Pharsalia Woods State Forest
- Open for recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 7 Sherburne Office: (607)-674-4017 M-F 8 am- 4 pm, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emergency, Law Enforcement & Rangers: (518) 408-5850 or 911
- Location: Plymouth and Pharsalia, Chenango County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 7M
- Map: View Pharsalia Woods State Forest Map || View Same Map in PDF (2.2 mB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
Recreational use of Pharsalia Woods State Forest, formally New Michigan State Forest, has increased substantially in the last ten years. Hunting, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, snowmobiling, hiking and wildlife observation are some of the more popular uses of the forest. Access is made easy by the nine-mile Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Truck Trail that passes atop a forested plateau and offers visitors many great views.
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
The forest contains six miles of the Finger Lakes Trail (leaves DEC site). Also, hiking is allowed anywhere unless posted otherwise.
General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
At-large primitive camping is 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.
General information on biking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations.
Hunting & Trapping
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
The forest has eleven miles of the NYS Snowmobile Corridor Trail (see map).
Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing
General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.
General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.
The forest supports a number of interior nesting bird species and has been designated by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area (IBA).
From Norwich, take State Highway 23 to the North Road. Travel South on the North Road through two intersections. The second intersection is the State Forest Access Road. Turn left to enter the heart of the forest.
State Highway 23 and North Road (42.6080571°N, 75.7264934°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.
How We Manage Pharsalia Woods State Forest
Pharsalia Woods State Forest is part of the Pharsalia Woods Unit Management Plan. A Unit Management Plan (UMP) guides the DEC's land management activities on several geographically related forests for a ten-year period, although a number of goals and objectives in the plan focus on a much longer time period. Each UMP addresses specific objectives and actions for public use and forest management. If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us email@example.com.
Approximately 40% of Pharsalia Woods State Forest is in conifer plantations established by the CCC with the remaining area in mature stands of northern hardwoods. Dark stands of planted spruce are interrupted by wide open vistas created after a tornado touched down on the forest in 1998. The roadside fire ponds with laid up stone and neatly channeled waterways recall the fastidious work of the CCC. A woodland cemetery pays tribute to Revolutionary War heroes, and the miles and miles of stone walls are monuments to the brute labor necessary for transforming forest into farmland. The cows and plows are gone but the walls remain as a reminder of both a faded agriculture and nature's power to reclaim the fields with lush sylvan growth.
Perhaps the most striking feature on Pharsalia Woods is the large swath of open land that resulted following the May 1998 tornado. Approximately 900 acres of land were impacted by the tornado, and all trees within this area were either uprooted, shattered or broken at some point along the main stem. Timber salvage operations with varying intensities of utilization were conducted on 700 acres with the remaining 200 acres left untreated due to sensitive soils, low timber value and for the purpose of retaining controls for comparative studies. Reforestation within the tornado zone has focused on promoting conditions favorable for natural regeneration of native species, restoring vegetation along riparian zones and reestablishing a conifer component on select plantation sites. To date, 30,000 conifer and hardwood seedlings have been planted in the tornado zone.
Following the 1788 treaty signed at Fort Schuyler between Governor Clinton and the Oneidas, what had previously been referred to as terra incognita- "unknown land"- was suddenly the twenty towns of Chenango County. In 1797 John Randall and seven other families arrived from Connecticut and began to carve a claim deep within the New York wilderness. A tell tale sign of the area's shallow soils and marginal farming conditions is revealed in Randall's choice of Stonington as the towns's original name. He may have been persuaded by land speculators to select a name more attractive to the wave of immigrants arriving from the east, because by 1808 the town was changed to Pharsalia. Despite the name change, poor soils resulted in high rates of farm abandonment such that by 1923 the population of Pharsalia had dropped to one half its 1850 level. With high rates of abandonment, Pharsalia became an early focus of state land acquisition programs and today nearly one half of the town is in public ownership.
Nearby Amenities and Attractions
- Balsam Swamp State Forest
- McDonough State Forest
- Perkins Pond State Forest
- Pharsalia Wildlife Management Area
Chenango County Tourism Webpage (Leaves DEC website)
Gas, food, dining and lodging may be found in the nearby community of Norwich.
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.