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California Road State Forest

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California Road State Forest locator map

California Road State Forest covers 1,410 acres located in the towns of Pitcairn and Fowler in southwestern St. Lawrence County.

Recreation

There are two short hiking trails located off the Orebed and Sibley Roads. The property does provide large undeveloped areas well suited for hunting, hiking, and nature viewing.

Camping - There are no designated camp sites on this property. Backcountry camping is allowed. Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. Camping is prohibited at any location within 150 feet from water, roads or trails.

Hunting and trapping are permitted on the property in accordance with all game regulations, unless otherwise posted. Traps may not be set on public road right of ways. Body gripping traps set on land must be at least 100 feet from public trails.

Geo-caching is allowed although caches must be marked with the owner's contact information and may not be placed in dangerous or ecologically sensitive locations. See the February 2005 article in Conservationist Magazine for more information on geo-caching.

Field Notes

The topography is very hilly with thin soils and rocky exposed ridge tops predominating. Better quality upland sites support a mixture of northern hardwood, hemlock, and white pine forests. Lower quality upland sites are dominated by red oak, eastern hophornbeam, hickories, and other species adapted to droughty and nutrient poor soils. Pine and spruce plantations were established on what were formerly farm fields and pastures. Flatter ground supports open wetlands and shrub swamps, which gradually transition to swamp hardwoods in seasonal flooded areas.

a beaver pond in California Road State Forest
A Beaver Pond in California Road State Forest

Driving Directions

This forest can be accessed from Ore Bed and Streeter Roads in the town of Pitcairn and the Sibley Road in the town of Fowler.

Important Phone Numbers

Potsdam DEC Office (M-F 8 am-4:30 pm)

DEC Forest Ranger Dispatch: (518) 408-5850

Emergencies: 911

Tips for Using State Forests

Anyone enjoying this property must observe rules which protect both them and the forest environment.

History

This forest consists of 12 parcels which were purchased between 1940 and 1989 for the purposes of reforestation, wildlife management, timber production, recreation, and watershed protection.

Portions of this area were formerly agricultural land that has reverted to forest. Open fields were planted with a variety of species including white spruce, red pine, Scotch pine, and white cedar. A total of over 74,000 trees were planted on 120 acres of this state forest between 1954 and 1967.

This state forest is located adjacent to a 164 acre parcel of state land classified as Forest Preserve. The forest preserve parcel is not managed for timber but is accessible for hiking and hunting. The southwestern portion of this state forest also shares a common boundary with the Fort Drum Military Reservation.

Several state forests in southwestern St. Lawrence County were severely damaged by an intense windstorm which occurred on July 15, 1995. This storm came to be known as the 1995 Microburst, which affected a wide area stretching across northern New York State, from Lake Ontario to the central portion of the Adirondack Park. Winds gusted as high as 100 miles per hour, which caused damage ranging from broken tree limbs and tops to areas of 10 or more acres that were entirely blown down.

Four state forests in the town of Pitcairn suffered heavy wind damage: California Road, Cold Spring Brook, Greenwood Creek, and Toothaker Creek State Forests. Over the next 3 years, a total of 1,100 acres of storm damaged timber were harvested, yielding 1.4 million boardfeet of sawlogs and more than $280,000 in revenue. Many of the harvested areas have become dense stands of hardwood seedlings and saplings. These areas now provide early successional habitat preferred by several species of birds such as ruffed grouse, woodcock, and warblers.