Newfield State Forest
- Primitive Camping
- Hunting, Wildlife Management Unit 7R
- Nature Photography/Obseration
Newfield State Forest encompasses 1,552 acres and is located in the town of Newfield in southwestern Tompkins County on a hilltop that sits high above Pony Hollow. It is a perfect place for activities that can be enjoyed in a primitive forest setting, such as hunting and nature observation. The State Forest is part of a block of nearly 14,000 acres of public open space managed by the DEC. The forest is connected to the DEC managed Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area which covers over 11,000 acres.
There are no formal trail networks within the forest. Many game species, such as white tail deer, fox, turkey, raccoon, mink and squirrel are found to be quite abundant within the forest's boundaries, making hunting, nature observation especially enjoyable.
Present day Newfield State Forest was cleared and farmed by European settlers and Revolutionary War Veterans. The pace of settlement and commerce increased after the Civil War with the arrival of the Geneva, Ithaca and Sayre railroad in 1871. The first sawmill in the village of Newfield was built in 1809, followed by a gristmill machine in 1811. Unfortunately, the hilltop soils of the area are often thin, relatively steep and acidic. As such, farmers found that the hilltop lands were not fit for intensive crop farming; the soils quickly lost productivity once cleared of trees. Originally part of the Watkins and Flint purchase, about 1,443 acres of the Newfield State Forest (nearly 93%) was acquired from the federal government in January of 1956. From 1933 to 1937, as part of the Roosevelt Administration's New Deal, the federal government purchased about 8 million acres in the Southern Appalachians through what was called the sub-marginal land purchase program. The program purchased land with limited crop production capacity such as the Newfield State Forest and in some cases promoted the resettlement of farm families whose lands had been bought by the federal government.
The Federal lands were planted with trees by the Civilian Conservation Corps., becoming part of the state forest system in 1956. The Department of Environmental Conservation under Article 9, Titles 5 and 7, of the Environmental Conservation Law, has been given authorization to manage lands acquired outside the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. Management, as defined by these laws, includes watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, recreation and kindred purposes. In the last several decades, time and deliberate management have transformed the Newfield State Forest into valuable open space, providing many different ecological, economic and recreational services for the people of New York State.
Primitive and undeveloped, Newfield State Forest is a great place to enjoy a relatively undisturbed forest setting. A transmission gas line bisects the forest and provides a customarily traveled route for man and critter.
In the future, Newfield State Forest will be part of the Newfield 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.
Located about 11 miles south of the City of Ithaca, Newfield State Forest is accessible from NY Route 13. From NY Route 13, turn east on Bull Hill Rd. for about 0.7 miles. Parking is available along the side of the road at the intersection of Bull Hill and Chaffee Creek roads (geographic coordinates 42.31833 N and -76.65242 W). Bull Hill and Chaffee Creek roads are not plowed.
The southeast part of the forest can be accessed by going south in the village of Newfield on Van Kirk Road and taking a right onto Irish Hill Road. Parking opportunities are available, but are limited mostly to the shoulder of the road.
State Forest Regulations
Anyone enjoying the use of this State Forest must observe the following rules which protect them and the forest environment:
- Do not litter. Carry out what you carry in. Burying of refuse is prohibited.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Permanent structures, including tree stands or blinds, are not allowed.
State Forest Office (M-F 8 am-4 pm): 607-753-3095 ext. 217
Forest Ranger (Law Enforcement/Emergencies): 607-798-1797
DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850