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Cornell University

PE 1610: Backpacking in the Finger Lakes

A group of hikers

Escape from campus to explore the glens, gorges, wooded hills, waterfalls, vistas and trails of the Finger Lakes region. Learn basic outdoor living skills, including hiking, navigation, equipment selection and use, camping, backcountry cooking, and safety.

Course Fee

Students: $395
Community: $425
CU Faculty/Staff: $410

Fill out the Fee Waiver Application to apply for a free or reduced PE course. 

Fee NotesAll group camping equipment and food is included (tent, stove, fuel, cooking pots, etc.) If you don't have your own, personal camping gear (sleeping bag, headlamp, etc.) is available for rent at a 25% discount. See equipment list below.
AttendanceFirst class is mandatory.
Students must attend all classes to receive PE credit.
PrerequisitesNo previous experience.
Drop DeadlineSeptember 4th
LinksMedical Form
Section 1 Schedule
Saturday9/21/2410:00am to 5:00pm
Wednesday9/25/245:00pm to 7:00pm
Sat-Sun9/28/24 to 9/29/24 (overnight)10:00am (Sat) to 12:00pm (Sun)
Wednesday10/02/245:00pm to 7:00pm
Fri-Sun10/04/24 to 10/06/24 (overnights)5:00pm (Fri) to 12:00pm (Sun)
Section 2 Schedule
Saturday10/19/2410:00am to 5:00pm
Wednesday10/23/245:00pm to 7:00pm
Sat-Sun10/26/24 to 10/27/24 (overnight)10:00am (Sat) to 12:00pm (Sun)
Wednesday10/30/245:00pm to 7:00pm
Fri-Sun11/01/24 to 11/03/24 (overnights)5:00pm (Fri) to 12:00pm (Sun)


Section 3 Schedule
Saturday10/26/2410:00am to 5:00pm
Wednesday10/30/245:00pm to 7:00pm
Sat-Sun11/02/24 to 11/03/24 (overnight)10:00am (Sat) to 12:00pm (Sun)
Wednesday11/06/245:00pm to 7:00pm
Fri-Sun11/08/24 to 11/10/24 (overnights)5:00pm (Fri) to 12:00pm (Sun)


Equipment List

Although this personal gear list is long, these items are necessary for health and safety during your trip. Items with " * " can be rented from the Cornell Outdoor Education Outfitting Center.

Upper Body

  • Synthetic, non-cotton t-shirt
  • 1 long underwear top (polypropylene or wool, not cotton)
  • 1 non-cotton insulating layer (ex. fleece jacket, wool sweater, pile vest, down vest)
  • * 1 Rain Jacket or Poncho (must fit over all other layers and keep you dry)

Lower Body

  • 1 pair synthetic long underwear
  • synthetic athletic/hiking shorts
  • 1 pair long pants or lower body shell, one of the following:
    • * nylon wind pants
    • loose fitting synthetic pants, tight weave, NO JEANS
    • rain pants
    • hiking pants
  • underwear (cotton is fine here)
    • 1 pair for each day of trip recommended

Head and Hands

  • 1 warm hat, wool or synthetic
  • 1 to 2 bandanas
  • 1 pair wool/fleece mittens or gloves
  • 1 sun hat, baseball hat is fine


  • hiking socks (thick wool or synthetic, NOT cotton)
  • 1 pair hiking boots, good ankle support and traction, comfortable and broken in! Do not plan on wearing brand new hiking boots for the first time on your trip!
  • 1 pair camp shoes, soft shoes, warm; old sneakers work well (no open toed sandals or shoes with holes in them such as Tevas, Chacos, Crocs and Keens)

Personal Gear

  • * Frame backpack to carry all personal gear and your share of group food and gear: internal or external - pretty big (3,000-5,000 cubic inches)
  • * sleeping pad – closed cell ensolite or Therm-a-rest
  • * sleeping bag & stuff sack (rated to at least 20 degrees F)
  • 3 large heavy duty plastic bags; can be garbage bags (one for your sleeping bag, one to line your pack, and one to cover your pack in case of rain)
  • A few Ziploc bags or stuff sacks for holding toiletries, clothing, other gear.
  • 2 quart-size water bottles, sturdy; Nalgene is a good idea.
    • Do NOT bring water bottles with attached straws or complex lids.
  • 1 cup, mug, small bowl or sturdy container for eating. Should be able to hold liquids.
  • 1 reusable spoon/spork
  • * headlamp with extra batteries

Personal Essentials

  • chapstick, sunblock, sunglasses
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • small towel
  • contacts, solution, glasses
  • medication (let instructors know)
  • pads, tampons, menstrual cups, etc.


  • 1 to 2 pairs liner socks, synthetic or wool
  • insect repellent (~30% DEET is good)
  • * crazy creek camp chair