Greenwood Creek State Forest
This is one of the 43 state forests in St. Lawrence County administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Similar forests are found throughout the state, outside of the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. These lands were purchased first, to retire permanently abandoned and idle farm lands from agriculture, and second to provide for a future supply of timber, watershed protection, and lands for public recreation.
The forest, located in the town of Pitcairn, consists of 1,009 acres which was purchased in five separate parcels from 1933 to 1958. The total cost of this acreage was $4,112.31.
The 1995 Microburst/Blow down bears mentioning. Greenwood Creek was one of the state forests hardest hit by this weather event. One stand of timber was left unsalvaged and flattened, just as the storm left it, for research purposes. This stand can be viewed from the main truck trail off the slope of the second big hill, heading south into the forest. DEC's harvest schedules were thrown askew, and many acres of timber were harvested (salvaged) prematurely. In all, there were 20 microburst salvage sales at Greenwood Creek totaling 254.8 million board feet (MBF) of mainly hardwood sawlogs and 673 tons of softwood pulp.
The first forestry practice to be applied to this land was the planting of evergreen trees in the abandoned fields and meadows. In the fall of 1935, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) crews planted 336,000 tree seedlings on 261 acres. In the spring of 1954, Conservation Department crews planted an additional 45,800 seedlings on 42 acres.
The first commercial practice applied to these trees was the harvest of 1,460 Christmas trees in 1959, for a price of $1,110. Most of these were white spruce which the purchaser shipped to Florida. Most of the trees planted in 1935 have been commercially thinned for pulpwood three times. These harvests took place in 1962 to 63, 1971 to 73, and in 1979. In addition to the pulpwood sales, some utility poles and small sawtimber have been removed. These are the stands of red pine such as are growing in the picnic area. The future of these red pine stands depends on the quality of the individual trees remaining, and the condition of the "new" forest now growing under the pine. At some future date, when this "new" forest is ready to take over the site, the entire pine overstory will be harvested for poles, sawtimber, veneer, etc.
The hardwood stands have been cut for firewood, pulpwood, and sawtimber. The largest sawtimber sale occurred in 1980. There were 492.3 MBF sold for $46,970. In addition to these commercial treatments, some of the better hardwood stands were thinned in 1968 and 1969. State crews girdled the poorer trees with axes or chainsaws to allow the crop trees more room for growing.
As of December 31, 1984, the sales of forest products from this parcel have totaled $84,000.
This scenic spot has been used by local persons for as long as can be remembered. Around 1954, the Conservation Department began building fireplaces and setting out picnic tables until it reached its present stage of development. Due to the limited size of the picnic area, its use must be restricted to picnicking only. There are, however, two camping sites along the road before you enter the parking lot.
The trees located here are red pine and were planted in 1935. The area was cut for pulpwood in 1965 and in May of 1971.
Tour/Nature Trail (Yellow Markers)
To further enjoy the forest, take a leisurely walk, using the map of the area. The Star Lake Crew of the St. Lawrence County Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) has completed the construction and maintenance on the 1.8 mile nature loop at Greenwood Creek State Forest. The nature trail was constructed in 1981 by the Camp fine YCC, and winds it way along Greenwood Creek, past the falls, through hardwood and softwood forests that are managed by the Department.
In constructing a nature tail it is important to include as many different aspects of a forest as possible, and with the Greenwood Creek Nature Trail, the YCC laid out the trail through mixed hardwood forests (at the beginning of the trail) into stands of red pine.
The nature tail includes many points of interest that are brought out on signposts that dot the 1.8 mile route. A bubbling encased spring, built in the 1930's by the CCC and restored in 1982 by the current YCC, provides a respite for the thirsty hiker along the trail. The trail then meanders through a red pine plantation into hardwoods, then skirts the border of a hardwood forest and red pine stand showing the distinct characteristics of each forest type. The trail then drops into the lower elevations of the forest before it again climbs into the hardwoods, where it follows rock ridges along which raspberry, blueberry, and shadberry (also known as juneberry and serviceberry) patches are found. From the ridges, the trail descends into a spruce-fir wetland area, following a small brook for approximately 200 yards before the trail completes the 1.8 mile loop, and ends back at the picnic area.
For the less adventurous picnicker, Greenwood Creek State Forest offers a one quarter mile nature trail that leads to an observation platform overlooking a wetland habitat through which Greenwood Creek flows. For the ambitious brook trout angler, this section of the creek offers an evening meal at the picnic area.