Focus on the Finger Lakes: A trip to Otisco Lake uncovers a hidden gem!
Otisco Lake Park, a 3-acre park on the northeastern lake front, and the DEC Fishing Access Site on the western end of the Causeway, offer the only public access to Otisco Lake. Take a drive around this 5.4 mile long lake and you won't find a public swimming area or motor boat launch but you can still easily fill a day exploring the area. The Museum Adventure Team did just that when we ventured out on a very cold Saturday morning recently to explore Otisco Lake. Our first stop was the Baltimore Woods Nature Center located about 10 minutes north of the lake. What a hidden treasure we found!
Thanks to the work of some very dedicated community members, Baltimore Woods Nature Center has been connecting people with nature since 1966! In the beautiful John A. Weeks Interpretive Center we were greeted by helpful staff and volunteers. There we found a Discovery Library for children, the art gallery, a large program room, a gift shop, and Miss Hiss, a northern pine snake.
Did you know: The head of the northern pine snake is much like a turtle's in that it is small relative to body size? This snake reaches a maximum length of 6 feet and is one of the largest snakes in North America. Miss Hiss is living the life at Baltimore Woods Nature Center and even has her own Twitter account @MissHissBW!
Just outside the back door of the visitors center there is a deck and covered pergola, a stone fireplace and picnic tables. Here you can sit a spell to watch the birds and wildlife at the edge of the woods or set out on a hike along one or more of the several trails that lead into the woods. With 6 miles of trails to choose from that is exactly what Brenda, Debbie and I did. Rated from easy to moderate, we found trails narrow and wide, some still ice covered, with some nice ups & downs for variety, overlooks, meadows, a meandering stream and all the joy of a walk in the woods. If you travel with your pups though take note, dogs are not allowed at Baltimore Woods.
The Interpretive Center is open M-F, 9-4 and Sat, 10-4. Closed Sundays and major holidays. Trails are open dawn to dusk every day. Parking and admission is free, however donations are welcome and used to help maintain their trails, fund camp scholarships, defray general operating costs and more.