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Kettlebail State Forest

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Kettlebail State Forest locator map

Kettlebail State Forest (Cortland #5) encompasses 588 acres and is located in the towns of Fabius and Truxton in Northern Cortland County. The forest has only two designated formal trails within its boundaries; however, it is connected to Labrador Hollow Unique Area as well Morgan Hill State Forest and offers a greater degree of diversity for the recreational user.


Kettlebail State Forest was originally used as an extensive hunting ground by the Iroquois. The land was later cleared for farming by Revolutionary War Veterans and early European settlers. To the dismay of many farmers, the area's soils are thin, relatively steep and acidic, and the growing seasons are short with long, harsh winters. Intensive agricultural practices only led to damaged, undesirable and unproductive land that became too costly to manage. Eventually, many farmers abandoned their upland farm properties in pursuit of better farmland in the Midwest.

The State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 were created by the Roosevelt Administration as a means for the state to take over the responsibility of managing abandoned farms, making them productive once more. Kettlebail was purchased in parcels by the State of New York in the early 1930's to undergo reforestation efforts. Department foresters and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) worked diligently to re-establish the land as forest, and, with the planting of 1,468,631 conifer seedlings, their hard work was successful. Today, the landscape has been transformed into forest and now provides diverse ecological, economic, and recreational services to hundreds of people each year.

Field Notes

Aster in Kettlebail State Forest

The composition of Kettlebail State Forest includes northern hardwood, northern hardwood-hemlock, and conifer coverings. This densely wooded area provides a secluded forest atmosphere that is perfect for activities that can be enjoyed within a remote setting, such as hunting, trapping, informal camping and hiking.

Wildlife and plant life are both encouraged to flourish within this managed forest. Game species such as deer, grouse, squirrels and turkey are quite plentiful, making these woods a favorite place for hunting. Informal camping is a great way to take advantage of the natural beauty within the woods. Be sure to keep an eye out for the different song birds that fly through the forest, as many species, both rare and common, have been observed in the area.

DEC foresters are charged with the responsibility of managing State Forests to enhance and maintain a diverse and healthy forest ecosystem for society and wildlife. As such, forest management is strategically employed to develop a balanced mix of young, middle-aged, and old (late successional) forest types. Kettlebail State Forest is part of the Hill and Hollow Unit Management Plan. A Unit Management Plan (UMP) guides the DEC's land management activities on several geographically related forests for a ten-year period, although a number of goals and objectives in the plan focus on a much longer time period. Each UMP addresses specific objectives and actions for public use and forest management. Land management actions will be guided by the Hill and Hollow Unit Management Plan.


Kettlebail State Forest currently has a 1 mile section of the hiking trail twisting through it. The trail connects with Labrador Hollow Unique Area, as well as Morgan Hill State Forest, to provide the person with a diverse range of landscape and sceneries. There is also a 1.1 mile section of snowmobile trail running through the forest that eventually connects to the trials on Morgan Hill State Forest.

***Stay Safe- Bring A Friend When Out On The Trails***


Kettlebail State Forest may be accessed by taking NY Route 80 to Truxton Road, then turning onto Kettlebail Road.

State Forest Regulations

Anyone enjoying the use of this State Forest must observe the following rules which protect them and the forest environment:

  1. Do not litter. Carry out what you carry in. Burying of refuse is prohibited.
  2. If you build a fire, do so with care and use wood from dead and downed trees only. Never leave a fire unattended. Three foot radius must be cleared around fire.
  3. All motorized vehicles are restricted to access roads posted as motor vehicle trails. Off road use of motorized vehicles, such as, trail bikes and four-wheel drives is not allowed, except where specifically permitted by signs, posted notice or by DEC Permit.
  4. Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of water, roads or trail.
  5. Permanent structures, including tree stands or blinds, are not allowed.

Important Numbers:

State Forest Office (M-F 8 am-4 pm): 607-753-3095 ext. 217

Forest Ranger (Law Enforcement/Emergencies): 607-283-1159

DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850

Emergencies: 911