North Harmony State Forest
- Open for Recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 9 Dunkirk Office: 716-363-2052 (M-F, 8:00AM - 4:00PM); firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emergency, Law Enforcement & Rangers: 1-877-457-5680 or 911
- Location: Towns of Harmony, North Harmony and Sherman, Chautauqua County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 9J
- Map: View North Harmony State Forest Map || View Same Map in PDF (211 kB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
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 totals 2,561 acres and 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 as well as various habitats for many wildlife species such as deer, rabbit, grouse and turkey.
The 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.
During the summer, the pond blooms with Water Lilies
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
The Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail (leaves DEC website) runs through 3.2 miles of North Harmony State Forest. The Parks Division of the Chautauqua County Department of Public Works and the Chautauqua County Parks Commission are responsible for trail maintenance. Only biking, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are allowed on the trail - no motor vehicles or horses. Lean-to facilities with an outhouse are offered on county property that is adjacent to North Harmony State Forest.
Jasper Park provides picnicking and
parking for the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail.
Lean-to facilities are located along the Fred J. Cusimano
Westside Overland Trail off of School Street.
Jasper Park is located on Warner Road and offers picnic shelters. There is a fire ring or grill at each pavilion with a covered picnic table. The park is located within walking distance of the Fred J. Cusimano Westside 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 and camping is permitted here. This is 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 Jasper Park please call the local DEC Office at 716-363-2052.
This groomed snowmobile trail offers spectacular scenery as
it traverses the forest.
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
A section of trail through North Harmony State Forest which does not coincide with the hiking trail is adopted and maintained by the Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Club (leaves DEC 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 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 but they are open for snowmobiling and horseback riding.
General information on horseback riding includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
Horseback riding is allowed on North Harmony State Forest roads and on the snowmobile trail in the off season. There are plans for 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
General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules and regulations.
Non-motorized boats are allowed on Wiltsie Marsh and fishing is allowed. The marsh sustains a healthy fish population including bass, sunfish, bullhead and bluegill but it is not stocked. Make sure to abide by all fishing laws.
Hunting and trapping are allowed on the property. Make sure to abide by all applicable game laws.
Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing
General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
Skiing and snowshoeing are allowed at North Harmony State Forest on the Fred J. Cusimano Overland Trail, on forest roads, and on the snowmobile trail.
General information on biking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
Biking is allowed on North Harmony State Forest roads and on the snowmobile trail during the off season.
General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.
You may camp at one of the designated camp sites which are marked by yellow camp disks (pictured at right). There are site locations along Snake Forest Road, in the Wiltsie Marsh Area, and in the Jasper Park area (see map at top of page).
At-large backcountry camping is also 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.
Snapping turtles can be found in the
marsh and surrounding area.
General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.
Wiltsie Marsh attracts a broad variety of bird species including ducks, geese, hawks and even bald eagles. Also look for snapping turtles and other reptiles and amphibians.
General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.
Two roads are open for motorized access by people with mobility impairments for hunting and wildlife viewing: a 0.32-mile segment in the eastern part of the property off Warner Road and a 0.41-mile segment in the southern part of the property off Wiltsie Road. A permit is required through the Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD). Use the State Lands Interactive Mapper (SLIM) to find the locations of these two roads.
Route 474 parking area: From Panama, take Route 474 west for 1.5 miles to the Route 474 parking area and trailhead for the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail.
To Wiltsie Marsh: From Panama take North Street north for 0.2 miles to School Street, then turn left. After about 1 mile, turn left on Wiltsie Road and continue for about 2 miles. The access road to the marsh will be on the right.
To Jasper Park: From Panama take North Street north for 0.2 miles to School Street, then turn left. After about 1 mile, School Street becomes Warner Road at the intersection with Wiltsie Road. Continue north on Warner Road for 0.75 miles to Jasper Park and the Warner Road parking area. The Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail is just west of here as Warner Road continues to the west.
- Route 474 parking area (42.07508 -79.518167) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
- Warner Road parking area (42.096357 -79.496736) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety
Practice Leave No Trace principles (leaves DEC website) 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 North Harmony State Forest
DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Chautauqua Unit Management Plan. In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.
In the 1930s, North Harmony State Forest was the site of many work projects carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC. The CCC, 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.
Wiltsie Marsh was built with federal funds during the mid to late 1950's. Decades later, 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.
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 marsh renovation project, fish were relocated to the front pond and then were netted and restocked into the large pond following project completion.
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.
The Norway Spruce stand along this snowmobile trail
was planted by the CCC.
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.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
State Lands and Facilities
Gas can be found in the nearby communities of Clymer and Sherman.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Clymer and Sherman.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Clymer, Panama and Sherman.
Lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Clymer and Sherman.
Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.
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.