Baker School House State Forest
- Primitive Camping
- Nature Photography/Observation
Baker School House State Forest encompasses 1,277 acres and is located in the towns of Freetown and Solon in the middle of Cortland County. Its primitive nature makes it ideal for activities such as hiking, hunting, trapping, bird watching, nature observation, and informal camping. The Finger Lakes Trail winds through the central portion of the forest.
Under Article 9, Titles 5 and 7, of the Environmental Conservation Law, authorization has been given to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) 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.
Most of the land that is now called Baker School House State Forest was originally used for agricultural practices in the 1800s. However, the upland soils of the Allegheny Plateau are thin, relatively steep, and acidic. As such, the ground is not fit for intensive farming. When combined with harsh winters and a short growing season, it is easy to understand why farmers abandoned these lands in pursuit of greener pastures in the Midwest. Therefore, the land was sold to the state in the 1930s to undergo reforestation. Today, DEC foresters manage the forest to provide diverse ecological, economic, and recreational services for all New Yorkers and visitors.
With its wide variety of cover types, including northern hardwood, European and Japanese larch, Norway spruce, red pine and white cedar, Baker School House State Forest provides many different habitats for a collection of wildlife. It is a great place to see wild turkey, white-tailed deer and a variety of song birds.
The forest's wild and rustic character provides excellent hunting and trapping opportunities. Camping is also quite enjoyable, as the seclusion of the forest envelops the senses and whisks you away to a time where life was simpler and quieter.
Baker School House State Forest is part of the Taylor Valley 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.
Baker School House State Forest has a two mile section of the Finger Lakes Trail System running through it. A 1.8 mile Public Forest Access Road provides an easy avenue of approach into the northern section of the forest. There are currently no other designated trails within the forest, however, informal hiking, horseback riding and snowshoeing are welcome.
***Stay Safe- Bring A Friend When Out On The Trails***
Baker School House State Forest may be accessed by taking NY Route 41 to Baker School House Road which runs diagonally through the forest. Parking is limited, but available from the shoulder of the road.
State Forest Regulations
Anyone enjoying the use of this State Forest must observe the following rules which protect them and the forest environment:
- Do not litter. Carry out what you carry in. Burying of refuse is prohibited.
- If you build a fire, do so with care and use wood from dead and downed trees only. Never leave a fire unattended. Three foot radius must be cleared around fire.
- All motorized vehicles are restricted to access roads posted as motor vehicle trails. Off road use of motorized vehicles, such as, trail bikes and four-wheel drives is not allowed, except where specifically permitted by signs, posted notice or by DEC Permit.
- Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of water, roads or trail.
- Permanent structures, including tree stands or blinds, are not allowed.
State Forest Office (M-F 8 am-4 pm): 607-753-3095 ext. 217
Forest Ranger (Law Enforcement/Emergencies): 607-283-1159
DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850