O'Hara State Forest
- Open for recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 7 Cortland Office: (607) 753-3095 M-F 8 am- 4 pm, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emergency, Law Enforcement & Rangers: (518) 408-5850 or 911
- Location: Williamstown and Orwell (Oswego County)
- Wildlife Management Unit: 6K
- Map: View O'Hara State Forest Map || View Same Map in PDF (140 KB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
O'Hara State Forest encompasses approximately 2,398 acres of land. Activities enjoyed here include hunting, hiking, trapping and nature observation.
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations. There is one 3/4-mile hiking trail off O'Hara Road, which is seasonally maintained. Hiking is also allowed anywhere unless posted otherwise.
General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
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.
General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations.
Hunting & Trapping
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Snowmobiling may be enjoyed during winter months on a road that runs through the forest. A snowmobile corridor trail crosses the property on the seasonally maintained O'Hara Road.
Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing
General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.
General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.
General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.
There is a 3/4-mile trail off O'Hara Road that allows motorized access for people with mobility impairments. A permit is required through the Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities. The trail is gated and parking can be found along the town road. This trial doubles as a hiking trail in good weather.
To get to O'Hara State Forest- Oswego 9, take NY Route 13 to O'Hara Road which runs through the property. To get to O'Hara State Forest- Oswego 10, continue on O'Hara Road to County Route 17, then turn onto County Route 2 which hugs the lake and connects with Dam Road from which parking and boat access are located. Alternatively, to go straight to Oswego 10 take Exit 36 off of I-81(Pulaski) and follow County Route 2 to Dam Road. Parking is available at each of the sections of the forest, however, it is limited to the shoulder of the road.
O'Hara Road (43.5033397,-75.8323916) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety
Practice Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website) principles 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 O'Hara State Forest
O'Hara State Forest is part of the Upper Salmon River 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. Management actions will be guided by the UMP once completed. If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us email@example.com.
O'Hara State Forest is comprised of mature natural hardwood and northern hardwood-hemlock cover types. Red maple, black cherry, white ash, sugar maple and hemlock are the major hardwood species of the forest. Conifer plantations scattered throughout the forest, consisting of mainly white pine and red pine testify to the great work of the Civilian Conservation Corps which planted these species during the 1930's. It is because of this heavily wooded landscape that O'Hara State Forest is an ideal location to enjoy both hunting and trapping.
A large wetland complex occupies between over 100 acres of land, providing swamp- like habitat for a diverse range of plant and animal life. This wetland area further adds to the value of the forest, and makes O'Hara State Forest an incredible asset for the people of New York State.
The responsibility of managing State Forests to enhance and maintain a diverse and healthy forest ecosystem for society and wildlife lies with the Department of Environmental Conservation foresters. As a direct result, forest management is strategically employed to develop a well balanced mix of young, middle-aged, and old (late successional) forest types that will continue to enhance the environment, as well as provide society with compatible recreational opportunities.
The land that now comprises O' Hara State Forest was originally used for farm land and timber products by European settlers and Revolutionary War Veterans. Unfortunately, poor soils and extremely cold weather did not provide for ideal farming conditions. Shale and sandstone rocks provided a rocky terrain and soils were highly acidic. Excessive erosion and prolonged freezing and wet periods frustrated many farming attempts. As a result, frequently crops and fields were abandoned as farmers moved to the Midwest in pursuit of better land.
The State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 set forth new legislation that authorized the Conservation Department to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation areas. These State Forests, consisting of no less than 500 acres of contiguous land were to be "forever devoted to reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon of forests for watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, recreation and kindred purposes" (Article 9, Title 5, Environmental Conservation Law).
O'Hara State Forest was purchased under this program by New York State during the 1930s. During this period, lands all over the state that had once been cleared for pasture and farm land were restored to forests. Reforestation reduced the problem of soil erosion, protected water quality and provided forest products and recreational opportunities. Today, O'Hara State Forest provides many different ecological, economic and recreational services for the people and wildlife in New York State.
Nearby Amenities and Attractions
Oswego County Tourism Office (Leaves DEC website)
Gas, food, dining and lodging may be found in the nearby community of Pulaski.
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.