Gillies Hill State Forest
- Open for Recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 9 Almond Office: (585) 466-3241 (M-F, 8:00AM - 4:00PM); firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emergency, Law Enforcement & Rangers: (518) 408-5850 or 911
- Location: Towns of Allen and Birdsall, Allegany County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 9P
- Map: View Gillies Hill State Forest Map || View Same Map in PDF (218 KB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
The 2,332-acre Gillies Hill State Forest is named after one of the early settlers on the long north-south ridge that separates the Black Creek and Baker Creek drainages. There are no designated trails but hiking is allowed throughout the property.
In the 1930s, Gillies Hill State Forest was the site of the tree nursery for the Birdsall Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp, S-117. The photo below shows seedling beds on this property. CCC members built and maintained the seedbeds and used the tree seedlings for reforestation purposes.
1937 photo of Red Ash seed beds
Hunting and Trapping
The area is a popular destination for both big and small game hunting, and for trapping. Be sure to abide by all game laws.
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
New York State Snowmobile Corridor Trail C2C passes through the state forest. For more information, visit the website of the New York State Snowmobile Association (leaves DEC website).
General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
There are no designated campsites; however, at-large primitive 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.
Sign at forest entrance
From Interstate 86, take exit 31 and turn right on Peacock Hill Road. Turn right onto East Main Street, which turns into Birdsall Road/Route 16, and continue until reaching the state forest. This road runs past the eastern boundary of the state forest.
There are no designated parking areas on the unit, however roadside parking is available. The state forest is located at (42.367175°N, 77.945923°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 Gillies Hill State Forest
DEC is developing a management plan which will describe the management activities for these lands. In addition to management objectives, the UMP will contain detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.
The forest cover types on Gillies Hill State Forest are a mixture of native hardwood species and planted conifers. The hardwood stands are managed through a series of thinnings which remove the lower quality trees and give more growing space to the best quality trees. The hardwood tops are generally left in place to rot and recycle their nutrients back into the soil. The decaying tops also provide bedding and nesting cover for wildlife such as white-tailed deer and wild turkeys.
Periodic thinnings in the red pine plantations have allowed the native hardwoods to seed into the sunlit openings. Many of the pine stands have reached maturity and the remaining overstory is now being removed to allow the hardwoods to grow to maturity. These "early-successional" hardwood stands provide an important habitat component for a variety of songbird species, as well as ruffed grouse and woodcock.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
State Lands and Facilities
- Bald Mountain State Forest
- Jersey Hill State Forest
- Palmer's Pond State Forest
- Keeney Swamp State Forest
- Gas Springs State Forest
- Hiltonville State Forest
- Karr Valley Creek State Forest
Gas, lodging, food and other supplies, and dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Angelica, Belfast and Hornell.
Allegany County Tourism (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.