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Hoxie Gorge State Forest

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Hoxie Gorge State Forest locator map

Recreational Activities

  • Accessible Trail
  • Primitive Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Hunting, Wildlife Management Unit 7M
  • Nature Photography and Observation
  • Snowmobiling
  • Trapping

Background Information

Hoxie Gorge State Forest encompasses 2,115 acres of land and is located in the towns of Freetown and Virgil in the middle of Cortland County. It has six miles of snowmobile trail, designated as a secondary 5S trail by the NYS Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It also has a portion of the Finger Lakes Hiking Trail located within its boundaries. Public Forest Access Roads off of Steve Russell Hill Road provide an additional 2.6 miles of recreational access. There are also two separate segments of accessible trails for those with impaired mobility.

The thick and protective cover types of this forest, including northern hardwood, European and Japanese larch, Norway spruce, red pine and white cedar, create a safe haven for a varied collection of wildlife. Wild turkey, foxes, white-tailed deer, and an interesting array of song birds and small mammals are just some of the creatures the visitor may see. The forest is also known to have large populations of ruffed grouse, which are particularly fond of the early successional habitat found in the forest.


Hoxie Gorge was originally used for agriculture in the 1800's. However, due to poor soil conditions and short growing seasons, the land became damaged, unproductive and undesirable and was therefore sold to the state in the 1930's for reforestation. Article 9, Titles 5 and 7, of the Environmental Conservation Law authorizes 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. Today, with the help of DEC foresters, Hoxie Gorge State Forest provides a wide variety of recreational, economic, and ecological services for the people of New York State.

Field Notes

While the actual gorge for which Hoxie Gorge is named is located to the north of the forest, the stream that runs through the gorge does indeed begin within its boundaries and continues to wind peacefully through the property. Certain sections of the woods are so rich and dense that they have the ability to make travelers feel as if they are in another world.

Hoxie Gorge 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.

***Stay Safe- Bring A Friend When Out on the Trails***


tree stands in the foreground and mountain peak in the back

Hoxie Gorge State Forest may be accessed by taking NY Route 11 to Hoxie Gorge-Freetown Road. To reach the southern portion of the forest (Cortland #14), follow Hoxie Gorge-Freetown Road to Marihew Road, and then to Steve Russell Hill Road. Parking is available along the shoulder of the road but is limited.

State Forest Regulations

Anyone enjoying the use of this State Forest must observe the following rules which protect them and the forest environment:

  1. Do not litter. Carry out what you carry in. Burying of refuse is prohibited.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Permanent structures, including tree stands or blinds, are not allowed.

Important Numbers:

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

Emergencies: 911