Caves

Bushwhack to Mt. Onondaga and Mt. Seneca from Bear Caves

Slide Hollow is located on the north side of ASP 3.  It starts at the end of the Creekside Cabin trail.  It is bordered by Mt. Seneca on the west and Mt. Onondaga on the north and east.  This guide describes a hike on the “U” shaped ridge surrounding Slide Hollow.  The entire hike is between 4.5 and 5 miles long depending upon detours you might take around obstacles like blowdown and pricker bush areas.  You should not attempt this bushwhack without a map and compass or at least a gps.

Here is the summary of the hike:Beginning at the trailhead for the Bear Caves trail, follow the trail to the Bear Caves.

Then bushwhack north up the southeastern slope of Mt. Onondaga,

Then turn west to the summit of Mount Onondaga,

Then turn south to the summit of Mt. Seneca,

Then turn east and follow the marked trail back to the Bear Caves and the parking lot.

 

000bearcavesparkingmarked1Park at the parking lot on ASP 3 for the trail to the Bear Caves (the parking lot is on the south side of ASP 3, the Bear Cave trailhead is on the north side of ASP 3.)

 

 

 

 

About 70 yards up the trail the blue trail markers go to your right (east) and an unmarked footpath goes to your left (west).  The unmarked foot path is the old trail to the bear caves.  Both trails curve around and meet each other about 200 yards up further on either trail, at which point the old unmarked trail heads north to the bear caves and the new marked trail heads a bit east with some switchbacks on its way to the bear caves.  Take the new marked trail so that the old trail can regenerate itself.

000FirstBearCaveAt the quarter mile mark you will reach the rock outcroppings that make up the Bear Caves.  The blue marked trail goes to your left (west) and heads up Mount Seneca.  That is the trail on which you will return to this point.  You want to head right (east) along the rock outcroppings to explore the bear caves and find the point at which you will start the bushwhack up the southeastern slope of Mount Onondaga.

 

 

 

001PathThruBearCavesAbout a tenth of a mile along the rock outcroppings you will come to what looks like a foot path to the top of the rocks.  This is also part of the old bear caves trail.

You want to take this footpath to the top of the rocks, then head northeast up the hill (which is the southeastern slope of Mount Onondaga.)

 

 

 

003SouthRidgeOnondaga This hill is not steep.  It is about the same angle as walking up stairs.

 

 

 

 

004SouthridgeOnondagaIt is generally open forest and easy to traverse.  But it is a steady climb for about a half mile, then a brief level area.

 

 

 

 

005SouthridgeOnondagaThen the final climb of about 100 yards, after reach the top of the Mt. Onondaga ridge.

 

 

 

 

 

006viewofsenecaandonondagamarkedFor the next quarter mile you will be on a narrow ridge with views of Mt. Seneca and Mt Onondaga to the west and northwest, and the Mount Oneida ridge to the east.

 

 

 

 

011topofridgeblowdown There is a significant amount of very old blowdown in this area that you can easily pick your way through or step over.  It appears that many years ago all of the trees might have been leveled by wind storm and that the forest has since regrown.

 

 

 

 

012topofridgeblowdownWhen the ridge begins to widen you need to head in a more northerly direction because the Mount Onondaga ridge wraps around to the west and is meat by a ridge coming in from the north.

 

 

 

 

014summitonondagaprickerbushAt about 1.75 miles into the hike you will be at the point on Mount Onondaga where the ridge comes in from the north.  This is the point where you need to turn west to hike over the summit of Mount Onondaga.  Unfortunately, the path you want to take is covered with pricker bushes that are sparse enough to hike through in the spring and fall if you have sufficient leg and arm coverings.

Alternatively, you can hike a bit to the north and then hike along the northwest side slope of the summit of Mount Onondaga to a point where the pricker bushes disappear, or you can stay on the southeast slope of Mount Onondaga and hike along it until the pricker bushes disappear.

 

 

014tubpicRegardless of which path you choose, you need to end up on the western side of the summit of Mount Onondaga, where you will see what looks like to be an old cleared trail.

This old cleared trail will take you southwest up a slight incline before it disappears.  Along the way you will come to a bathtub which may be there to catch rain water for horses as there are no creeks on this ridge.

 

 

 

015dononondagatosenecaYou can see the tops of the trees on Mt. Seneca to the south. That is where you want to head.

 

 

 

 

016northslopeofsenecaYou will descend to a col on a narrow ridge that connects the hill you descend with Mount Seneca.

 

 

 

 

 

017hammockOn the way up the north side of Mount Seneca you will reach a favorite spot for taking a mid-hike nap.

To your left (east) (in the background of the picture)   is the southeast ridge of Mount Onondaga that you were on much earlier in the hike.

Continue up the north side of Mt Seneca until you reach the footpath that is the official Mt. Seneca trail marked with blue disk.  The summit of Mt Seneca is actually a few yards ahead but is blocked with a significant amount of blowdown.

The official trail goes off to your right (west) and left (east.)  You want to turn left (east) to head back to the Bear Caves trailhead parking lot.  If you turned west (right) the trail will take you down to the Mt. Seneca trailhead near the intersection of ASP 3 and ASP 1.

017slidehollowcreeklookingsouthThe trail near the summit of Mount Seneca has some blowdown across it but you can easily take a detour around it.  The trail will head south, then turn west, then turn northeast, then southeast again as it winds its way down to the bottom of Slide Hollow where you will cross the creek

 

 

 

 

019slidehollowcreeklookingnorthAfter crossing the creek the trail turns north up the creek for a short ways, then heads back southeast to the bear caves.  Follow it back to the trailhead parking lot.