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Otsquago State Forest

Otsquago State Forest locator map

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The 411-acre Otsquago State Forest is named after Otsquago Creek, which starts roughly at the Otsego-Herkimer County line. Interestingly, this creek descends 1,100 feet over a distance of 17 miles. This creek played an important role in the early history of this area. Many Native American villages were built along its banks. There were also skirmishes and battles of the Revolutionary War that took place nearby. The waterpower, provided by the creek, ran mills in every village it flowed through. Otsquago Creek obtained its name from the Mohawk tribe and translates to, "under a bridge." The state forest was created for the purpose of reforestation, wildlife management, timber production, recreation and watershed protection.

Featured Activities

Hiking
hiking

General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

The unit has no marked foot trails at this time, making it ideal for the recreationalist who enjoys recreational activities in a primitive forest setting.

Camping

primitive camping

General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

At-large primitive camping is allowed. Campsites must be at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail or body of water. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.

Hunting & Trapping

hunting trappingGeneral Information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations

WildlifeGeneral information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

Wildlife found on the property include white-tailed deer, porcupines, grouse, coyotes, turkeys, songbirds and other small game species.

Directions

From Van Hornsville travel east on Wiltse Hill Road. Turn left (north) onto Wagner Hill Road. The state forest's boundary line is about 0.5 mile northeast of the intersection. There are no official or maintained parking areas on this property; however, Wagner Hill Road, which runs through the center of the property, has pull-off opportunities along the sides.

  • Wagner Hill Road unmaintained pull-off area (42.903469°N, 74.781594°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

All users of Otsquago State Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Specific Rules

Mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and horseback riding are all permitted on the property, however, there are no currently maintained trails for these activities.

How We Manage Otsquago State Forest

DEC is developing a unit management plan (UMP) which will describe the management activities for these lands. In addition to management objectives, the UMP will contain detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

Otsquago terrain features hilly, rocky terrain with numerous small streams and ravines. Some scenic views can be had from the hilltops. It has tranquil, rolling woodlands which contain a mixture of plantations and natural forests of hardwoods and conifers. The plantations on the property are comprised primarily of red spruce, Norway spruce, white pine, red pine and Japanese larch. Natural forests on the property include but are not limited to American beech, red oak, aspen, black cherry, bass wood, hemlock, bitternut hickory, white ash, red maple, white pine and yellow birch.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us information.r6@dec.ny.gov.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

DEC Lands & Facilities

Information regarding where to find amenities:

  • Gas, dining opportunities, lodging, food and other supplies may be found in the nearby communities of Van Hornesville, Fort Plain, Little Falls, Herkimer, and Richfield Springs.

Herkimer County Chamber (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

Although there are no opportunities to fish on this state forest you may want to check out the Van Hornesville Fish Hatchery, just about 3 miles away from Otsquago State Forest. The hatchery raises rainbow trout, with production totaling about 30,000 pounds a year. They are open year round, weekdays, from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM. The main building was built as a donation from Owen D. Young (noted industrialist, lawyer, diplomat and philanthropist, born in Van Hornesville) with leftover material that was used to build the nearby school. There is more information on the New York Traveler website (leaves DEC website).

Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores and on-line booksellers.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.