Closer to home, you’d expect to find some virgin woods in the northeastern quarter of Oswego County, in undeveloped spots like Littlejohn and Happy Valley Wildlife Management Areas or Winona State Forest. However, ranked in the top five of the state’s largest lands, they sprawl over 8,000 acres each, and finding their stands of old growth poses a formidable challenge to today’s average, time-strapped hiker.
He thinks the trees were never harvested by the land’s original owners.
Whatever the case may be, McCloud Drive is an avenue through a natural treasure. Beyond the yellow barrier (designed to discourage the wild, late-night parties that used to disturbed Phillips Point’s tranquility) at the entrance to the WMA exists a spot that contemporary life forgot. Stately oaks, rough shag bark hickories and massive maples, their crowns towering 60, even 70 feet in the air, line the road like columns to an open air temple.
Off to the west side of the road, Oneida Lake gently laps the wooded shoreline. On the east, the forest reaches inland as far as the eye can see.
As you near the end of the road, the land around it rapidly narrows, forcing it to turn sharply to the east and make a loop. But the spit continues forward, growing narrower and narrower until finally disappearing into the lake.
The distance from barrier to point is less than half a mile, but the scenery is so mesmerizing it feels like a couple blocks. It’s a great place to escape the arrogance and apathy spawned by the asphalt and plastic of contemporary life and immerse yourself in a stress-free primordial setting of towering giants springing from beds of quivering flowers.