California Road State Forest
Open for recreation: Property is open year-round.
Contact Information: State Forest Office in Potsdam (M-F 8 AM - 4:30 PM): (315) 265-3090 email@ Region 6 mailbox
Backcountry Emergency (Search, Rescue & Forest Fire): (518) 891-0235 or dial 911
State Land Law Enforcement: (518) 897-1300
Fishing, Hunting & Trapping Law Enforcement: (315) 785-2231
Location: St. Lawrence County.
Wildlife Management Unit:
California Road State Forest covers 1,410 acres located in the towns of Pitcairn and Fowler in southwestern St. Lawrence County. 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.
General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations. There are no designated camp sites on this property. Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.
Hunting, Trapping, Fishing
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 geocaching. 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.
A Beaver Pond in California Road State Forest
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.
Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety:
Practice Leave No Trace (Leaves DEC website) principles when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts.
All users of State Forest must follow all State Forest Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.
Don't Move Firewood. The insects it carries could kill the forests you love.
How We Manage State Forest
DEC is developing a management plan which will describe the management activities for these lands. California Road is one of the State Forests and one Conservation Easement combined into the area called the St. Lawrence Rock Ridge Management Unit. In addition to forestry management objectives, the UMP will contain detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.
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.