Balsam Swamp State Forest
Balsam Swamp State Forest, is comprised of Chenango Reforestation Areas # 17 and 34, totaling 2,679 acres. This forest is located in parts of four towns: Pharsalia, Pitcher, McDonough and German.
Balsam Swamp is a sprawling state forest that stretches almost 5.5 miles east-west across 4 towns. The area is very rural, and the landscape surrounding the State Forest is predominantly forested. Balsam Swamp State Forest is comprised of a mix of native hardwood forests, hemlock swamps, and conifer plantations. There are no designated recreational trails on the forest, but there is ample opportunity for self-guided day hikes to explore the diversity of habitats represented on this State Forest. Additionally, the western section of Balsam Swamp State Forest is adjacent to Five Streams State Forest to the south.
The main attraction of this forest is Balsam Pond. The impoundment is approximately 152 acres and is a popular destination for fishing and paddle boat sports. Balsam Pond is a warm water fishery that contains a mix of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, brown bullhead and sunfish. Tiger muskellunge have been stocked in the past with the last stocking occurring in 1995. However, there have been very few reports of anglers catching any of the adult tiger muskies. A shallow gravel boat launch is suitable for launching small fishing boats.
A small rustic camp ground is also located at Balsam Pond. Camping spaces are available at no cost on a first-come, first-serve basis and there is no running water or electricity. A fire ring, outhouse, and picnic table are provided for each camping space. A sign on Balsam-Tyler Road in Pharsalia designates the entrance to the boat launch and camping facility. This is a carry-in carry-out facility. Please do not litter.
As with all State Forests, Balsam Swamp is actively managed for timber production. Forest management in this area is generally aimed at maintaining the natural character of the native hardwood stands, retaining and regenerating some of the spruce plantations, and converting the pine plantations to hardwoods.
Balsam Swamp State Forest is part of the Five Streams 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.
Anyone enjoying the use of this State Forest must observe the following rules which protect them and the forest environment:
- Do not litter. Carry out what you carry in. Burying of refuse is prohibited.
- If you build a fire, do so with care and use wood from dead and downed trees only. Never leave a fire unattended. Three foot radius must be cleared around fire.
- 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.
- 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.
- No permanent structures should be established, including tree stands or blinds.
Access to Balsam Swamp State Forest is gained from numerous town roads off of County Routes 23, 7, and 10. Balsam Pond is located on Balsam-Tyler Road.
State Forest Office (M-F 8am-4pm): 607-674-4036
Forest Ranger (Law Enforcement/Emergencies): 607-316-3291
DEC Ray Brook Dispatch: 1-877-457-5680