South Bradford State Forest
South Bradford State Forest is located eight miles southeast of Bath, near the hamlet of South Bradford, in the Allegheny Plateau. It is located in the town of Bradford, Steuben County and the town of Orange, Schuyler County.
Recreational opportunities on this state forest focus on rustic experiences with a limited amount of development. The Finger Lakes Trail provides good access to the interior of the forest. There is a very attractive lean-to located along the Finger Lakes Trail in the southwest portion of the forest. The Great Eastern Trail heads south from the lean-to, and when finished will terminate in Alabama.
Town and county roads provide mountain biking opportunities. Hunting and trapping are also popular activities.
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.
The only ATV trails that exist are for persons with disabilities - pursuant to the Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD). Individuals with qualifying disabilities may apply for a permit to operate an ATV on trails designated by the NYS DEC. A permit must first be obtained from the DEC. Dennis Road trail, from the intersection of the CCC road southerly to the state forest boundary is a MAPPWD trail.
Full listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations.
State Sign on South Bradford
As many of the plantations established by the CCC and inmates reach the end of their natural life (75-100 years of age), it is reasonable to assume that it will all begin to decline at nearly the same time, and in the process convert to natural hardwood stands. As this decline intensifies, salvage timber sales of some of these areas will probably be necessary.
As noted above, this forest also has significant mineral activity. The McNutt Run natural gas field and the Meads Creek natural gas field are managed by Fortuna Energy, Inc. Visitors should expect to see natural gas wellheads and pipelines. The pipeline corridors provide excellent access to the interior of the forest (foot or horseback travel only, please!)
Today, South Bradford and all state forests in New York are managed for multiple benefits to serve the needs of the people of New York. Sustainable forestry 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.
This area was settled beginning in approximately 1793. The town of Bradford was formed in 1836. As noted in numerous other state forest descriptions, agricultural abandonment occurred relatively early (1910-1929) on the hilltop lands occupied by this state forest.
This is one of the first state forests in Steuben County, the initial purchases were made in 1932 of proposals A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I for a total of about 1,007 acres. One indication of the poor economic times, is that proposal A was purchased from the Rochester Savings Bank, not an individual. Additional acres were added in 1936-1939, 1941 and 1945 under the Reforestation Act. In 1964 about 81 acres was added under the Park and Recreation Land Acquisition Act. The current size is about 1,819 acres.
Between 1938-1941 most of the existing hardwood stands on South Bradford State Forest were thinned by CCC crews. In the late 1930's Dennis Rd was connected to Van Fleet Rd by a Truck Trail constructed by CCC crew, at least part of this new road followed and upgraded existing farm lanes. In addition they planted over 1.7 million tree seedlings on South Bradford State Forest in 1935, 1940 and 1941. A great deal of experimental planting was carried out on this unit, with stands of Douglas fir, and Siberian larch surviving to the present. A considerable quantity of black cherry was also planted, although very little has survived.
This area has also been involved in mineral extraction. Natural gas wells were drilled in the 1940's. There has been a great deal of gas exploration and development on this unit within the last five years as well.
To gain access to this state forest from Bath, take State Highway 415 heading south. In the village of Savona turn onto State Route 226, heading north. In the hamlet of Sonora turn onto County Route #18, heading east. At the four corners in the center of the hamlet of South Bradford, continue nearly straight ahead onto Dennis Road, which gives access to the center of 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