Panama State Forest
- Open for Recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 9 Dunkirk Office: (716) 363-2052 (M-F, 8:00AM - 4:00PM); firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emergency, Law Enforcement & Rangers: 1-877-457-5680 or 911
- Location: Town of Harmony, Chautauqua County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 9J
- Map: View Panama State Forest Map || View Same Map in PDF (181 KB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
Panama State Forest spans 1,224 acres. This forest offers numerous recreational opportunities including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and bird watching. It also provides habitat to a variety of wildlife species.
In the 1930s, Panama State Forest was the site of many work projects carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC. The CCC, established by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, provided employment opportunities for young men during the depression. CCC projects within Panama State Forest included the planting of thousands of pine and spruce trees in the forest's open areas.
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
The Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail (leaves DEC website) runs through 1.2 miles of Panama State Forest. The Parks Division of the Chautauqua County Department of Public Works and the Chautauqua County Parks Commission are responsible for trail maintenance. Only biking, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are allowed on the trail - no motor vehicles or horses.
Organizers of trail events need to obtain a Temporary Revocable Permit for use of the trails prior to the event. These can be obtained at the Dunkirk DEC Office at the number at the top of the page.
General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
At-large backcountry camping is allowed. Campsites must be at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail or body of water. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.
Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing
General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
Allowed on the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail (leaves DEC website) and throughout the property.
General information on biking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
Allowed on the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail (leaves DEC website).
Hunting and Trapping
Hunting and trapping are allowed within Panama State Forest. Please be sure to abide by all game laws.
General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.
Panama State Forest is home to various wildlife species, including white tail deer, ruffed grouse, rabbit, raccoon, and turkey. There are also occasional fox, mink and bear sightings. The abundance of different habitat types created by forestry management within the property make Panama State Forest an ideal location for wildlife viewing. The forest also provides habitat for a variety of songbirds, especially near heavily harvested areas where there is thick seedling-sapling cover.
General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.
There are five access roads off of Goshen Road that make Panama State Forest accessible to hunters with disabilities. These roads are (listed from North to South):
- Austin Access Road - 0.30 miles
- Wiltsie Access Road - 0.36 miles
- F. Steves Access Road - 0.89 miles
- Tanner Access Road - 0.71 miles
- Sanford Access Road - 0.32 miles
A permit is required through the Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD). These permits can be obtained by contacting DEC's Dunkirk office at the number at the top of the page. With this permit, the designated roads above can be accessed using motor vehicles. Otherwise these access roads are closed to public traffic.
From Panama, take County Route 10 (Rock Hill Road) west for 1 mile, then turn left onto Goshen Road. Continue south for about 0.5 miles. Panama State Forest is on both sides of the road as indicated by signs.
There are no designated parking areas on the unit but roadside parking is available. The state forest is located at (42.052895°N, 79.499507°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.
How We Manage Panama State Forest
DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Chautauqua Unit Management Plan. In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.
Hardwood and conifer timber management is actively practiced at Panama State Forest. The forest's stands of pine and spruce trees were planted in old farm fields as they need open areas with direct sunlight to thrive. They are usually managed by a series of partial harvest thinnings. These thinnings provide openings of sunlight to encourage natural regeneration of native hardwoods. The removal of the conifer overstory in the final harvest allows the hardwood seedlings to grow to maturity.
Hardwood trees are not usually planted as they spread vast amounts of seed and regenerate naturally. Periodic thinning of the forest through the sale of forest products gives the residual trees more growing space. This helps to keep the forest healthy and provides openings for new seedlings, a revolving supply of food and cover for wildlife, and a source of future crop trees. While some stands contain large trees and give an illusion of old growth, these stands were actually harvested prior to state ownership.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
State Lands and Facilities
Dining opportunities, gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Clymer and Jamestown.
Lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Clymer, Panama and Jamestown.
Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.
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.