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Ossian State Forest

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Ossian State Forest locator map

Ossian State Forest is located two miles northeasterly of the hamlet of Swain, in the town of Ossian, Livingston County. It is approximately 1,303 acres in size.

Tips for Using State Forests


Recreational opportunities on this forest focus on rustic experiences with a limited amount of development. There are no formally designated trails. There is a developed camping area at Evergreen Pond, along Scoville Road. Tables and fire rings are provided. This is a carry in-carry out facility.

Some of this forest will require significant walking to access. There is also a significant mileage of state forest administrative access roads which are open to public access during good weather.

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.

Pair of brown horses pulling a cart with a log attached, on snow.
Horse Drawn Log Skidding on Ossian

The western portions of this forest are somewhat more remote and will require significant walking to access. This area includes the headwaters of Hovey Gully, a classified trout stream.

This forest shares a long common boundary with Rattlesnake Hill State Wildlife Management Area and also has a common boundary with a parcel of Allegany County forest lands. As regulations differ between these areas, users should remain cognizant of which unit they are on.

Today, Ossian 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 Ossian probably arrived around 1800. The town was formed in 1808. The town of Ossian was formed from the town of Angelica in Allegany County. The town of Ossian became part of Livingston County in 1856. 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 forest was acquired under the terms of the Hewett Amendment to the State Constitution and the terms of the Enlarged Reforestation Act. The majority of the acquisition took place between 1932 and 1938. The current size is about 1,303 acres.

Prior to acquisition by the State, a portion of this forest was logged by narrow gauge railroad for a variety of products, including lumber, hemlock bark for tannery use and "chemical wood" used in manufacturing alcohol.

This forest was acquired during the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) era, and the CCC conducted significant tree planting activities on this area between 1936 and 1939. Species planted include red and white pine, Norway and white spruce, Japanese, European, Siberian, and Dunkeld Larch. Planted softwood makes up a significant part of this forest. The CCC was also active in numerous other activities, including fire control, and road building and maintenance.

The DEC is presented with an interesting problem on this forest. Since most of the softwood was planted at nearly the same time, it is reasonable to assume that it will all begin to decline at nearly the same time. This process is beginning to happen. As this decline intensifies, salvage sales of some of these areas will probably be necessary.


To gain access to this forest from State Route 436 near the village of Dansville, head west on Ossian Hill Road to the hamlet of Ossian. Continue west on Linzy Road. Turn left (south) onto Scoville Road. This will give access to the east side 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