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Bush Hill State Forest

Bush Hill State Forest locator map

hikingprimitive campinghuntingtrappingfishingcross-country skiingsnowshoeingicon key

The 3,278-acre Bush Hill State Forest provides many outdoor recreational opportunities, the most common of which are hunting and hiking.

In the 1930s, Bush Hill was the site of many work projects carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC, established by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, provided employment opportunities for young men during the depression. CCC projects included the construction of roads and the planting of thousands of pine, larch, and spruce trees in the open areas on this property.

water hole with steps constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps

Some conifer trees were planted by school children on the former Union Free School district #1 property around 1939. This property was located somewhere north of Clark Road and is now part of state ownership. This plantation area was supposed to be set aside as a "School Forest." Today there is no way to tell which trees these might be or even if they still exist.

Water holes were constructed by the CCC to provide water for fire protection of young plantations and in some cases to water trees. Some of these rock-lined water holes still exist on this unit. A nice example that can be visited today is a water hole with stone steps that is located near the Hardy Corners Road log landing.

Most of this property was cleared farm land at some time in the past, before state ownership. The remains of old stone foundations for houses and barns and rock-lined water wells are all the evidence that can be found of these today.

Maple syrup production was a common farm activity in this area. The remains of "sugar arches" that were used to make maple syrup can be found in some parts of the forest. These consisted of large metal pans built over a rock base. A wood fire was built under the pan to boil sap.Recreation

Featured Activities



General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

The North Country Scenic Trail (leaves DEC website) passes through this unit and is maintained by the Finger Lakes Trail Conference (leaves DEC website). The trail crosses Bush Hill State Forest from Harwood Lake and travels east roughly parallel with the Fox Cross Forest Road and exits the property on Stebbins Road. Trail location may vary due to timber harvesting.

Organized trail events require a Temporary Revocable Permit for use of the trails prior to the event. These can be obtained by contacting the Allegany DEC Office at (716) 372-0645.


primitive camping

General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

There are 11 designated campsites on the unit that are all available on a first come first serve basis: 9 along Fox Cross Forest Road, 1 on Palmer Road, and 1 on Peet Hill Road (see map for camp site locations). They are tent sites only. Sites are designated with a yellow, round camp marker sign. The sites are primitive tent sites with a fire ring and one parking space. You are allowed to build a small fire using dead and down wood only.

campsite marker

Roadside camping on the unit is only allowed at these designated sites; however, at-large primitive camping is allowed throughout the property. 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.

Hunting and Trapping


General Information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.

Hunting and trapping are allowed on Bush Hill State Forest. Naturally occurring forest disturbance and active forest management on the unit has created some diverse wildlife habitats. Forest roads that were built as a result of timber harvesting operations provide good access for hunting.



General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations.

Bush Hill doesn't have any opportunities for fishing but shoreline fishing is allowed on Harwood Lake in the neighboring Harwood Lake Multiple Use Area. The lake has brook trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch, brown bullhead, bluegill and pumpkinseed.

Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing

cross-country skiing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

The North Country Scenic Trail (leaves DEC website) can be used for snowshoeing and skiing.


road with grassy edges which are good chick rearing habitat for turkey and grouse
Clark Road provides grassy edges for chick
rearing habitat for turkey and grouse.

General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

This area has been managed to provide a large amount of young forest habitat. New aspen stands that will provide grouse habitat are located off the Fox Cross Forest Road. Other mixed stands of hardwood (maples, ash, black cherry, and oaks) and conifer (spruces and pines) are nearing the stage where the stand canopy will soon fill in and shade the understory. Forest stands have been recently cut on this state forest, making young forests consisting of mixed hardwood and conifer that are just beginning to grow. After these young stands begin to mature, more forest blocks will be cut to create new young forest stands. This type of forest management ensures a variety of habitats are available for wildlife while keeping lumber production economically and ecologically sustainable. Some wildlife that might be seen on the unit are white-tailed deer, grouse, turkey, fox, squirrel and coyote.


From Franklinville take Route 16 north, then a right on Route 98 east and another right onto Bush Hill Road. Turn right on Peet Hill Road for access to Fox Cross Forest Road and the North Country Trail on Bush Hill State Forest or continue on Bush Hill Road to the trail head parking lot on Farmersville State Forest. Other roads that access Bush Hill State Forest are Palmer Road, Clark Road (seasonal road access from the west end only), County Road 46 (Hardy Corners Road) and Stebbins Road.

The unit itself doesn't have any designated parking areas but roadside parking is available. The state forest is located at (42.3775959°N, 78.3579633°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website). The neighboring Harwood Lake Multiple Use Area has a 24-car parking area at the hand launch site (42.384950°N, 78.379652°W) 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.

All users of Bush Hill State Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

How We Manage Bush Hill 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 & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us at

Timber Management

State Forests are managed for multiple uses. They provide a source of raw material for New York's forest products industry which provides employment and income for many New Yorkers. They are managed for wildlife by the creation and maintenance of various habitats for many wildlife species such as deer, rabbit, grouse, turkey and songbirds. Forests are also managed to provide recreational opportunities and watershed protection.

Conifer - The stands of pine, larch and spruce on the unit were planted in old farm fields as they need open areas with direct sunlight to thrive. These have been or will be converted to hardwood tree species by harvesting the conifer overstory and allowing the hardwood seedlings (maple, ash, cherry, and oaks) that usually exist in these stands to grow to maturity. Many of the conifer stands on this unit are at a high risk of blowing down in storm events because the trees are tall and mature. These trees that were planted by the CCC have served their purpose, which was to reduce erosion and to get old farm fields into timber production as quickly as possible. Now these stands must be harvested to allow room for naturally occurring hardwoods to dominate the site.

Hardwood - Hardwood trees are not usually planted as 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 a source of future crop trees. Some stands will contain large trees, giving an illusion of old growth, but 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 of these hardwood stands are mature and ready to be regenerated to new young trees. This is usually done by a thinning which promotes regeneration of new seedlings by allowing in ample light and increased growing space available. Then in a few years when regeneration is adequate, it is followed by an overstory removal of the larger trees that were left in the previous harvest. Forest stands that are dominated by species that require direct sunlight (black cherry and yellow poplar) for reproduction are managed in this way. Forest stands that contain oak species may require the use of fire or other types of disturbance to maintain this forest type since acorn sprouting is tricky and requires the right soil characteristics to germinate.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands & Facilities

Gas can be found in the nearby communities of Machias, Franklinville and Cuba.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Franklinville, Olean and Cuba.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Franklinville, Machias and Olean.
Lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Cuba and Olean.

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.