Fairfield State Forest
- Primitive Camping
- Hiking, Informal
- Nature Photography/Observation
Fairfield State Forest encompasses 815 acres of land in the town of Candor in northern Tioga County. It offers opportunities for recreational activities that are best enjoyed in remote, relatively undisturbed natural forest areas such as hunting, trapping, primitive camping, and snowmobiling.
Fairfield State Forest offers approximately 1.6 miles of formal snowmobile trails. Additional access is provided by a 2.0 mile public forest access road and by Jenksville Hill Road, a seasonal town road (not plowed) that cuts through the forest. To help preserve the rustic character of the area, no formal marked trail networks are currently planned. Feel free to hike the many informal trails and old farm lanes that can be found throughout the forest.
The forest contains a wide variety of habitats which support a moderate diversity of wildlife species including mammals, reptiles, amphibians such as the Allegheny dusky salamander, and birds including at least twelve species of warblers. Many game species, such as deer, turkey, grouse, raccoon, mink and fox are also quite common. An abundance of plant life also flourishes within the woods, such as tree clubmoss, painted trillium, and Christmas fern. Interesting plants such as the pink lady's slipper and blue cohosh can be found on the forest. Please don't pick the plants; they are protected by the Environmental Conservation Law. Target shooting is prohibited on this state forest.
The land that is now known as Fairfield State Forest was sold to the State of New York between the years 1932 and 1940, with an additional purchase in 1962. Like many of New York's State Forests, the land had originally been cleared and farmed by European settlers and Revolutionary War Veterans. Unfortunately, the soils common in the area are 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 quite understandable that farmers abandoned these lands in pursuit of greener pastures in the Midwest. In order to reduce soil erosion, protect water quality, provide forest products and recreational opportunities, the State of New York started acquiring property during the 1930's and planted many trees on it.
The Department of Environmental Conservation, under Article 9, Titles 5 and 7, of the Environmental Conservation Law, has been given authorization 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. More than 434,000 tree seedlings were hand planted at Fairfield State Forest by the Cornell Civil Conservation Corps(CCC) Camp in 1934. In 1938, the Slaterville Springs CCC Camp S-125 hand planted 30,750 more trees. The Conservation Department planted an additional 18,7000 more seedlings in 1963 using only a tractor and spade. Thus, the land that encompasses what is now known as Fairfield State Forest has been restored to forest and today provides diverse ecological, economic, and recreational services.
Informal and quiet by nature, Fairfield State Forest lies within the Central Appalachians ecological subzone, characterized by oaks on southern slopes, mixtures of hardwoods, and hemlock in the ravines. Fairfield State Forest is part of the Tioga 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.
From Ithaca: Take NY Route 79 southeast for about 14 miles; at West Creek Road make a right turn and travel south for about 4 miles, then bear right into the hamlet of Speedsville. At the corner of Old Route 76 (in Speedsville), make a left and continue south on West Creek Road for about 1 mile; make a right on Legge Hill Road and travel southwest (uphill) for about 1 ½ (1.5) miles. Stay straight and the road intersects Lathrop Road (a farmhouse and barn is at the intersection). The entrance to Fairfield State Forest Public Access Road is on the left about 1/3 (0.3) of a mile south from the intersection of Legge Hill Road and Lathrop Road. Parking is available from the shoulder of the road.
From Interstate 81: Take exit 8 at Whitney Point and travel west on NY Route 79 for about 15 miles (you will pass the hamlet of Richford and NY Route 38). Stay straight on NY Route 79 and proceed to West Creek Road; make a left turn a follow the directions above. Parking is available from the shoulder of the road.
State Land Regulation Section
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): 607-798-1797
DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850