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Michigan Hill State Forest

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Michigan Hill State Forest locator map

Recreational Activities

  • Primitive Camping
  • Car Top Boa Launch
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Fishing
  • Hunting, Wildlife Management Unit 7R
  • Nature Photography/Observation
  • Snowmobiling
  • Trapping

Background Information

Michigan Hill State Forest encompasses 1,180 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.

There are 0.5 miles of snowmobile trails that pass through Michigan Hill State Forest's boundaries.

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 24 species of reptiles and amphibians confirmed or predicted in the area, including the red back salamander, pickerel frog and the painted turtle.


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.

Field Notes

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.

Looking up at a pine tree stand in Michigan Hill State Forest

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. Approximately 45 acres are maintained as grassland and pheasants are released on a yearly basis.

Of special interest, John D. Rockefeller, of the former Standard Oil Company, was born in the 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.

In the future, Michigan Hill State Forest will be part of the Rockefeller 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 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:

  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):607-798-1797

DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850

Emergencies: 911