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Swift Hill State Forest

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Swift Hill State Forest locator map

Swift Hill State Forest covers a total of 1,569 acres. The forest contains a mixture of native hardwood species and planted conifers

The area was settled in the early 1800's. Much of the land now comprising the state forest was cleared for agriculture, but by the early 1900's much of the worn-out farmland was being abandoned and reverting once again to forest. After State acquisition in the 1930s, the fields were planted with a variety of conifers by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

The former Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad bed borders the forest on its eastern boundary (which accounts for the long curve in the boundary line). This railroad, which ran from Buffalo to Wellsville and on into Pennsylvania, operated for only about a decade, from 1907 to 1916. A large concrete culvert still exists under the railroad bed, just outside the State Forest boundary.

Hikers enjoy trails through Swift Hill State Forest

Featured Activities

Hunting and Trapping


General information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules and regulations.

The area receives a great deal of use for both small game and big game hunting. 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.



General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

The Finger Lakes Trail (leaves DEC website) passes through the northern part of this state forest and can be used for hiking and other recreational activities. This trail is part of the larger trail network of the North Country Scenic Trail (leaves DEC website).

Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing

cross-country skiing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

The Finger Lakes Trail (leaves DEC website) can also be used for snowshoeing and skiing, but keep in mind that some of the terrain can be challenging for these activities.



General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

New York State Snowmobile Corridor Trail 3B passes north-south through Swift Hill State Forest. The New York State Snowmobile Association (leaves DEC website) has additional information about snowmobiling.


primitive camping

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.


Swift Hill State Forest lies between the hamlets of Centerville and Rushford and is accessible from County Route 23 and several town roads.

From Interstate 86, take exit 28 and head north on Route 305 for 1.7 miles. Turn left onto North Shore Road and in 0.6 miles, stay to the right to continue on Mt. Monroe Road. Follow this for 8.4 miles, then turn right onto Hardys Corners Road (Route 7B) and continue for 1.9 miles. In the town of Rushford, continue left onto Lower Street at the fork, then continue straight for 4.2 miles. Turn right onto Weaver Road to enter the state forest or continue straight on Rushford Road to reach the Finger Lakes Trail parking area on the right.

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

  • Finger Lakes Trail parking area (42.458305°N, 78.249666°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Handcock Road north parking area (42.469595°N, 78.234528°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Handcock Road south parking area (42.441888°N, 78.234582°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Turk Forest Road parking area (42.446900°N, 78.221383°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.

All users of Swift Hill State Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

How We Manage Swift 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.

Timber Management

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

Gas can be found in the nearby communities of Arcade, Fillmore and Pike.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Arcade, Fillmore and Houghton.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Arcade, Fillmore, Houghton and Pike.
Lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Arcade, Fillmore and Houghton.

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.