Six Nation Trail System
Between them, Sugar Hill State Forest and Goundry Hill State Forest comprise more than 11 thousand acres in Schuyler County. Among its many attractions is the Six Nations Recreation Trail System, primarily designed for horses and snowmobiles. The trail system traverses the hills separating the Keuka and Seneca lakes.
Also located in the area is a portion of the Finger Lakes/North Country Trail, the Sugar Hill Fire Tower, and the Sugar Hill Archery Course. Goundry Hill and Sugar Hill State Forests offer spectacular views, miles of forests, and opportunities to catch a glimpse of the wildlife which call this area home.
Six Nations Trail System
The trail system is a series of loops and spurs, covering about 35 miles. Primarily horseback riding during the summer months, and snowmobile in the winter months. In addition, hikers and cross-country skiers are welcome to use the trail system. Caution should be taken on some of the steeper sections along the trails. The main trail head is located at the Sugar Hill Firetower Recreation Area on Tower Hill Road. At that location you will find parking, water, flush toilets, the fire tower, rangers cabin, picnic area and pavilion, 16 horse stalls, rec building, kiosks with sign-in sheets, an accessible horse mounting ramp, two radio towers, a couple of archery targets and field area for camping.
Near the south end of Evergreen Hill Road a smaller parking lot has four covered horse stalls, kiosk with sign in sheets, picnic tables, outhouse and a nearby stream for water. (Please treat the water before consuming.) Eight other parking lots are scattered throughout the area.
Include an approximately 35-mile horse/snowmobile trail, horse-mounting platform, restrooms, and picnic tables located at the Fire Tower Recreation Area. Picnic tables are available at the Lower Evergreen parking lot.
Full listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations.
Hunting opportunities for waterfowl, big game and small game are available and vary with the habitat.
Camping and picnicking are first come-first serve for the prime locations. Large groups (20 or more) need to contact the DEC Bath Sub-Office and get a Temporary Revocable Permit (TRP). There are usually four or more large, organized gatherings each year, so check the kiosk or call the DEC Bath sub-office.
The rangers cabin and rec building are usually closed for public use. The fire tower observation deck is closed, but the stairs up to the top landing are open for climbing at your own risk. On a clear day the view is spectacular.
Another attraction is the Finger Lakes/North Country Trail for hiking. The entire Finger Lakes Trail is 553 miles long, approximately 15 miles of which cross the Goundry Hill and Sugar Hill state forests. The North Country National Scenic Trail is about 4,600 miles long and crosses seven northern states - New York to North Dakota. Over 300 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail is also North Country Trail, including the portion on these two state forests. Because the Finger Lakes Trail System is designed for foot travel, horses and snowmobiles are prohibited.
The origin of the name "Six Nations" is lost in time. Two possible sources are the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, or the home lands of the original European settlers.
Beginning in the 1930s, the people of New York State purchased these lands for timber production, recreational use, watershed protection, and wildlife habitat. During the 1930s, this area was the site of many work projects carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
The CCC was established by the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide employment opportunities for men during the Great Depression. Conservation projects completed here include the construction of roads and the planting of thousands of pine and spruce trees. Remnants of a CCC camp remain on Pine Creek Road.
In 1941, the CCC built the Sugar Hill Fire Tower, which was used until the mid 1980s, when aerial detection became more efficient and economical. The tower is 68 feet tall and sits at an elevation of 2100 feet above sea level.
State forests now provide opportunities for many informal outdoor recreational activities. They also provide wood for New York's forest products industry, a major contributor to the state's economy.
Several clubs, and individuals, partner with DEC to help maintain the recreation trails and other facilities. This is done under the DEC Adopt-A-Natural Resource Stewardship Program (AANR). Volunteer stewardship is a critical asset. The DEC's AANR program leverages the Department's capabilities, while building and sustaining important relationships between recreational stakeholders and the Department.
Forest Land Management
The forests in this area are managed to produce forest crops, maintain diverse wildlife habitat, and provide recreational opportunities, while protecting water quality and aesthetics. The main method of accomplishing these objectives is by careful harvesting of trees. For further information see the Six Nations Unit Management Plan, which includes these state forests.
State Forest Regulations
Respect the rules and regulations that apply to the use of public lands, and always seek permission before crossing private lands.
- Don't litter! If you carry it in, carry it out! Keep camping, parking, and corral areas clean. Leave them as you would like to find them.
- Camping is free. Groups of 10 or more must obtain a camping permit from the forest ranger on duty. Anyone staying more than three nights also must obtain a camping permit from the forest ranger. Quiet must be observed from 10 PM until 6 AM.
- Fires are allowed. Use fire rings where provided. Do not leave fires unattended. Extinguish fires completely before leaving. Use only dead or down wood. Do not cut, chop or damage living or standing trees. Be careful with fire and cigarettes in the forest.
- Park trailers and vehicles in spaces provided. Do not block roadways or trail entrances.
- Human waste: Use facilities provided. When in the forest, dig a trench (away from water sources) and cover waste completely.
- Horse and other animal waste: Please remove manure and place in wagon provided. Leave stalls clean for the next person.
- Registered snowmobiles are allowed. ATVs are prohibited on state forest lands, trails and roads.
- Horses must have negative Coggins Test results. Do not tether horses to live trees.
- Stay on designated trails. Do not cause damage by heedlessly trampling trail side vegetation.
- Respect other trail users. Do not force others off the trail! Dismount and walk your horse or mountain bike when encountering other hikers or entering someone else's camp.
- Hunting allowed during open season. Permanent tree stands are prohibited. It is illegal to damage trees in any manner, such as by piercing them with screws, nails or staples, or by wrapping them with wire.
- Rabies may be present in warm-blooded animals. Please do not feed or harass any wildlife on public land.
Maps to the Trail System
The brochure of the trail system can be found in the kiosk located at the Firetower Recreation Area, the parking lot at the south end of Evergreen Hill Rd, from the Bath DEC office, or by printing this pdf of the brochure (11x17 inches, PDF, 781 KB). Additional maps may be found on the Sugar Hill or Goundry Hill State Forest web pages or create your own with the State Recreational Lands Interactive Mapper.