West Hill State Forest
West Hill State Forest is located two miles north of the village of Painted Post, in the town of Hornby, Steuben County.
Recreational opportunities on this state forest focus on rustic experiences with a limited amount of development. Orange rectangular blazes painted on the trees mark the Great Eastern Trail, a branch of the Finger Lakes Trail. The Great Eastern Trail is still a work in progress, but will eventually start on South Bradford State Forest and end in Alabama. Town and county roads provide mountain biking opportunities.
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.
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.
Spring Thaw on West Hill
This forest is somewhat unique in that the softwood plantations are fairly young. The red pine plantation along the east side of West Hill Road is currently suffering an aggressive attack by the Ips beetle. This beetle is also known as the engraver beetle. It forms tunnels beneath the bark which will kill the tree.
There is significant mineral activity immediately adjacent to this forest. The Wilson Hollow gas field is managed by Fortuna Energy, Inc. Sun Logistics owns a petroleum pipeline right-of-way through the southern portion of the forest. Visitors should expect to see natural gas and petroleum pipelines.
The pipeline corridors provide access to portions of the interior of the forest (foot or horseback travel only, please!)
Today, West 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.
State Forest Regulations
Anyone enjoying this property must observe the following rules which protect both 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. 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.
- 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.
The first settlers in the Hornby arrived around 1796 The town was formed in 1826. As noted in numerous other state forest descriptions, agricultural abandonment occurred relatively early (1910-1929) on the hilltop lands of this state forest.
The majority of this property was acquired by the State between 1930 and 1940 under the terms of the Hewett Amendment to the State Constitution and the authority of the Enlarged Reforestation Act. A significant addition was made in the early 1960's using the Parks and Recreation land acquisition bond act. The current size is about 887 acres.
While the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) did conduct activities in this forest, tree planting was not undertaken by the CCC at this location. Most of tree planting was done by Department crews from the mid 1950's to the mid 1960's.
This area was, at one time, much more highly populated than at present. There is a fairly extensive cemetery (West Hill Cemetery) located on private lands near the center of the forest. Immediately adjacent to the cemetery is a school house lot for Hornby District #8.
To gain access to this state forest, from Painted Post, proceed north on West Hill Road. This road bisects the forest.
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