Whaupaunaucau is a forest in New York's southern tier. It's too long a drive for me and not particularly interesting. I stopped there once on my way north from Pennsylvania. It's not to say that there's anything wrong with this forest because I wouldn't visit most of the forests in CNY if I hadn't lived nearby, it just isn't the sort of place I'd go out of my way to visit.
So what's at Whaupaunaucau? The place is a maze of trails and forest roads. I mean this quite literally. When I went hiking there I took a look at the map, saw that all the trails were numbered, assumed the trails on the map would correspond with those same trails in the woods where they would be equally well labeled, and brought a note with only the order of trails and the direction Iíd need to turn in order to make a loop of the forest. It looked like a bingo cheat sheet. R1, L2, L3, R5, L6, and so on.
Youíd think that by now Iíd know better. I was off my directions after the second trail, where what I thought was trail 3 ended in small bare patch in the forest. I would call it a clearing if it had been large enough for light to shine through the canopy and hit the ground there, but that was not the case. It looked like a tree that should have grown there did not and the trail decided it was a good place to end.
After all that, I decided I remembered the trail map well enough to wing it through the woods, which probably counts as a new record for how quickly Iíve managed to lose myself in a forest. To my credit, I did remember the general topography well enough to find my way out of the woods, but I didnít have a very good idea of where I was when I came out, so my direction notes no longer counted for much.
I spent my remaining time at Whaupaunaucau wandering the trails in the widest circle I could manage and using the lake as my main landmark. Most of the trails eventually looped back to the lake and I knew I could easily find the exit (and the car) if I found the lake.
Most of the trails at Whaupaunaucau are wide and grassy. The hills are mild. The forest has that sleepy feel Southern Tier forests often have. Itís pleasant. Itís quiet. The lake is nice, but thatís about as exciting as it gets. Is that bad? Certainly not. Not every hike needs to be a workout. Not every hike needs to be a photo frenzy. Sometimes itís more than enough to walk and enjoy the forest, and Whaupaunaucau is a great place to do that.