As we continued to endure the restrictions of the 2020 pandemic in early June, we also expanded our Explore CNY series.

We drove about an hour west of the Mohawk Valley to Highland Forest, located in Fabius, just southeast of Cazenovia in Madison County. According to the hiking app All Trails, the trails at this Onondaga County park are rated as moderate. Um...yes and no. These trails are some of the most organized and well-marked ones in Central New York, but are also extremely challenging and steep in areas.

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Park your car and begin at a grandiose lodge with a spectacular overlook. The trails have the widest variety of flora and pathways we've seen. One minute you're walking through lush vegetation, the next minute you're gawking upwards at the majestic trees in the middle of a pine barrens.

There are dirt trails and grassy trails, there are numerous bridges and boardwalks, and log steps and bordered gravel paths to help you navigate the often muddy conditions. And there are a couple of small waterfalls.

Expect to see lots of hikers, bikers, and people on horseback. And skiers during the winter--remember that?

Pro tip: obtain and utilize a map. It's all very well-marked, but because the main trail is about 9 miles long, you might need to use some short cuts or else you're in for a longer trek than you expected.