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Sugar Hill State Forest

primitive campingrestroomlean-tohuntingtrappinghikingfishinghorseback ridingsnowmobilingfire towerpicnicaccessible featuresparkingicon key

The 9,085-acre Sugar Hill State Forest has the multiple use Six Nations Trail System, the Finger Lakes Hiking Trail, the Sugar Hill Recreation Area, which includes the Sugar Hill Fire Tower, and five lean-tos. Today, Sugar 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 will ensure a perpetual supply of timber, a diversity of wildlife habitats, compatible recreational opportunities and clean water.

Featured Activities

Camping

primitive camping

General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

restroom

The Sugar Hill Recreation Area, located off of Tower Hill Rd, is the largest designated camping area on Sugar Hill State Forest. Available on a first-come first-serve basis is a nine-acre open field for camping, with a limited number of fire rings and picnic tables. Other facilities there include a picnic area with picnic tables, pavilion, accessible horse-mounting platform, open horse stalls, during summer months a restroom with potable water are available, and access to the Six Nations Trail System, as well as the Sugar Hill Fire Tower. The gate is opened to vehicle traffic, and the water turned on, from the 3rd Monday in May through the 3rd Monday in October of each year.

The Lower Evergreen Parking Lot is smaller and has picnic tables, fire rings, open horse stalls and a pit privy. No trash pickup is provided. This is a carry in-carry out facility.

Fifteen additional designated camp sites are located throughout Sugar Hill State Forest. In addition, at-large primitive camping is allowed in this unit, except within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream, pond, other body of water, or otherwise prohibited. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. No trash pickup is provided. These are a carry in-carry out facilities.

lean-to
Lean-to in the trees, benches and fire ring in front.
Buck Settlement Lean-to

Sugar Hill State Forest has five Adirondack-style lean-to's, at four different locations. Lean-to's must be shared to their capacity on a first-come, first-use basis, with no exclusive reservation allowed. Buck Settlement Lean-to on the Finger Lakes Trail north of Templar Road and near Glen Creek; Parks Hollow Lean-to on Mohawk Trail, north of Sugar Hill Road; The Twin Lean-to's (Sugar Hill Lean-to #1 and #2) - on Seneca Trail, south of the Sugar Hill Rec Area; and VanZandt Lean-to - on Seneca Trail, east of Tower Hill Road. No trash pickup is provided. These are a carry in-carry out facilities.

Hunting & Trapping

hunting
trapping

General Information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations. Sugar Hill State Forest offers both small and big game hunting opportunities. White-tailed deer is the primary big game species. Small game include wild turkey, ruffed grouse, pheasant, woodcock, squirrels, cottontail rabbit, and waterfowl. Permanent tree stands and any equipment that damages trees are prohibited.

Hiking

hiking

General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations. Located on the area is a portion of the Finger Lakes Trail (foot traffic only). Maintenance is done by the volunteers of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference (Leaves DEC website) under a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement. It is also a segment of The North Country National Scenic Trail (Leaves DEC website). In addition, the multiple use Six Nations Trail System is a series of loops and spurs, covering about 35 miles.

Fishing

fishing

General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations. Spencer Pond is a one-acre, warm water, man-made pond on Tower Hill Rd.

Snowmobiling

snowmobiling

General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations. The Six Nations Trail System is a series of loops and spurs, covering about 35 miles. Primarily horseback riding during the summer months, and snowmobile in the winter months when there is sufficient snow cover. In addition, hikers and cross-country skiers are welcome to use the trail system. Caution should be taken on some of the steeper sections along the trails. The main trail head is located at the Sugar Hill Rec Area on Tower Hill Road. A portion of the trail system is located on Goundry Hill State Forest. Some maintenance is done by the volunteers of the Trail Tamers Snowmobile Club (Leaves DEC website) under a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

General information on horseback riding includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations. Proof of current negative Coggins certificate is required for all horses and out-of-state horse owners are required to produce a 30-day health certificate. The Six Nations Trail System is a series of loops and spurs, covering about 35 miles. Primarily horseback riding during the summer months, and snowmobile in the winter months when there is sufficient snow cover. In addition, hikers and cross-country skiers are welcome to use the trail system. Caution should be taken on some of the steeper sections along the trails. The main trail head is located at the Sugar Hill Rec Area on Tower Hill Road. A portion of the trail system is located on Goundry Hill State Forest. All horses must have a negative Coggins test. Some maintenance is done by the volunteers of the Trail Tamers Snowmobile Club (Leaves DEC website) under a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement.

Fire Tower

fire tower

General information on fire towers includes historic and current uses of fire towers and links to other locations with fire towers. The Sugar Hill Fire Tower is located in the Sugar Hill Rec Area, and was erected in 1941 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, it is 75 feet tall and was staffed until 1979. The fire tower observation deck is closed, but the stairs up to the top landing are open for climbing at your own risk. It is currently one of the last fire towers in New York State readily accessible to the public and affords a 15-mile view from the top of the stairs. In 1991, it was listed on the National Historic Lookout Register, celebrating its 50th year in existence.

Day Use/Picnic

picnic
restroom

The Sugar Hill Rec Area has a picnic area with tables, charcoal grills, picnic pavilion, and during summer months a restroom with potable water is available. Picnic tables are also located at the Lower Evergreen Parking Lot, but has just a pit privy and nearby stream for water.

Wildlife

General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state. Although there are no facilities developed for viewing wildlife, like many places in New York you are likely to see wildlife on this land. New York's Finger Lakes encompasses a wide variety of habitats and landscapes made up of mountainous hills, forests, grasslands and wetlands. Everything from black bear to black-throated blue warblers and brook trout to wild turkey reside in the Finger Lakes of New York. The grasslands are home to a variety of bird species including northern harriers and state-endangered Henslow's sparrows. White-tailed deer and fisher thrive in the forested hills, while beaver and mink flourish in the wetlands. Outdoorsmen and women from across New York State flock to this area year round for its exquisite wildlife watching and unbeatable hunting.

Accessible Features

accessible features

General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.

The Sugar Hill Rec Area includes a horse-mounting platform, restrooms, paved path, and picnic tables. Picnic tables and an accessible pit privy are available at the Lower Evergreen parking lot.

Individuals with qualifying disabilities may apply for a permit to operate a motor vehicle on trails designated by the NYS DEC. This program is known as the Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD). Sugar Hill State Forest has five trails designated as MAPPWD, A-trail from Sugar Hill Rd south to the power transmission line, A-trail from Evergreen Hill Rd Campsite #2 east and south to Donovan Hill Rd, sections of Onondaga and Seneca Trails adjacent to the Sugar Hill Recreation Area, and Mohawk Trail from Sugar Hill Rd north to the Parks Hollow Lean-to. Due to high use by horses in the summer, and snowmobiles in the winter, trails on Sugar Hill State Forest are only open for MAPPWD use seasonally from September 15th to December 31st and May 1 to 20th. This schedule minimizes conflicts with summer users starting with Memorial Day, and winter users after big game season closes and snowmobiles season starts.

Directions

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Sugar Hill Rec Area Parking Lot - From Schuyler County Route 23 go south on Tower Hill Rd, from Schuyler CR 16 go north on CR 21, then west on Tower Hill Rd. The entrance is on the south side of Tower Hill Rd. (42.390522°N, 77.003308°W) Google Maps (Leaves DEC website).

Lower Evergreen Parking Lot - From Schuyler CR 23 go south on CR 21 then west on CR 16 then north on Evergreen Hill Rd. The entrance is on the west side of Tower Hill Rd. (42.330149°N, 77.023156°W) Google Maps (Leaves DEC website).

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace principles (Leaves DEC website) when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

All users of Sugar Hill State Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Don't Move Firewood. The insects it carries could kill the forests you love.

Specific Rules

Sugar Hill Recreation Area Guidelines:

  • Quiet hours from 10 PM to 7 AM.
  • Clean up after all your animals
  • No pets in bathrooms.
  • No smoking in any buildings, including stalls.
  • No horses in the picnic/Fire Tower area, or the side hill of the camping area.
  • No loose horses, dogs or other pets in the Sugar Hill Recreation Area.
  • No paddocks or electric fencing in camping or picnic area. Paddock and electric fence only in radio tower area.
  • No camper hookups to water spigot or electrical outlets.
  • No littering, use provided trash cans or "carry it in - carry it out".
  • No damaging live trees, including tying horses directly to them.

How We Manage Sugar Hill State Forest

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Six Nations Unit Management Plan (Plan PDF, 296 pages, 17.5 MB). The Six Nations Unit Management Plan is a ten year plan for approximately 21,724 acres of State Forest land in Schuyler and Steuben Counties. It is comprised of ten state forests: Goundry Hill, Sugar Hill and Coon Hollow in Schuyler County; South Bradford, West Hill, Meads Creek, Beaver Dams, Dry Run, and Erwin Hollow in Steuben County; and Cinnamon Lake State Forest in both counties. In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us at r8.ump@dec.ny.gov

Nearby Amenities and Attractions

Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.