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Otsego Outdoors wants us all to take a hike

With plenty of summer left and abundant natural space to discover, the Otsego Outdoors Summer Octet includes state forests, state parks, local parks, Otsego Land Trust properties, private property open to the public, and the “New Lisbon Ride” that links Gilbert Lake State Park and Texas Schoolhouse State Forest.

By completing eight activities before September 21, participants earn a free embroidered Summer Octet patch and get listed on the Otsego Outdoors Challenge Roster. Participants can head to to find the full range of ‘summer octet’ possibilities.

“The menu of challenges this summer offers many opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors,” said Jeff O’Handley, program director for the Otsego County Conservation Association. “In addition to the hikes and bikes and berry picking, we hope some will join us in some of our dirty and wet invasive species activities.”

Destinations new to the Octet Challenge this year are Bear Swamp State Forest in Decatur, the Robert V. Woodruff Outdoor Learning Center in Jordanville, Emmons Pond Bog in Oneonta, and New Island Forest Trails in Catella Park, Oneonta. Not all destinations are located directly inside Otsego County’s borders, but organizers note all are within approximately 10 miles of the county.

“The Woodruff Center in Van Hornesville has lovely waterfalls, and the Emmons Pond Bog is a great place to hike,” said Peg Odell, program and communications manager at Otsego 2000. “Participants tell us they love to explore new places, so we’ve widened our scope and welcome suggestions for new places and events to include.”

“Doing the hikes with my kids was the best,” said Paula Wengert of Burlington Flats, who completed the Spring Octet Challenge with five of her children. “The Otsego Outdoors website made organizing these hikes so much easier.”

More than 500 have completed the seasonal Octet Challenges since their February 2021 debut, totaling more than 4,000 hikes, paddles, and cycling routes throughout Otsego County. Participants have ranged from young children hiking with parents or grandparents to an 84-year-old who made a point to note her age on her activity log. Some complete the challenge solo or with their dog, others hike or paddle with friends or family members.

Hikes range from one to four miles, and participants can choose their own distance when paddling or cycling.

The Summer Octet offers a ‘Your Choice” option, so people can get credit for swimming, horseback riding, fishing, berry-picking, camping, geocaching, or any summertime outdoor activity. People also can get credit for participating in guided hikes and paddles, lake, river, and trail clean-ups, and other outdoor events listed at

A collaborative effort of Otsego 2000, the Otsego Land Trust, and the Otsego County Conservation Association, Otsego Outdoors connects people with year-round opportunities to enjoy the outdoors throughout the county.

Otsego Land Trust Executive Director Greg Farmer says the Fetterly Forest trail is one of the best short hikes in the region.

“It’s a gradual ascent to the overlook where you can gain a clear view of Canadarago Lake and Deowongo Island,” he said. “If you’re more inclined to an upper body workout, there’s nothing better than renting a canoe or kayak at the Brookwood Point conservation area.”

On June 20, hiker Tom Walsh completed a 208-mile continuous thru-hike to all 25 state forests and state parks in Otsego County to raise funds for Bassett Cancer Institute and Otsego Outdoors. He also used the hike to promote the many green spaces across the county.

“Bear Swamp State Forest is a favorite of Tom’s, so we’re glad to add it to the Octet Challenge,” Ms. Odell said. “There’s a wonderful view hiking along the Roseboom Forest Access Road.”

To participate in the Otsego Outdoors Summer Octet, visit for information on the featured trails and an activity log form. The website also lists upcoming trail work days, lake clean-ups, and outdoor events. Call 607-547-8881 or e-mail for more information.


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