Get up and go: Finger Lakes State Park

There's so much to do here, return trips are almost obligatory

Everything was fine until the kayak flipped over.

Then, it got even better.

Assistant sports editor extraordinaire Mark Selig and I took a trip to Finger Lakes State Park on Sunday. There’s a ton to do there, but we went for a seemingly harmless duo: We planned to do about two hours of kayaking, then head out on the trails for a hike.

We stuck to that plan, although it took some improvisation. And Finger Lakes State Park is a fantastic place to improvise.

Trails and such. Huzzah! | Sean Morrison

Trails and such. Huzzah! | Sean Morrison

Where: Finger Lakes State Park, a huge camping, boating and hiking area just 20 minutes outside of Columbia. More than 1,000 acres lay before you. Make the most of them.

What to do: Hike, kayak, canoe, fish, swim, camp, mountain bike — the list goes on. There’s even an ATV area.

Where to go: Depends what you want to do. There are handy signs all along the road once you get to the park that will guide you to your desired trail/launch point.

Distance: There are trails of varying lengths on both the water and the ground. The kayaking routes tail off to about 4 ½ miles, and the hiking route we took was five miles.

Activity level: Low-High

Time: Open Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

What to wear: My best advice is to bring multiple changes of clothes and keep anything valuable in your car. If you’re anything like me, it will get ruined. More on that in a moment.

Other info: Kayaks and canoes can be rented at the office as you enter the park, and they can also inform you about some of the trails and things of that nature.

Once you pay the rental fee and pick up the key to the boat locker, the fun really begins. | Sean Morrison

Once you pay the rental fee and pick up the key to the boat locker, the fun really begins. | Sean Morrison

Tips

  • If you happen to get out on the water, be on the lookout for water buildup. If you notice your boat taking on water, do not ignore this fact and assume it will go away. Do not, for example, just keep paddling along and then try to address the problem once the bottom half of your boat is underwater and careening back and forth with each stroke of the paddle. I speak from experience on this. I would love to show you photos of the beautiful landscapes along the riverside at Finger Lakes, but we flopped into the water one too many times thanks to a hole in our boat.
    These people proved to be better kayakers than we were. | Sean Morrison

    These people proved to be better kayakers than we were. | Sean Morrison

    This resulted in the loss of my camera to the depths. As I said earlier, leave your valuables behind. One of those wind-up cameras from Walgreens might be your best bet if you’re really feeling like some photos out on the water.

    That said, our dip in the river was refreshing, and I got the pleasure of swimming in water you technically aren’t allowed to swim in for a couple miles or so while we hauled the boat back to the launching area. Mark, who has far better balance than I and is about 100 pounds lighter, managed to hop back into the boat, and I steered from the water (as best I could, anyway). Thank God for the life vests.

The best I can do for you is a photo from the shore via iPhone. Sorry, folks. | Sean Morrison

The best I can do for you is a photo from the shore via iPhone. Sorry, folks. | Sean Morrison

 The Destination: Much like last week’s trip, there are too many hot spots at Finger Lakes to sum them all up here. With the variety of activities available at the site, it would also be impractical to try to do so.

If you hadn’t gotten the gist yet, there’s enough going on at the park to keep you entertained for days, so go with a plan. Ours didn’t work out well thanks to a faulty boat and my bad balance, but it was still a blast.

And yes, we got some hiking in, too.

Mark's $50 shoes. This made me feel not-so-bad about the camera. | Sean Morrison

Mark’s $50 shoes. This made me feel not-so-bad about the camera. | Sean Morrison

That got messy, too. But as I’ve said on here before, you have to embrace the mess sometimes to get the most out of these trips.

I promise this wasn't posed. Maybe. | Sean Morrison

I promise this wasn’t posed. Maybe. | Sean Morrison