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Hewitt State Forest

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Hewitt State Forest locator map

Hewitt State Forest is located just off of State Highway 41 on Hewitt Road. Although there are no formal hiking trails on the property, hiking is allowed anywhere unless posted otherwise.

Featured Activities


primitive camping

General information on primitive camping includes how-to, safety tips, and links to rules and 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 10 or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.



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

Fishing access information is available. Fishing easement information is available.

Snowy Overpass in Hewitt State Forest

Hunting & Trapping


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



General information on snowmobiling includes how-to, safety tips, and links to rules and regulations.

The only formal trail on the forest is a 2.5-mile snowmobile trail. The trail is part of corridor trail 5A, which provides snowmobiling between Auburn, Dryden, Cortland, Moravia, and Preble.


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


To access the Forest from points north, take State Route 41 south to Old State Road West. Make a left turn onto Old State Road West and then left on Brake Hill Road. Brake Hill Road runs through the Forest.

Coming from the south, take State 41 North and make a right onto Old State Road West. Follow directions above from here.

Hewitt Road Parking Lot (42.747603°N, 76.223207°W) Google Maps (link leaves DEC website)

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace (link 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 Hewitt 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 Hewitt State Forest

Hewitt State Forest is part of the Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands Unit Management Plan. A unit management plan (UMP) guides the DEC's land management activities on several geographically related forests for a 10-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.


Hewitt State Forest is New York State's first State Forest. Settlers arrived in the area as early as 1799 and claimed the area had an abundance of wildlife, which was both problematic and helpful. For instance, bears were troublesome because they were predators, and tended to destroy the settlers' corn crops. However, because bears were so abundant, the settlers could hunt them. On one such hunt, three settlers set out to track and kill a notorious predator, but never succeeded in finding it. After a brief search for the bear, one of the hunters gave up the hunt while the other two pushed forward. These two had no luck finding the bear either, but they succeeded in finding another bear known to be a nuisance. They shot the second bear instead, but they only wounded it. Eight miles later they finally killed it and made bear skin caps from its hide to commemorate the event. Deer were also a nuisance animal because of their large populations and tendency to consume crops.

From the time of the first European inhabitants to around 1865, the town of Scott grew to a population of about 1,149. Settlers were spread throughout the town's 12,928 acres and there were a number of sawmills and gristmills which dotted the landscape. The land surrounding the town was primarily used for agricultural purposes and still remains that way today with the exception of 938 acres reserved for Hewitt State Forest.

Unfortunately for the early farmers, Scott's soil was not conducive to agriculture. As in most New York State Forests in Cortland County, the soil of the area is classified as Lordstown-Volusia-Mardin or "LVM." LVM mostly consists of shallow to moderately deep soils with a hard subsurface layer, or fragipan. Due to the area's soil make-up, many farms became non-profitable around the time of the Great Depression and were sold to the State for reforestation.

Hewitt State Forest was established between 1929 and 1942 to reduce soil erosion, produce forest products, help stabilize the tax base, and provide recreational opportunities. Most of the landscape was cleared of trees for agriculture during the mid-to-late 19th century by European settlers. Between 1929 and 1947 approximately 1,056,872 pine, spruce, cedar, dogwood and red oak were planted by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp S-96, based in Sempronius, New York. Today the forest provides a diverse group of ecological, economic, and recreational services

This "State Reforestation Area", as it was called then, was eventually named after Senator Charles J. Hewitt from nearby Locke. Senator Hewitt was the sponsor of the Hewitt Reforestation Act that established State Forests outside of the Forest Preserves. On October 3, 1929, in an impressive ceremony, four Norway spruce from the State Nursery at Saratoga were planted on the former Harmon Farm. Planting these trees were: Nelson C. Brown, acting Dean of the State College of Forestry in Syracuse, who represented Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, Senator Charles J. Hewitt, Conservation Commissioner Alexander Macdonald, and George D. Pratt, President of the American Forestry Association and a former Conservation Commissioner.

Nearby Amenities and Attractions

Gas, food, dining and lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Tully and Homer.

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 online 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 online 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.