North Harmony State Forest
Important Information: The Wiltsie access road to the Marsh Ponds is closed due to muddy and rutted conditions, making it unsafe for public travel. Ponds are accessible by foot traffic only. Check this webpage for updates or call DEC's Forestry office at 716-363-2052.
North Harmony State Forest (Chautauqua #2) totals 2,561 acres and is located in the southwestern area of Chautauqua County in the Towns of Harmony, North Harmony and Sherman, north of Panama. North Harmony State Forest provides many outdoor recreational opportunities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and hunting. It also serves as a source of raw material for New York's forest products industry which provides employment and income for many New Yorkers and provides for various habitats for many wildlife species such as deer, rabbit, grouse and turkey.
In the 1930s, North Harmony State Forest was the site of many work projects carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC. The CCCs, established by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, provided employment opportunities for young men during the Great Depression. CCC projects included the construction of roads and the planting of thousands of pine and spruce trees in the open areas on the property.
The Norway Spruce stand along this snowmobile trail
was planted by the CCC.
The forests of North Harmony are managed to produce timber crops, maintain diverse wildlife habitats, provide recreational opportunities, beautify the landscape, and protect water quality, truly multiple-use forest management.
Timber management is practiced at North Harmony State Forest. The existing stands of pine and spruce were planted in old farm fields as they need open areas with direct sunlight to thrive. The stands are usually managed by a series of partial harvest thinnings, which encourage the natural regeneration of native hardwoods by providing openings for sunlight. Removal of the conifer overstory in the final harvest enables the hardwood seedlings to grow to maturity.
Hardwood trees are not usually planted as they spread vast amounts of seed and naturally regenerate. Periodic thinning of the forest through the sale of forest products gives the residual trees more growing space. This helps to keep the forest healthy and provides openings for new seedlings, a revolving supply of food and cover for wildlife and source of future crop trees.
During the summer, the pond blooms with Water Lilies
North Harmony State Forest is home to Wiltsie Marsh, located just off of Wiltsie Road in the town of Sherman.Also known as Two Ponds, Wiltsie Marsh is a man made marsh that was built with federal funds during the mid to late 1950s. Marsh reconstruction efforts took place in the summer of 2007, to repair beaver damage that occurred on the dike.
The marsh was built by wildlife with federal funds during the mid to late 1950's. Due to old age and heavy beaver activity within the marsh, the dike was in danger of washing out which could cause potential downstream flooding, road damage,and loss of valuable marsh habitat loss.
To address this threat, DEC's Divisions of Forestry, Wildlife, and Operations collaboratively undertook an extensive marsh repair and reconstruction project during the summer of 2007. Renovation efforts included cleaning and reconstructing the dike control box in an attempt to prevent it from washing out and to protect it from future beaver damage.
During the march renovation project, fish were relocated to the front pond and then were netted and restocked into the large pond following project completion.
Snapping turtles can be found in the
marsh and surrounding area.
Wiltsie Marsh attracts a broad variety of bird species including ducks, geese, hawks and even Bald Eagles.
The Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail traverses approximately five miles of the management unit. The trail was built through the cooperation of governments and private individuals. The Parks Division of the Chautauqua County Department of Public Works and the Chautauqua County Parks Commission are responsible for trail maintenance. There is a parking lot on Route 474, and others are planned to provide access for the public.
The Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail runs through 3.2 miles of North Harmony State Forest . This section of the trail is maintained by Chautauqua County Department of Public Works, Parks Division. Bicycles, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are allowed on the trail. Motor vehicles or horses are not permitted on this section of trail. Lean-to facilities with an outhouse facility is offered on county property that is adjacent to North Harmony State Forest. A map for the trail can be obtained form the Chautauqua County Parks Office; a link to their webpage is available on the right hand column of this page, under the heading "Links Leaving DEC's Website."
Jasper Park provides picnicking and
parking for the Fred J Cusimano Westside Overland
Lean-to facilities are located along the Fred J. Cusimano
Westside Overland Trail off of School Street.
Jasper park is located on Warner Road in the town of North Harmony and offers picnic shelters. there is a fire ring or grill at each pavilion with a covered picnic table. Jasper Park is located is within walking distance of the overland trail. You may park at Jasper Park and hike a short distance down Warner road to the trailhead.
There is a port-a-john located at the site for restroom facilities. Camping is permitted at the Jasper Day Use Area and may be done elsewhere on the unit at least 150 feet from any road, trail or water body/stream. This is also a carry-in carry-out facility and all garbage must be taken with you when you leave. This area is available for adoption under our Adopt-a-Natural Resource Agreement. If you would like more information on how to adopt this area or how you can help to maintain the Jasper Day Use Area please call the local DEC Office at 716-363-2052.
This groomed snowmobile trail offers spectacular
scenery as it traverses the forest and is sure to please
any outdoor winter enthusiast.
The local snowmobile club maintains a section of trail through North Harmony State Forest which does not coincide with the hiking trail. This trail is adopted and maintained by the Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Club. A link to their website a link to their website is available on the right hand column of this page, under the heading "Links Leaving DEC's Website." This trail consists of about 12 miles that connect to various other snowmobile trails that travel off state property-please be respectful of adjacent landowners. This trail also can be used for hiking and mountain biking in the off season.
Several gas and oil wells were developed at North Harmony in the 1980s. The roads for these wells provide restricted access for state forest management and recreational activities; they are not open for general vehicular traffic. These oil and gas well roads are open to snowmobiling and horseback riding.
Horseback riding is allowed on North Harmony State Forest roads and on the snowmobile trail in the off season. There are currently plans of making more horse trails on the unit, this project is ongoing and more information will be posed as trails develop. A local horse club has an Adopt-a- Natural Resource agreement for this unit which allows them to develop and maintain these trails.
Coordinators of organized trail events need to obtain a Temporary Revocable Permit for use of the trails prior to the event. These can be obtained at the Dunkirk DEC Office at 716-363-2052.
The pond at Wiltsie Marsh is a popular
Wiltsie Marsh, or also called "two ponds" sustains a healthy fish population including Bass, Sunfish, Bullhead and Bluegill. Non-motorized boats are allowed on the marsh and fishing is allowed, there are bass in this pond but it is not stocked. All persons over the age of 16 must posses a valid anglers license and follow applicable angling laws.
Hunting is allowed on the property; please be sure to be properly licensed and to abide by all applicable game laws.
Skiing and snowshoeing
Skiing and snowshoeing are allowed at North Harmony State Forest on the Fred J. Cusimano Overland Trail, on forest roads, and the snowmobile trail.
Mountain Biking is allowed on North Harmony State Forest roads and on the snowmobile trail during the off season.
You may camp at one of the designated camp sites which are marked by yellow camp disks. There are site locations along Snake Forest Road, Wiltsie Marsh Area, and Jasper Park area. Locations can be seen on the map using the links at the top of the page. Otherwise you can set up camp as long as you are 150 feet away from streams, roads, trails or water bodies.
Guidelines for Use of State Land
State lands belong to all of us. Please help care for this area and enhance the enjoyment of it for yourself and others by observing these simple guidelines.
From Panama take route 474 west 1.5 miles to the Route 474 parking lot and a Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail head.
Or, From Panama take County Route 33 north 0.2 miles to School Street. Proceed west and north on School Street 1 mile to Wiltsie road, proceed west on Wiltsie Road 2 miles, the access road to the marsh will be on the right.
Or, Continue north on School Street 0.75 miles to Warner Road. Proceed west on Warner Road 0.75 miles to Jasper Day Use Area, the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail is just east of here.
The parking lots for the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail use are located off County Route 474 and at the Jasper Park Day use area on Warner Road.
State Forest Office (M-F 8-4 p.m.): 716-363-2052
Forest Ranger (Evenings, Weekends and Holidays): 716-771-7180