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Summer Hill State Forest

primitive campingfishinghuntingtrappingsnowmobilingsnowshoeingcross country skiinghorseback ridingicon key

Summer Hill State Forest locator map

Summer Hill State Forest encompasses 4,355 acres of dense forest land. Some of the more popular recreational activities include hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing, snowmobiling and horseback riding. There are no specifically designated hiking trails on this property but hiking is allowed anywhere on State Forests unless posted otherwise.

Featured Activities


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.

Hardwood stand in Summer Hill State Forest



General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations.

Fishing access information for the area is available.

Fishing easements information for the area is available.

Hunting & Trapping


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

The heavily wooded landscape of Summer Hill State Forest is what makes it ideal for hunting and trapping.



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

There is a 28-mile snowmobile trail that runs through Summer Hill State Forest, partly on seasonal town roads and partly in the forest.

Cross-country Skiing& Snowshoeing

cross country skiing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all trails.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

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

Horseback riding has grown in popularity within the forest, and an informal trail system is currently in existence. However, since this area can become very wet at times, the season of use is limited to May through October.


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

Almost completely forested, the area provides protection and solace for an estimated 51 mammal species, 126 bird species, 20 species of reptiles, and 23 species of amphibians. A full listing of wildlife species confirmed or likely to be present in Summer Hill State Forest and surrounding areas can be found in the Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands Unit Management Plan which is available for review at the Lands and Forests Office in Cortland


Summer Hill State Forest may be accessed by taking NY Route 90 to Toll Gate Road, Lick Street, Salt Road or Dresser Road.

Route 90 and Locke Summerhill Townline Road (42.64542°N, 76.36599°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website) principles 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 Summer Hill 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.

The horseback riding season is limited to May through October. Horse Back riders may not ride during wet conditions.

How We Manage Summer Hill State Forest

Article 9, Titles 5 and 7, of the Environmental Conservation Law authorize the Department of Environmental Conservation to manage lands acquired outside the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. Management, as defined by these laws, includes watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, recreation and kindred purposes.

DEC foresters are charged with the responsibility of managing State Forests to enhance and maintain a diverse and healthy forest ecosystem for society and wildlife. As such, forest management is strategically employed to develop a balanced mix of young, middle-aged, and old (late successional) forest types, as well as to provide the public with compatible recreational activities.

Summer Hill State Forest is part of the Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands Unit Management Plan. A Unit Management Plan (UMP) guides the DEC's land management activities on several geographically related forests for a ten-year period, although a number of goals and objectives in the plan focus on a much longer time period. Each UMP addresses specific objectives and actions for public use and forest management.

Summer Hill State Forest is comprised of several different cover types, including northern hardwood, hardwood-hemlock, white pine, red pine, Norway spruce, and white spruce

The first settlers on or near the Hewitt- Cayuga Highlands arrived in 1792 in the town of Niles and later traveled to Moravia, Locke, Sempronius, Scott, and Summer Hill. Nathaniel Fillmore, one of the first to settle in Summer Hill, was the father of U.S. President Millard Fillmore.

The majority of Summer Hill State Forest was purchased by the state in parcels during the 1930's. During this period, lands that had once been cleared for agriculture were restored to forests in an attempt to counteract the crashing economy and loss of jobs. The planting of trees not only created new job opportunities for hundreds of young men, but the forest products themselves would restore the hope to hundreds.

The forest is said to have been named as such because it was a place that people only wanted to be in the summer. Whereas the winter brought extremely cold temperatures, a retreat into the hills during summer provided cool relief to the sun's intense heat.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us at info.r7@dec.ny.gov.

Nearby Amenities and Attractions

Bear Swamp State Forest

Cayuga County Tourism Webpage (Leaves DEC website)

Gas, food, dining and lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Homer and Cortland.

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.