Morgan Hill State Forest
- Open for recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 7 Office: (607) 753-3095 M-F 8 AM- 4 PM, email, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emergency, Law Enforcement & Rangers: (518) 408-5850 or 911
- Location: Fabius in Onondaga County, Truxton and Cuyler in Cortland County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 7M
- Map: View Morgan Hill State Forest Map || View Same Map as a PDF (824 KB) || Spruce Pond Map (PDF) (53 KB) ||Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
Morgan Hill State Forest is a popular area because of its accessibility from the Syracuse and Cortland areas. The forest's 5,284 acres includes the Morgan Hill State Forest Multiple Use Trail System which has been designed to offer many different opportunities for family-based recreation. Activities include: hunting, hiking, fishing, camping, bird watching, informal cross-country skiing, informal mountain biking, informal horseback riding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing.
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
There are 11.2 miles of marked foot trails which connect the western part of the forest with Labrador Hollow Unique Area, and then continue east as part of the Finger Lakes Trail System (leaves DEC website) and is also the North Country National Scenic Trail (leaves DEC website) in this portion of NY. In addition, there are 11.5 miles of Public Forest Access Roads that run through the forest. These are best accessed during the summer and the fall.
General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Primitive camping at Spruce Pond requires a permit from the Cortland Lands and Forests office (607-753-3095 ext. 217, M-F 8-4) and one must camp only at one of the 12 designated sites.
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 (518) 408-5850.
General information on paddling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations.
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Winter recreation is encouraged with over 18.7 miles of snowmobile trails.
Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing
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 hiking trails.
General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.
The forests boasts a wide variety of mammals, song birds, raptors, and amphibians.
General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.
There are two trail sections that allow motorized access for people with mobility impairments. A permit is required through the Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities.
From NY 80 or NY 91, Morgan Hill State Forest may be accessed from Shackham Road. The forest may also be accessed by taking NY 13 toward Truxton, NY, and Route 91. Continue past RT. 91 about 1.0 mile and then turn left onto Morgan Hill Road which runs into the southern portion of the forest and becomes a Public Forest Access Road.
MAPPWD Parking off Morgan Hill Road (42.767846°N, 75.997552°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Herlihy Road Parking (42.799217°N, 76.025689°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.
How We Manage Morgan Hill State Forest
Morgan Hill State Forest is part of the Hill and Hollow 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. If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us email@example.com.
The upland forests range from 1,200 to 2,000 feet in elevation, with several small valleys and creeks intermittently bisecting the almost completely forested landscape.
Conifers comprise a significant portion of the forest. Native hardwoods and hemlock trees, however, dominate the remainder of the landscape, contributing a vast array of potential habitats for many different species. This is the backdrop which provides for great hunting, camping, hiking and bird-watching. Land management actions will be guided by the Hill and Hollow Unit Management Plan which is currently being developed.
Morgan Hill State Forest was originally used by the Iroquois for extensive hunting. Later the land was cleared for farming by Revolutionary War Veterans and early European settlers. The area's soils, however, are thin, relatively steep and acidic, and the growing seasons are short with long, harsh winters. This combination of factors resulted in land that was mostly unproductive and that would eventually be abandoned in pursuit of more productive lands in the Midwest.
The State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 were created by the Roosevelt Administration as a means for the state to take over the responsibility of managing abandoned farms, making them productive once more. Morgan Hill State Forest was one such area. The forest was established in the early 1930's by state foresters and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) with the planting of 4,840,424 conifer seedlings. Today, the approximately 70 year-old conifer forest covers more than forty-five percent of the area. The forest provides diverse ecological, economic, and recreational services to hundreds of people each year.
Nearby Amenities and Attractions
Cortland County Tourism Webpage (Leaves DEC website)
Gas, food, dining and lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Tully 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.