McDonough 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
- Backcountry Emergencies: 518-891-0235 (24/7) or 911
- Enforcement Matters: 1-877-457-5680 (24/)
- Location: McDonough and Preston, Chenango County
- Wildlife Management Unit:7M
- Map: View McDonough State Forest Map || View Same Map in PDF (345 Kb) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
McDonough State Forest is located ten miles west of Norwich, in the gently rolling hills of the Allegheny Plateau. Both the Finger Lakes Trail (leaves DEC website) and the New York State Corridor Snowmobile Trail pass through the forest, and many of the unpaved town roads are ideal for mountain biking and horseback riding.
Bowman Lake State Park (leaves DEC website) adjoins McDonough State Forest, and both the Finger Lakes Trail and the snowmobile trail cross from the state forest into the State park. Bowman Lake State Park provides camping, swimming and other developed recreational activities and facilities.
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
The Finger Lakes Trail (leaves DEC website) passes through the property.
General information on fire towers includes historic and current uses of fire towers and links to other locations with fire towers
From the fire tower atop Berry Hill, the forested landscape unfolds like a richly textured tapestry of lush sylvan growth. Plantations of spruce and pine define the boundaries of long abandoned farm fields and natural woods form an ocean of foliage that would remind the town's namesake, Commodore McDonough, of some distant sea. On closer inspection one will discover that the forest offers a diversity of habitats and histories ranging from the graveyards and stone fences of Roger's Street to ancient hemlocks and ice age formations along the Finger Lake's Trail.
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 paddling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
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.
Whaley's Pond, Bowman Creek, Mill Brook and some of their smaller tributaries offer good fishing opportunities
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
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 horseback riding includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations. Proof of current negative Coggins certificate is required for all horses and out-of-state horse owners are required to produce a 30-day health certificate.
General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.
General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.
A short (less than one mile) trail in the southwestern portion of the forest off Sort Cut Road allows motorized access for people with mobility impairments. A permit is required through the Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities.
Located on Bliven-Sherman Road, this site features a smooth, hard-packed 1/5-mile accessible trail that loops through the hemlock forest. The trail is very shaded and cool on a hot summer day. The trail maintains interest as it crosses level but rolling ground that is broken by very small, rounded hillocks, originally lifted by tree roots. At the end of the trail, there is an accessible observation deck that overlooks the pond. Officially the pond is unnamed; it lies immediately south of Whaley Pond and there is a stream that connects the two.
Full listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations
McDonough State Forest and CCC Historic Site
To gain access to this historic State Forest, from Oxford, take State Highway 220 heading West. The entrance to the Forest will be located to the North. Look for the historic chimney and the State Forest sign.
In East McDonough, turn right on Bowman Road, proceed north 1 mile, turn left on Bliven-Sherman Road, the site will be on your right. Or stop at CCC Historic Site for interpretive map and directions. (42.514135°N, 75.698992°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Short Cut Road (MAPPWD trail) parking (42.488632°N, 75.710485°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 McDonough State Forest
McDonough State Forest is part of the McDonough 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.
Today, McDonough and all State Forests in New York are managed for multiple benefits to serve the needs of the people of New York. Sustainable forestry practices will ensure a perpetual supply of timber, a diversity of wildlife habitats, compatible recreational opportunities and clean water. The underlying State Forest management philosophy is to consider today's natural resource demands while not compromising opportunities for future generations.
Beginning in 1804 settlers began to arrive from New England and were quick to exploit the region's wealth of natural resources. Timber, stone and water were cut, mined and harnessed and within fifty years most of the pre-settlement forest had been transformed into agricultural land. By the late 19th century, however, declining productivity of upland farms, the lure of the city and its industrial jobs, and the availability of what were advertised as more fertile lands in the American frontier, "go west young man", resulted in increasing rates of abandonment. Concern was growing over the local economic impact of migration and agricultural abandonment and as early as 1920 the Norwich Chamber of Commerce and Chenango County Fish, Game and Gun Club were advocating public land acquisition for conservation purposes. Following passage of the Hewett Amendment and the State Reforestation Act in 1929, Chenango County became an early focus of state land acquisition efforts.
Chimney at the site of former CCC camp
McDonough State Forest has the distinction of being the first reforestation area in Chenango County, and soon after acquisition, the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) were dispatched to plant millions of trees, construct bridges, roads and ponds and conduct other forest improvement activities. The first Chenango County CCC camp was a tent barracks located near Steers Pond that provided temporary accommodation for 180 African American enrollees. A more permanent camp was established in McDonough in June 1933 and could accommodate 200 men. Camp # 3 was active through 1941 and during its eight year history 1,500 men passed through its gates. A stone chimney located southeast of Bliven Pond along State Route 220 marks the site where Camp # 3 once stood.
CCC Historic Site
Interpretive Sign at CCC Site
This picnic area is located within the historic remains of a Civilian Conservation Corps encampment in McDonough State Forest. The site includes an accessible picnic table and a large interpretive sign with a map of the state forest that shows the way to Kopac Pond accessible trail.
Nearby Amenities and Attractions
Gas, food, dining and lodging may be found in the nearby communities of McDonough and 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.