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Sonyea State Forest

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Sonyea State Forest locator map

Sonyea State Forest is located one mile southerly of the hamlet of Sonyea, in the towns of Mount Morris, Groveland, and West Sparta, all in Livingston County. It is approximately 921 acres in size.

Tips for Using State Forests


Recreational opportunities on this area focus on rustic experiences with a limited amount of development.

The Keshequa Gorge occurs along the western boundary of this state forest. Within the gorge are remains of the Genesee Canal and of a major branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The old railroad grade/canal tow path offers the best access by foot along the bottom of the gorge.The Genesee Valley Greenway(GVG) generally follows the route of the Genesee Canal. However, in the Keshequa Gorge difficulties with access and high water eroding the old rail bed away means that an alternate route for the GVG is needed, this re-routing is still in progress.

Most of this forest will require significant walking to access. Users should exercise caution in the Keshequa Gorge area.

The eastern portions of this property are somewhat more remote and will require significant walking to access. This area includes the headwaters of Two Mile Creek.

Rock Cliff on Sonyea
Rock Cliff in Keshequa Gorge on Sonyea SF

This forest shares a common boundary with Groveland Correctional Facility. As regulations differ between these areas, users should remain cognizant of which unit they are on.

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.

Today, Sonyea and all state forests and multiple use areas 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 town of Groveland probably arrived around 1792. The Clinton-Sullivan Expedition was certainly in this area much earlier. The town was the site of the Boyd-Parker ambush and the "torture tree" incident. The town was formed in 1798. The first settlers in the town of West Sparta probably arrived around 1795, and the town was formed from the town of Sparta in 1846.The first settlers in the town of Mount Morris probably arrived around 1795 and this town was formed from the town of Leicester in 1818.

This forest was acquired by interagency transfer from the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene. It was a part of the former Craig Colony.

The current size is about 931 acres. Prior to acquisition by the DEC, this area had been administered by the NYS Department of Mental Hygiene as a epileptic colony and state mental hospital. Many remnants of the Craig Colony, the Genesee Canal and Pennsylvania Railroad remain on the state forest.


To gain access to this forest from the hamlet of Sonyea, proceed west on State Route 36. Make a left on Ridge Road, stay left on Moyer Road, turn left onto Dutch Street. Follow Dutch Street south to the hamlet of Tuscarora. Turn left on Presbyterian Road, and then left on Union Corners Road, which dead ends in the forest.

Important Telephone Numbers

Fire and Law Enforcement : 585-226-6706 or 911
State Forest Office (M - F; 8:00 am to 4:00 pm) 607-776-2165