Pine Hill State Forest
Please Note: Hotchkiss Ridge Forest Road is temporarily closed during muddy spring weather conditions. Road traffic under saturated, muddy conditions can degrade the surface. Roads will reopen as soon as spring conditions improve. Check here for updates.
Pine Hill State Forest, also known as Cattaraugus Reforestation Area #9, totals 1,139 acres. This state forest is located in the towns of South Valley and Randolph in Cattaraugus County. The most common recreational uses of this area are hunting, hiking, horseback riding, and snowmobiling.
State Forests are managed for multiple uses. Forests provide raw materials for New York's forest products industry, a source of employment and income for many New Yorkers. They are managed for wildlife so that species such as deer, rabbit, grouse and turkey may thrive in various habitats. They are also managed to provide recreational opportunities and to protect watersheds.
In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, carried out various projects at Pine Hill State Forest. The CCC, established by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, provided employment opportunities for young men during the Great Depression. Projects included road construction and the planting of thousands of pine, larch and spruce trees in the open areas on the property.
Pine Hill State Forest has a number of old fields that were planted with conifer trees. A CCC water hole exists on this property. When trees were planted in old fields, grass fires were always a threat to the new plantation. Rock lined water holes were created to provide a water supply for fire fighting, and in some instances tree watering.
For more history on this unit, visit the Painted Hills Genealogy Society web page for South Valley (link in the right column of this page). It includes cemetery records and more local history.
This area has been and will continue to be managed to provide a variety of habitat. Presently there is only a small amount of young forest habitat. The majority of the unit contains mostly stands of larger trees. Some stands are two different ages and thus provide two levels of canopy.
Conifer - The stands of pine, larch and spruce were planted in old farm fields that offered open areas with direct sunlight necessary for these trees to thrive. These stands have been or will be converted to hardwoods by removing the conifer overstory and allowing the hardwood seedlings that usually exist in these stands to grow to maturity. Areas that contain or have a good potential to grow white pine will be managed for large white pine in a mix of hardwoods with some hemlock. In Cattaraugus County white pine stands are not common except in plantations. White pine weevil has reduced this species from a valuable timber tree to a tree that is retained only for its wildlife habitat potential.
Hardwood - Hardwood trees are not usually planted because they spread vast amounts of seed and naturally regenerate. Thinning of the 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 future crop trees.
Some stands will contain large trees that appear to be old growth. In almost all cases, they are not. These stands have been harvested prior to state ownership, or managed during state ownership to favor large trees. Many other stands are mature and ready to regenerate into new stands. Thinning stands and removing the overstory promotes regeneration of new seedlings.
Forests on this property are called "Alleghany Hardwood" types, which are made up of mainly oak, maple, yellow poplar, basswood, and black cherry. These tree species require sunlight on the forest floor so new tree seedlings can sprout and grow into large timber sized trees. However, sometimes unwanted tree species like American beech tend to take over forest stands because of its ability to quickly propagate itself by root sprouts. This tree species crowds out more desirable tree species like black cherry and oak by forming dense thickets that shade out competing seedlings. Eventually, American beech will decrease tree species diversity in the forest. It can also affect other forest vegetation like wildflowers such as trilliums and dutchman's britches.
When beech becomes a problem, the land manager must make a decision on how to best treat the beech stems to get them under control. The land manager uses tools like herbicide applied directly to the beech stem after cutting it. The stem then "sucks" the herbicide into its root system and kills it and any root sprouts that are attached to the stem. This spot treatment method of herbicide application keeps other sensitive native forest vegetation like trilliums and desirable tree seedlings intact and unharmed. It also virtually eliminates any runoff that may occur. All herbicides must go through an extensive approval process and are only applied by licensed applicators. When beech stems die off, the desirable tree species can access the light and growing space they need to survive.
Forest stands that contain oak species may require fire or other disturbance to maintain this forest type. Oak stands may not be as valuable for timber as other species, but they should be maintained none the less. Oak stands provide diversity on the landscape and provide mast (nuts, seeds, acorns, etc. produced by woody plants) for wildlife. Most oak stands in Cattaraugus County are "Transition Oak" stands that are dominated by red oak and red maple. Maples will eventually replace the oaks over time if no effort is made to reverse this process. Oak stands provide important wildlife habitat and food. Therefore, the continuation of oak stands in this forest is necessary. Oak regeneration requires a heavy acorn crop, bare mineral soil, plenty of sunshine and little competition from other species. Oak has been maintained for centuries by native people by burning. Lack of fire has allowed other species like maple to take over areas that were once oak and chestnut. Chestnut sprouts may still be found clinging to life on this property, but the species has been reduced to shrub height by chestnut blight.
All horse trails can be used for hiking. There are no designated trails on the property.
All trails are open at this time, please be cautious of wet areas on the trails as it has been a wet year. At junction C, (Zig Zag and Pine Hill Trail) there was recent logging, so these trails can be muddy at times as well.
Horseback riding is a popular activity on this
state forest unit.
The New York State Horse Council Trail System is located on this unit. A large parking lot has been constructed at what locals call "Pineapple Junction" off Carr Corners Road in the Town of Randolph (see map link above for location). Parking is available for a number of large horse trailers. This area can also be used for camping with self contained units. To get to this parking area you can either use Pierce Run Road or Sarver Road, do not use Oldro Hill road due to poor road conditions for horse trailers. Sarver road is a climb in places but it is paved to the Carrs Corners Road intersection making for a smooth transport. Pierce Run Road is gravel and is ok for transport but can be muddy during certain times of the year.
The horse trails can also be used for hiking during dry times of the year. The long term goal is to have a multiple use trail that is a nice hike as well as a horse trail. These trails are a work in progress and take many hours of volunteer labor. The New York State Horse Council has been working to expand the trail system to cover more of this State Forest Management Unit. 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.
Keep in mind some parts of the trail system may be closed due to wet and muddy weather, or during tree harvest operations. The trail will be posted at the entrance with a "trail closed" sign and if an alternate route is available it will be posted.
Organized trail events require a Temporary Revocable Permit prior to the event. These can be obtained at the Dunkirk DEC Office and by calling 716-363-2052.
Part of the Cattaraugus snowmobile trail system runs through this forest on Pierce Run Road, which dead ends at the Horseshoe Inn in Onoville. This trail is maintained by the Elibomwons snowmobile club. For more information, please visit the Cattaruagus County web page which has trail maps and information.
Hunting, Fishing and Trapping
Hunting is allowed on Pine Hill State Forest. Terrain can be rugged in some areas so walking up and down hills is part of the hunting experience.
Fishing is permitted at two ponds in the forest. They are located off Oldro Hill Road near Sarver Road.
Trapping is 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.
Skiing and snowshoeing
The horse trails on the north part of this unit near Pineapple Junction are suitable for cross country skiing. Trails to the south end of the property have steeper slopes.
There are no bike trails on this property, but forest roads can be used.
Campsites are available at a fist come, first serve basis at Pineapple Junction, however if there is a large horse trail riding event sites are usually all taken. Other campsites exist on the property near roads and are designated by Yellow "Camp Here" signs. Campsites are available off of Hochkiss Forest Road, one is on Sarver Road, and one is on Oldro Hill road. Refer to map links at the top of the page for general locations. Individuals may also 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 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.
Snow Snakes, an ancient Seneca sport, has been played on this unit.
Access for People with Disabilities
There are no special access trails on this property. View accessible recreation destinations elsewhere in New York.
Tips for Using State Forests
Anyone enjoying this property must observe rules which protect both people and the forest environment.
From Route 86, take the Randolph Exit and drive east on Route 394 to Larkin Street. Take a right turn to the south. Drive to the end of Larkin Street and turn right onto Archer Hill Road. When you reach Pine Hill Road turn left (south) and follow this to Pierce Run Road. The intersection with Pierce Run Road is on a sharp curve, so be careful! Drive south on Pierce Run Road. To get to Pineapple Junction, take a left turn onto Carr Corners Road. Pineapple Junction and Hotchkiss Ridge Forest Road are at the top of the hill. If you stay south on Pierce Run Road, it will take you to Perimeter Road or Onoville Road.
Dunkirk Sub-office: (716) 363-2052
For emergencies, search and rescue, wildfire, or state land rules and regulation enforcement, call a Forest Ranger:
Or you can reach the Forest Ranger general dispatch number at: (877) 457-5680
General Emergencies: 911