FKT: Kyle Metzler - Onondaga Trail (NY) - 2023-09-15

Route variation
entire trail
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
8h 9m 9s

I started at the southern terminus of the Onondaga Branch of the Finger Lakes Trail at the Stoney Brook Trailhead in the Cuyler Hill State Forest shortly after 7am on Friday, September 15, 2023. Weather conditions were ideal: 45F and low humidity. I had a hydration vest with approximately 4L of water with Tailwind mixed in, 8 GU energy gels, and 8 electrolyte pills. Despite being a lightly trafficked portion of the trail, the trail was in good shape from the southern terminus until the first road section at Crains Mills Road and State Route 13. There were a couple of short sections in open fields that were a bit overgrown, but it was very manageable and there was hardly any mud. After the State Route 13 road section, I ascended up into the Morgan Hill State Forest. Other than the switchbacks up into Morgan Hill being slightly overgrown and encountering some deep mud south of Spruce Pond for about a half mile, the Morgan Hill section was in great shape. I was moving very well through Morgan Hill, which is the hilliest section of the entire trail. The first sign of fatigue occurred on the next road section down Bardeen Road between Morgan Hill and Highland Forest. Despite being relatively flat and paved and the air temperature only being about 60F, the full sun was harsh and I could feel my body starting to slow as I re-entered the woods on the ascent into Highland Forest at about Mile 24. Once I reached the Skyline Lodge in Highland Forest at Mile 27, I could no longer stomach GU gels and nausea was setting in. My fatal flaw was not bringing any variation of nutrition and the Tailwind plus GU approach backfired because I got sick of all the sugary fuel. I needed to pack more salty and savory nutrition. The nausea and fatigue slowed me down significantly coming out of Highland Forest into DeRuyter Reservoir. I did not enjoy the road section across the north end of the reservoir, but I was able to maintain a steady shuffle. I hit the 50k mark ascending into the DeRuyter State Forest. At this point, I was hiking the ascents, slowly shuffling in the flats, and jogging the descents. The trails in Highland Forest and DeRuyter State Forest were all in good shape outside of the occasional short muddy section. I kept moving at a slow but steady pace down the switchbacks out of the DeRuyter State Forest into New Woodstock. The section in the valley in New Woodstock where you running through farms had some very overgrown sections that were difficult to traverse. The last major ascent out after crossing State Route 80 in New Woodstock was also overgrown until you ventured back into the woods. It was a slog up the last set of switchbacks up to Smith Road, where you descend into a mile long road section that I really did not enjoy. I had nothing left in the tank by the time I came off Damon Road and back onto the trail into the Tioughnioga Wildlife Management Area. I gritted the last couple miles out, moving as quickly as I could at a major calorie deficit. After one last gradual ascent, I reached the anticlimactic northern terminus of the Onondaga Trail in 8:09:09, fully depleted but happy. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 28 miles of this adventure. The last 11 were a bit of a slog, but in the grand scheme of things, it was a successful solo outing on a picture perfect late summer day.