Berry Hill Fire Tower/Finger Lakes Trail System is a 12 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near McDonough, New York that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
cross country skiing
This section of the Finger Lakes trail begins off dirt Tower Road just south of the Berry Hill Fire Tower. Be sure to check out the fire tower if you're in this area for the views (see panoramic picture above), however the gate is sometimes closed & locked for access to the tower. The views reach all the way to the foothills of the Catskills. The trail enters McDonough State Forest then soon passes a trail register and then goes across Tower Road. The trail turns left, then soon crosses dirt Preston Road and then another trail register. Just prior to the trail turning right there is a connector trail on your right that leads to the Kopac Trail. The trail crosses a stream on a couple of bridges, enters Bowman Lake State Park and heads near some campsites in the park. The trail meets the northern terminus of the Kopac Trail, then passes close to the beach parking area. There is a summer concession stand here, then you'll pass a summer water tap and soon the Nature Building on your right. This building is used as a warming hut for cross country skiers in the winter. Pass the southern terminus of the Kopac Trail then follow the park road past the ticket booth. The trail leaves the state park on Sherman Road before turning off the road and reentering McDonough State Forest. The trail crosses Bowman Creek on a bridge, then follows Bowman Road to get to the small hamlet of East McDonough and NY 220 (see short video below). The Outpost Restaurant and their famous hamburgers is located a quarter of a mile to the east of the trail on NY 220. The trail leaves the small hamlet by going through a playground, then follows an old road uphill and reenters McDonough State Forest. The trail follows the old road, then another to the crossing of Short Cut Road. The trail enters the forest and then crosses Chestnut Road. When the trail reaches Hogan Road it marks the end of the trail described for this section. This 7.3 mile section of the FLT is easy to moderate hiking and is a popular section of the trail, especially in the state park. This stretch of the Finger Lakes Trail is featured on map M24 from the FLTC.
Very over-grown, about 2 miles from Bowman Lake campground, grass is about 2-3 ft high with person-height shrubs, branches and poison Ivy in good amount in the overgrowth. Not technically difficult, but it should be noted that you will want to ensure you're well covered with pants and long sleeves to make it through some of the sections.
Otherwise, a nice hike with lovely scenery. Not technically difficult, very little elevation. No views. All the creeks are dry, but a couple of surprising mud pits that you need to watch out for, that can pose a challenge if you don't have the appropriate footwear.
This was suggested as an easy hike and a lot of people on the trail were in casual beach/camping attire. Just a warning that right now this isn't in condition for those who aren't dressed for hiking.
Very nice hike. This trail is part of the Finger Lakes Trail. Well marked and beautiful scenery through the forest. Great views from the top of the tower if the gate isn't locked.