Lesser Wilderness State Forest
- Open for recreation: Year-round.
- Fee: Free.
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 6 Lowville Office: 315-376-3521 email Region 6 mailbox
- Backcountry Emergency (Search, Rescue & Forest Fire): 518-891-0235 (24 hours a day) or dial 911
- State Land Law Enforcement: 518-897-1300
- Fishing, Hunting & Trapping Law Enforcement: 315-785-2231
- Location: Lewis County, towns of Turin, West Turin, and Martinsburg
- Wildlife Management Unit: 6N
- Map: View Lesser Wilderness State Forest Map || View Map in PDF (593 KB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
This 13,793-acre state forest is on top of the eastern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau, and includes the highest elevations in Lewis County. Considered the core of Tug Hill, it has very poor soils and severe winter conditions with snows in excess of 300 inches every year.
Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Hiking, Biking and Snowmobiling
Recreational pursuits include traditional activities like hiking and biking, as well as more contemporary winter activities such as cross country skiing and snowmobiling. More than 15 miles of maintained forest access roads, 1.8 miles of dedicated snowmobile trails, and 1.4 miles of roads limited to motor vehicle access for people with disabilities by permit only, round out the extensive public access offered by this unique area.
The Carpenter Road trail system, (Carpenter Road Trail Map, PDF 202 KB) is located on the eastern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau, an area with heavier snowfall than any other part of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. It offers 8 miles of scenic pathways for skiers in the winter and for hikers and bikers during the summer season.
The Tramp and Trail Club, located in Oneida County, has been of great assistance in trail maintenance at Carpenter Road. The trails are not groomed, but regular use keeps them in good shape. The first skier using the trails after a heavy snowfall may find themselves breaking trail through a couple feet of fluffy lake effect powder.
The recommended access point for entry to this trail system is via the Seymour Road at its intersection with the Carpenter Road. The entire trail system follows easy grades and is designed for the novice and intermediate cross country hiker/skier/biker. Please sign in at the registration box at the Seymour Road trail head.
The Cone Trail 0.8 miles
There is a Japanese larch plantation on state land at the intersection with the Carpenter Road. Proceeding southerly, the next block of trees is white spruce, followed by a block of red pine. Some of these blocks of trees have been managed to facilitate the production and gathering of cones, by removing the tops of the trees to induce low branch development. The cones are used for seed extraction for the production of new seedlings at the Saratoga Nursery. The open land to the east is privately owned farm land, with a fine view of the Adirondacks on the eastern horizon. After passing the cone production area, there are other red pine, white spruce and Scotch pine plantings, with interspersed native hardwood trees. The Seymour Road leads to two junctions with the West Loop trail and one junction with the Crossover Trail to the Slivka Road, another unused town road.
The Return Trail 0.9 miles
This trail forms an alternate method of accessing or returning from the West Loop. The trail may be accessed from the Carpenter Road by crossing over the ditch at any point and you are on the trail. Due to the lack of wind and solar exposure, this trail normally will still be usable in the spring, long after the Cone Trail has melted out. Starting at the West Loop, the trail leads northeast through a stand of hardwoods. It then enters a block of Scotch pine, red pine and white spruce. It next enters a Japanese larch stand and then turns southeast, paralleling Carpenter Road until it meets the register.
The West Loop Trail 2.3 miles
This trail traverses a number of picturesque natural forest areas as well as a white spruce plantation. The southern portion of the loop follows, in part, a woods road leading to private lands.
The Short Cut Trail 0.1 miles
As the name implies, this short section of trail begins and ends on the West Loop. It passes through a grove of mixed hardwoods. It enables the user to shorten the trip around the West Loop by 3/4 mile.
The Beaver Pond Trail 0.5 miles
The main attraction of this trail is the beaver pond near which it travels. One can branch off from the West Loop, travel through some spacious hardwoods, until you reach the pond. There, one may stop and ponder the beauty of the beaver pond. Thence the trail continues on south to the Seymour Road.
Mill Creek Run/Jack Track 1.0 mile
The south fork (Mill Creek Run) of this trail traverses a white spruce plantation and a number of scenic hardwood and softwood areas of sugar maple, red maple, balsam fir, red spruce, white cedar, and beech. This provides a scenic view of Mill Creek. After the junction with the North Fork (Jack's Track) a white spruce plantation is again encountered along the Slivka Road. There is a steep gorge just west of the intersection which blocks access from the South along the Slivka Road. Do not attempt to ski in that direction as the bridge is out. You may wish to take the Mill Creek Run on the way over to the Slivka Road and come back on Jack's Track for a change of scenery.
The Snow Ridge Loop 1.2 miles
This includes a short section of the Slivka Road which joins the terminus of this trail loop. Besides access from the Slivka Road, there is access to the Snow Ridge Loop via cross country ski trails on property owned by Snow Ridge Ski Resort. Snow Ridge, Inc. also maintains cross country ski trails on their property for public use. If these trails are to be used, Snow Ridge, Inc. regulations should be observed.
The Larch Loop/Douglas Creek Trails 1.2 miles
The newest trail in this System can be accessed via the West Loop or by the Carpenter Road parking lot. A fairly steep incline behind the parking area leads to a level trail winding through a mixture of larch and spruce plantation and natural woods. Two wooden bridges cross tributaries to Douglas Creek along this trail.
Hunting & Trapping
General Information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations. Visitors will encounter a large variety of animal species. White-tailed deer, beaver, waterfowl, and small fur bearing animals are common.
Alder Creek Route, Dolan-Market Route and Dolsee Route are designated motorized access routes for people with qualifying disabilities for hunting and wildlife viewing. A permit from Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) can be obtained from the nearest DEC office.
From Lyons Falls, take State Route #26/12D 4.8 miles south to Constableville. Turn right on John Street then to High Market Road. Go 5 miles to the North Road. Turn right and proceed 2 miles. All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.
- Smith Road Parking (N43.587156, W75.442533)
- Michigan Mills Parking (N43.601010, W75.550383)
- Seymour Road Ski Parking (N43.660262, W75.449221)
- Carpenter Road Ski Parking (N43.662826,W75.461693)
- Carpenter Road Snowmobile Parking (N43.660005, W75.447469)&
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.
How We Manage Lesser Wilderness State Forest
Low quality natural timber stands and large expanses of ecologically important wetland areas predominate the landscape. Most of this property was acquired by the state during the 1930's and 1940's, and included abandoned open farm fields and cut over woodlands. Since that time NYSDEC has planted many trees in the open fields and through the efforts of the Department's professional foresters, conducted many carefully controlled timber harvests aimed at improving the health and vigor of the forest.
DEC is developing a management plan which will describe the management activities for these lands. In addition to management objectives, the Tug Hill East UMP will contain 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 Unit Management Plans, or want to be sure you are included in any mailings about public meetings on this state forest, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer Groups and Nearby Attractions
Whetstone Gulf State Park (leaving DEC website)