Michigan Hill State Forest
Michigan Hill State Forest (Tioga #8) encompasses 1,209 acres of land in the town of Richford in the northern portion of Tioga County. The forest provides numerous opportunities for recreational activities that are enjoyed within a primitive and remote setting, such as hunting and trapping. Fishing is also quite enjoyable off of Route 38.
Michigan Hill State Forest, like many of New York's state forests, was once cleared and farmed by European settlers and Revolutionary War Veterans. Unfortunately, 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 more fertile property in the Midwest.
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. To reduce soil erosion, protect water quality, provide forest products and recreational opportunities, the State of New York started acquiring many of these abandoned properties during the 1930's and planted significant numbers of trees on the land returning them to forest. Today, the land has been transformed to forest which provides diverse ecological, economic, and recreational services for New York residents and visitors.
Michigan Hill State Forest is a great place to experience the look and feel of an undeveloped managed forest. The landscape of the area is a dense mosaic of different cover types, including oak, red pine, and spruce. However, the ice storm that hit the area in 2003 also created early successional habitat for plants and animals to flourish in.
Early successional seedling/sapling sized forest provides critical habitat for a suite of birds that require young, dense vegetation for breeding, nesting, and foraging. The list of birds that inhabit the forest include: the ruffed grouse, American woodcock, white-throated sparrow, American goldfinch, Rufous-sided towhee, chestnut sided warbler, yellow warbler, blue-winged warbler, white-eyed vireo, alder flycatcher, willow flycatcher, least flycatcher, hermit thrush, brown thrasher, Indigo bunting, gray catbird and, of course, the wild turkey.
There currently is a cooperative effort, between NYS DEC, USDA-NRCS, and Pheasants Forever-Southern Tier Chapter, to provide habitat for pheasants on the forest. Approximately 45 acres are maintained as grassland and pheasants are released on a yearly basis.
Mammals such as the red fox, gray fox, white tailed deer, eastern cottontail, woodland vole, eastern chipmunk, woodchuck, southern bog lemming and the meadow jumping mouse can all be found within the early forest habitat. There are also 42 species of reptiles and amphibians confirmed or predicted in the area, including the red back salamander, eastern hellbender, pickerel frog and the painted turtle.
Of special interest, John D. Rockefeller, of the former Standard Oil Company, was born in he town of Richford. The foundation of his childhood home is located adjacent to Rockefeller Road on land that is now part of Michigan State Forest, and is marked by a sign which designates the historical site.
***Stay Safe- Bring A Friend When Out In The Forest***
To get to Michigan Hill State Forest take NY Route 38 between Hartford and Richford. There is a fishing access site on the east side of the highway. The eastern side of the forest is also accessible by taking NY Route 200 east from NY RT 38. Travel about 0.5 miles and then turn right onto Michigan Hill Road; the forest is on the right/west side. Parking is limited but available off of the shoulder. south toward Harford Mills, and turn onto NY Route 200. Travel about 1/2 mile and then turn right onto Michigan Hill Road; the forest is on the right/west side. Parking is limited but available off of the shoulder.
State Land 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):607-798-1797
DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850