South Valley State Forest
- Open for Recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 9 Allegany Office: 716-372-0645 (M-F, 8:00AM - 4:00PM); firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emergency, Law Enforcement & Rangers: 1-877-457-5680 or 911
- Location: Town of South Valley, Cattaraugus County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 9R
South Valley State Forest totals 4,227 acres and is made up of two units, known as Cattaraugus Reforestation Area #2 and #3. The most common recreational uses of this area are hunting, hiking, horseback riding, and snowmobiling. The south boundary of Cattaraugus #3 is the Pennsylvania state line.
In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, carried out various projects at South Valley 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.
Part of the raceway from a water powered sawmill
Cattaraugus #2 was one of the first properties obtained by the state for the creation of state forests in Cattaraugus County. This property was home to many people in the past. There are a number of water powered saw mill sites on Cattaraugus #2 and the saw mill bases, raceways, dams and spillways are still visible on this property. These mills were water-powered and used the old style saws that went up and down. Later, with the advent of steam power and round saw blades, these mills became obsolete.
Water power from these mills was also used to grind flour and to provide power for other types of mills, such as shingle mills like the one formerly located on Phillips Brook. A series of saw mills once sat on South Branch Sawmill Run Creek and two have been found on state land on North Branch Sawmill Run Creek. Another mill operated at what used to be the southern end of Phillips Brook Road. This area has been taken over by beavers and is now a wetland, as is the former mill pond off Little Bone Run.
A gravestone in the South Valley Catholic
Cemetery, dated 1883
The remains of an Irish community, including the old South Valley Catholic Cemetery that dates back to the mid-to-late 1800s, can be found along what is now Gurnsey Road. The cemetery is not state owned, but the surrounding land is. Please be respectful of grave stones and be aware you are on private property.
Rocks have been piled up in some areas off Sawmill Run Road that resemble small castles. The castles may represent a creative reuse of the stones that were removed to make way for farm fields. These fields are now forested.
For more history on this unit, visit Painted Hills Genealogy Society (leaves DEC website) for South Valley. It includes cemetery records and more local history.
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
There are no designated hiking trails on the property, but all horse trails can be used for hiking.
General information on horseback riding includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
A new horse trail off Bone Run Road that travels over the hill to Sawmill Run parking area is under construction and is currently closed. Please check back for updates.
Horseback riders enjoy a trail on the South
Valley State Forest property.
The New York State Horse Council (leaves DEC website) maintains a trail system on this unit that connects with neighboring Pine Hill State Forest. The Council's long term goal is to create a multiple use trail that provides opportunities for hiking and horseback riding. This is a work in progress. The Council has been working to expand the trail system to cover more of this state forest. Trails are planned to minimize impacts to the forest environment and to not conflict with other management objectives.
Keep in mind that some parts of the trail system may be closed due to wet and muddy weather or active tree harvest operations. If this happens, the trail will be posted at the entrance with a "trail closed" sign and an alternate route will be posted if available.
For information on parking for horse trailers, go to the Directions section of this page.
Organized trail events require a Temporary Revocable Permit for use of the trails prior to the event. These can be obtained online or from DEC's Allegany Office by calling 716-372-0645.
Hunting and Trapping
Hunting and trapping are allowed on South Valley State Forest in accordance with all game regulations, unless otherwise posted. Terrain can be rugged in some areas, so keep in mind that walking up and down hills will be part of the hunting experience. 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.
South Valley State Forest is adjacent to the Allegheny Reservoir Wildlife Management Area on Bone Run Road which offers pheasant hunting during pheasant season. See more information on the Pheasant Release Program and release dates.
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
There are no designated trails for snowmobiling but town roads can be used.
General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules and regulations.
There are three streams on this unit that are annually stocked with brown trout in the spring: Bone Run which runs along Bone Run Road, South Branch Sawmill Run (Gurnsey Run) which runs along Gurnsey Hollow Road, and North Branch Sawmill Run which runs along Sawmill Run Road. For more information on stocking dates please visit our Fish Stocking page. Please abide by all state fishing regulations.
Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing
General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
The horse trails on the northern part of this unit are suitable for skiing and snowshoeing. The trails to the south have steeper slopes.
General information on biking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
There are no bike trails on this property but horse trails and roads can be used for biking.
General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
There are three designated camp sites on this property: two on Phillips Brook Forest Road and one on Sawmill Run Road. All are identified with a yellow camp disk (shown at right). They are available on a first come, first served basis.
At-large backcountry camping is also 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.
From Frewsburg: Take exit 14 from Interstate 86 and head south on Route 62 for about 8 miles to reach Frewsburg. Take either Frew Run Road (County Route 34) which becomes Sawmill Run Road when it enters Cattaraugus County, or Bone Run Road which intersects Route 62 just north of Frewsburg.
From Steamburg: Take exit 17 from Interstate 86 and head south on West Bank Perimeter Road which intersects with several roads that enter the state forest - Bone Run Road, Sawmill Run Road or Brown Run Road.
There are several parking areas located throughout the state forest. The best access for horse trailers is at the parking area at Pineapple Junction on neighboring Pine Hill State Forest, or at the parking area on Little Bone Run Road which accommodates horse trailers for day use only. This trailhead parking area gives access to the Rocky Top Trail. Phillips Brook Road is not a good road for horse trailers as it is very narrow and the turnaround area is very small at the dead end.
All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.
- Little Bone Run Road south parking area with horse trailer parking (42.064395°N, 79.004469°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
- Little Bone Run Road north parking area (42.066223°N, 79.007674°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
- Brown Run Road parking area (42.009781°N, 79.007521°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
- Phillips Brook Road turnaround parking area (42.066619°N, 78.98342°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
- Bone Run Road parking area (42.052612°N, 78.998486°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
- Sawmill Run Road parking area (42.030741°N, 78.976667°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety
Practice Leave No Trace Principles (leaves DEC website) 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 South Valley State Forest
DEC has developed a Draft Cattaraugus Unit Management Plan which describes the proposed management activities for these lands. In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.
This area has been managed to provide a variety of habitats. At this time there is only a small amount of young forest habitat. A healthy landscape has a mosaic of habitat types, including young forests, and supports a diversity of wildlife. The majority of the unit contains mostly stands of larger trees, but some stands have two levels of canopy, indicating trees of different ages. Management for a variety of habitats will continue.
South Valley State Forest is adjacent to the Allegheny Reservoir Wildlife Management Area on Bone Run Road. This area has some open habitat with mowed fields. The state forest has a small amount of wetland habitat and a good amount of upland forest habitat. Cattaraugus #2 has some large natural white pine and oak stands. They will be maintained and managed when possible. More young stands will be created as mature stands regenerate.
South Valley State Forest is managed for multiple uses such as public recreation, timber production, wildlife habitat and watershed protection.
The forests in this unit are under a sustainable management program designed to produce timber crops, maintain diverse wildlife habitat and provide recreational opportunities while protecting water quality and aesthetics. As an added bonus, many access roads and trails are created on this unit while implementing various timber management practices. These access improvements are widely used by recreationalists to access this remote property.
The stands of pine, spruce and larches were originally planted in old abandoned farm fields as a conservation measure in the 1930s to control soil and water runoff. These conifers are usually managed by a series of partial thinnings followed at the end of the growing cycle by an overstory removal. The previous thinnings allow the necessary sunlight into the forest stand to encourage the growth of native hardwood seedlings. The removal of the overstory in the final harvest allows the hardwood seedlings to grow toward maturity. The conifer wood is used for construction lumber, poles and pulp.
The vast majority of this forest is made up of native hardwoods tree which regenerate naturally on site. Periodic thinnings are prescribed for these hardwood forests through the sale of forest products to improve growing space for the remaining trees. This helps to keep the forest healthy while providing openings for new seedling growth, a constant supply of food for wildlife and a source of future forests.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
State Lands and Facilities
- Pine Hill State Forest
- Allegheny Reservoir Wildlife Management Area
- Allegany State Park (leaves DEC website)
Gas can be found in the nearby communities of Falconer, Frewsburg, Jamestown, Randolph and Steamburg.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Falconer, Frewsburg, Jamestown and Randolph.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Falconer, Frewsburg, Jamestown, Randolph and Steamburg.
Lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Falconer, Jamestown and Randolph.
Cattaraugus County Tourism (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.
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.