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Bare Hill Unique Area

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Bare Hill Unique Area locator map

Bare Hill Unique Area is located about half way between Canandaigua and Naples, near the hamlets of Vine Valley and Middlesex, overlooking Canandaigua Lake from the east side. It has two separate parcels, the southern one covers approximately 298 acres in the town of Middlesex in Yates County and the northern one covers approximately 95 acres in the town of Gorham in Ontario County, for a total of 393 acres.

Tips for Using State Forests


Every year on Labor Day there is a ceremonial lighting of a bonfire to start the "ring of fire" or "The Festival of Lights" in which landowners around the perimeter of Canandaigua Lake light fires in celebration of peace and bountiful harvests.

Hunting and trapping are permitted on the property in accordance with all game regulations, unless otherwise posted. Traps may not be set on public road right of ways. Body gripping traps set on land must be at least 100 feet from public trails. Permanent tree stands are prohibited. However, a tree stand or blind is allowed, provided that it does not injure any trees, is properly marked or tagged with the owner's name and address or valid hunting or fishing license number, and is placed and used during big game season, migratory game bird season, or turkey season, but no more than thirty days in one location per calendar year.

The north end of the southern parcel has one parking area on Van Epps Rd. The northern parcel has road frontage on County Route 11/East Lake Rd, but no designated parking areas.

View from Bare Hill
View from Bare Hill

Geo-caching is allowed although caches must be marked with the owner's contact information and may not be placed in dangerous or ecologically sensitive locations

Today, Bare Hill and all state forests in New York are managed for multiple benefits to serve the needs of the people of New York. Sustainable management practices ensure a perpetual supply of timber, a diversity of wildlife habitats, compatible recreational opportunities and clean water.


In 1788 a group of investors represented by Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham made a deal with the Native Americans to pay $5,500 annually forever. However because of financial problems this contract did not hold for long. In 1789 the land was granted by quick-claim deed to Arnold Potter. After this, Potter offered the land to settlers at very low prices. The area was used to graze sheep and grow crops.

The Park and Recreation Land Acquisition Act of 1960 and the Environmental Quality Bond Acts of 1972 and 1986 contained provisions for the acquisition of state forest lands, unique properties and areas which provide open space or special recreational opportunities. These lands would serve multiple purposes involving the conservation and development of natural resources, including the preservation of scenic areas, watershed protection, forestry, and recreation. The first parcel of Bare Hill Unique Area was purchased in 1989, under the 1986 Bond Act because of its scenic beauty and its legendary ties to the Seneca Indian Nation. The northern parcel was purchased in 2007.

State forests now provide opportunities for many informal outdoor recreational activities. They also provide wood for New York's forest products industry, a major part of New York's economy.

State Forest Regulations

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

  • No hunting for or removal of historical artifacts or remains.
  • 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. All fires must be extinguished with water, and the coals must be raked until cool to the touch.
  • Do not bring firewood from home because this may also transport dangerous invasive pests to the state forest.
  • Unauthorized cutting of live trees or new trail building is prohibited.
  • Camping for more than three consecutive nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a DEC Forest Ranger. /LI>
  • Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream, pond or other body of water except at camping areas designated by the department.
  • Human waste should be buried in a shallow hole 4-6 inches deep, and at least 150 feet from water, trails, and campsites. Cover with leaf litter and dirt.
  • Motorized vehicles are permitted only on access roads posted as open to motor vehicles. Off road use of motorized vehicles is prohibited, except where specifically permitted by signs, posted notice or by DEC permit.
  • No permanent structures should be established, including tree stands or blinds.
  • ATV and UTV use is generally prohibited on State Forests.
  • Individuals with disabilities can apply for a Motorized Access Permit (MAPPWD) to use a motor vehicle on designated roads.


From Naples, take 245 north to Middlesex. Turn left onto north 364, then left onto County Route 10/North Vine Valley Rd. Right onto Bare Hill Rd. and left onto Van Epps Rd. To reach the northern parcel, continue on County Route 10/North Vine Valley Rd to County Route 39/East Lake Rd. That turns into County Route 11 at the County Line.

From Canandaigua, take 364 south to a right onto County Route 10/North Vine Valley Rd. Right onto Bare Hill Rd and left onto Van Epps Rd. To reach the northern parcel, take 364 south to County Route 11/East Lake Rd.

Comments and Suggestions

State forest lands are owned by all New York State Residents and represent a significant natural heritage for future generations. The Department of Environmental Conservation strives to manage these lands for the best long-term interests. We appreciate your help. If you have suggestions on how we can improve the management of these lands, please let us know. Address your concerns to the Division Lands and Forests, DEC Region 8 Bath Sub-Office.

For further information on management activities: Contact State Land Management Working Group, DEC Bath Sub-Office 607-776-2165. (M-F; 8:30 am to 4:45 pm)

Important Telephone Numbers

Fire and Law Enforcement: 585-226-6706 or 911
State Forest Office (M - F; 8:30 am to 4:45 pm) 607-776-2165