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Hammond Hill State Forest

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Hammond Hill State Forest locator map

Recreational Activities

  • Accessible Site
  • Primitive Camping
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting, Wildlife Management Unit 7R
  • Mountain Biking
  • Nature Photography/Observation
  • Snowmobiling
  • Trapping

Background Information

Hammond Hill State Forest is located 3618 acres and is located in the towns of Caroline and Dryden in eastern Tompkins County. Hammond Hill State Forest has become a popular area for recreation. Present activities include: hunting, hiking, fishing, bird watching, camping, cross-county skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, trapping and snowshoeing. ATV use is prohibited on State forests.


Wooded Path at Hammond Hill State Forest

The Hammond Hill State Forest Multiple Use Trail System has been designed to offer family-based recreation for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-county skiing. A snowmobile trail and the Finger Lakes Hiking Trail also cross the forest. The 16 mile trail system is a cooperative effort between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Lands and Forests, the Cayuga Nordic Ski Club, the Cayuga Nature Center, the Friends of Hammond Hill and the town of Dryden. There is a short section of the trail system in the northwestern portion of the forest that is designated as an accessible trail for those with mobility impairments. One must have a DEC permit in order to access this trail with an ATV.

The trails are marked with circular trail signs. All trails are designated by color and number. Most of the trails are above 1800 feet in elevation; therefore, these trails are well suited for cross-county skiing. Trailed parking is provided in a parking lot on Cayuga Nature Center property on Hammond Hill Road. The trails are classified by the user's ability. Beginner trails have very gentle slopes and are fairly short in length. Intermediate trails have gentle to somewhat steep slopes and are moderate in length. Advanced trails have gentle to steep slopes and are usually longer in length than intermediate trails.

Yellow Trails

These total 5.6 miles in length. The recreational activities allowed on the yellow trails are: hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.

  • Trail 1- intermediate trial 1.9 miles
  • Trail 2- beginner trail .6 miles long
  • Trail 3- intermediate trail .6 miles long
  • Trail 4- intermediate trail 1.0 miles long
  • Trail 5 - advanced trial 1.3 miles long
  • Trail 6- beginner trial .2 miles long
  • Trail 7- beginner trail .5 miles long
  • Trail 8- intermediate trail .4 miles long

Blue Trails

The blue trail totals 1.4 miles in length. The recreational activities allowed on the blue trails are: hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.

  • Trail 1- intermediate trail 1 miles long

Red Trails

The red trails total 1.7 miles in length. The recreational activities allowed on the red trails are: hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.

  • Trail 1- advanced trail .6 miles long
  • Trail 2- advanced trail 1.1 miles long

Green Trails

Green trails total 1.7 miles in length. The recreational activities allowed on the green trails are: hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.

  • Trial 1- advanced trail .8 miles long
  • Trail 2- intermediate trail .7 miles long
  • Trail 3- advanced trail .2 miles long

Orange/Snowmobile Trails

These trails total 5.6 miles in length. The trails are designated as a corridor snowmobile trail. However, other recreational activities allowed on the orange trails are: hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and some cross-county skiing.

Finger Lakes Trails

The Finger Lakes Hiking Trail is approximately 3.2 miles in length and signed with white blazes. Recreational activities allowed on the trail are hiking during he summer and skiing and snowshoeing during the winter.

There are approximately 6.2 miles of State forest access roads and seasonal use roads that are utilized primarily by snowmobilers. All recreational uses are allowed on these roads; however, care must be taken as these roads are open to motor vehicle traffic year round.

Trail Etiquette

  1. Pass only in flat areas. A faster trail user should vocally indicate the desire to pass. The slower trail user should yield by moving to the right where possible.
  2. Try not to pass on a downhill. Save passing for the flat areas where the slower trail user can maneuver more easily.
  3. The user going downhill has the right-of-way, since he or she is moving faster and may have less control. Do not descend a hill until the trail is clear.
  4. Move off the trail as quickly as possible after a fall. This will prevent possible collisions and allow other trail users to pass. When skiing, fill in sitzmarks before proceeding.
  5. Don't hike, bike or ski alone. Long tours should not be attempted alone. Serious injury can occur when using the trails.
  6. Do not hike or bike in the ski tracks.
  7. Treat all other users with respect. Mountain bikers and hikers should yield to horses. Horses can become skittish or spooked by sudden movements.


The forest was established between 1935 and 1950 in an effort to reduce soil erosion problems, produce forest products, and provide recreational opportunities. Nearly half of the forest (1799 acres) was acquired by the State from the federal government. Most of the property was former pasture or tilled acreage that was suffering from poor agricultural practices. The DEC planted this land with 708,000 pine, spruce, larch, maple, cherry, ash and oak seedlings. The planting was accomplished between 1935 and 1940 using Civilian Conservation Corps labor. Today, almost 100% of the area is forested, the soil has been improved, and the harvesting of forest products supports all management activities, including recreation.

Field Notes

Management goals for the forest are to provide recreational opportunities, to maintain a healthy forest and ecosystem, and to improve the forest for future generations. This is a work in progress that started in 1935. We now have a rich and diverse forest. Future forest management will be aimed at converting the even-aged softwood plantations to more natural mixed hardwood and softwood forests.

Hammond Hill State Forest is part of the Twin Sheds 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

State Forest Regulations

State Land Use Regulations (link leaves DEC website)

Anyone enjoying the use of this State Forest must observe the following rules which protect them and the forest environment:

  1. Do not litter. Carry out what you carry in. Burying of refuse is prohibited.
  2. If you build a fire, do so with care and use wood from dead and downed trees only. Never leave a fire unattended.
  3. All motorized vehicles are restricted to access roads posted as motor vehicle trails. Off road use of motorized vehicles, such as ATVs, trail bikes and four-wheel drives is not allowed, except where specifically permitted by signs, posted notice or by DEC permit.
  4. Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of water, roads or trail.
  5. No permanent structures should be established, including tree stands or blinds.


The best access to Hammond Hill State Forest is from Irish Settlement Road on the west side of the forest. From the south one would take a right turn into the forest (or a left if coming from the north) This road comes to a "v" shortly after entering the forest. Taking the left branch will lead you across private land and then to the eastern section of the forest onto Star Stanton Road. Star Stanton is a seasonal road and is not plowed in the winter. Taking a right at the "v" will lead you south. Once passed the Cayuga Nature Center, a private holding that borders the forest, this road too becomes seasonal. Another option for entering the forest is from the Harford Road on the southern boundary of the forest. Hammond Hill Road and the Canaan Road both lead north off of Harford Road. These roads are paved for a distance, but when they enter the forest, they become seasonal roads.

Important Numbers

State Forest Office (M-F 8am-4pm): 607-753-3095

Forest Ranger (Law Enforcement/Emergencies): 607-798-1797

DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch: 518-408-5850

Emergency: 911