Bear Creek State Forest
Bear Creek State Forest, also known as Cattaraugus Reforestation Area # 12, is a small state forest of 547 acres. This state forest is located in Cattaraugus County in the town of Machias. The most common recreational uses of this area are hunting, hiking, snowmobile riding and horseback riding.
State Forests are managed for multiple uses. They provide raw materials for New York's forest products industry, which provides employment for many New Yorkers. They provide various habitats for wildlife. State forests also provide recreational opportunities and watershed protection.
In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) carried out a number of projects at Bear Creek State Forest. The CCC, established by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, provided employment opportunities for young men during the Great Depression. Projects included the planting of thousands of pine, larch and spruce trees in the open areas on the property. A small number of oaks were planted as well, which continue to exist on this state forest and others.
The old Bear Creek Road was replaced by the Upper Bear Creek Road, and the old road is now part of the state forest. Only the western end still exists as a haul road. This property was mostly farm land at one time. At least one house was located on Lower Bear Creek Road.
There were a number of stream crossings on Bear Creek Road that were difficult to maintain. This led to the construction of Upper Bear Creek Road and the abandonment of the old road. A power line crosses the property that predates state ownership.
Upper Bear Creek forest road is not open to motor
vehicles but can be used for other recreation.
Conifer - The stands of pine were planted in old farm fields as they need open areas with direct sunlight to thrive. These will be converted to hardwoods by removal of the conifer overstory and allowing the hardwood seedlings that usually exist in these stands to grow to be a new hardwood forest. Since much of this property was old field planted to conifer there have been some major conifer removal projects on this property. The removal of non native conifer species will continue as rapidly as possible. Some planted conifer stands will be retained on steep slopes and near Bear Creek.
Hardwood - Hardwood trees are not usually planted as they spread vast amounts of seed and naturally regenerate. Thinning of the hardwood 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 source of future crop trees. Bear Creek State Forest has a limited number of hardwood stands. Most of this property was old farmland that was planted to conifer. The hardwood stands on this property are even aged stands that grew up out of areas that were pasture. These will be thinned and grown to provide some mature forest habitat. Some oak plantations were mixed with the conifer. These will be retained if they do not blow down.
The area has been managed to provide young forest habitat. It contains a mix of sizes and species of trees. Management for a variety of habitats will continue.
Bear Creek State Forest offers a number of opportunities for recreation.
The North Country trail crosses this property. It begins and ends near the gates on Mann Road and Upper Bear Creek Road. The trail leads up to the top of the hill, follows along the top of the hill, then heads back down to the road. The Finger Lakes Trail Club and Foothills Trail Club have adopted this trail.
A snowmobile trail enters and leaves the south end of the property. The Cattaraugus Snowmobile Federation has adopted this trail.
A horse trail adopted by Creekside Roundup follows the old Bear Creek Road and is marked in blue trail markers. It does not provide a loop on this property, but roads can be used to make a loop if desired.
Trails are planned to minimize impacts to the forest environment and to not conflict with other management objectives while providing a pleasant and interesting ride.
Coordinators of organized trail events need to obtain a Temporary Revocable Permit for use of the trails prior to the event. These can be obtained at the Allegany office.
Hunting, trapping and fishing
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.
Fishing is not a major activity on this unit, but Bear Creek may provide fishing in the spring.
Skiing and snowshoeing
All trails may be used.
This is not a major activity on this property. There are no suitable trails.
Camping is allowed at Bear Creek State Forest. There are no formal camp sites on this property, however individuals may set up camp at any location which is at least 150 feet from water bodies, streams, roads or trails. Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger (see phone numbers below).
Geo-caching is allowed although caches must be marked with the owner's contact information and may not be placed in dangerous or ecologically sensitive locations.
Access for People with Disabilities
There are no special access trails on this property.
Individuals with disabilities can apply for a Motorized Access Permit (MAPPWD) to use a motor vehicle on designated roads. The permit is available from the Accessible Recreation web page by clicking the MAPPWD link in the right column.
Tips for Using State Forests
Anyone enjoying this property must observe rules which protect visitors and the forest environment.
From Franklinville take Rt 16 north to Bear Creek Road. Turn left onto Bear Creek Road and drive for about 1 mile. Look for the yellow gate on Lower Bear Creek Forest Road. This road is not open to motor vehicles.
Allegany DEC Forestry Office (M-F 8-4 p.m.): 716-372-0645
Questions about emergencies, search and rescue, wildfire, or state land rules and regulation enforcement may be directed to a Forest Ranger:
Or you can reach the Forest Ranger general dispatch number at: 1-877-457-5680
General Emergencies: 911