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Summer Hill State Forest

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Summer Hill State Forest locator map

Summer Hill State Forest encompasses 4,419 acres of dense forest land. Some of the more popular recreational activities include hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing, snowmobiling and horseback riding. There are no specifically designated hiking trails on this property but hiking is allowed anywhere on state forests unless posted otherwise.

Featured Activities


primitive camping

General information on primitive camping includes how-to, safety tips, and links to rules and regulations.

Primitive camping is 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.

Hardwood stand in Summer Hill State Forest



General information on fishing includes how-to, safety tips, and links to seasons, rules and regulations.

Fishing information for Central NY is available.

Hunting & Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 7J

General information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to, safety tips, and links to seasons, rules and regulations.

The heavily wooded landscape of Summer Hill State Forest makes it ideal for hunting and trapping.



General information on snowmobiling includes how-to, safety tips, and links to rules and regulations.

There is a 28-mile snowmobile trail that runs through Summer Hill State Forest, partly on seasonal town roads and partly in the forest.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross country skiing


General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to, safety tips, and links to rules and regulations.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all trails.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

General information on horseback riding includes how-to, safety tips, and links to rules and regulations.

Horseback riding has grown in popularity within the forest, and an informal trail system is currently in existence. However, since this area can become very wet at times, the season of use is limited to May through October. Proof of current negative Coggins certificate is required for all horses and out-of-state horse owners are required to produce a 30-day health certificate.


General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

Almost completely forested, the area provides protection and solace for an estimated 51 mammal species, 126 bird species, 20 species of reptiles, and 23 species of amphibians. A full listing of wildlife species confirmed or likely to be present on Summer Hill State Forest and surrounding areas can be found in the Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands Unit Management Plan.


Summer Hill State Forest may be accessed by taking NY Route 90 to Toll Gate Road, Lick Street, Salt Road or Dresser Road.

  • Route 90 and Locke Summerhill Townline Road (42.64542°N, 76.36599°W) Google Maps (link leaves DEC website)

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

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.

All users of Summer Hill State Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

The horseback riding season is limited to May through October. Horseback riders may not ride during wet conditions.

Planning and Management

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands Unit Management Plan (PDF, Part 1) (PDF, Part 2, 7MB). 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.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us at

Forest Management

DEC foresters are charged with the responsibility of managing state forests to enhance and maintain a diverse and healthy forest ecosystem for society and wildlife. As such, forest management is strategically employed to develop a balanced mix of young, middle-aged, and old (late successional) forest types, as well as to provide the public with compatible recreational activities.

Summer Hill State Forest is comprised of several different cover types, including northern hardwood, hardwood-hemlock, white pine, red pine, Norway spruce, and white spruce.


The first settlers on or near the Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands arrived in 1792 in the town of Niles and later traveled to Moravia, Locke, Sempronius, Scott, and Summerhill. Nathaniel Fillmore, one of the first to settle in Summerhill, was the father of U.S. President Millard Fillmore.

The majority of Summer Hill State Forest was purchased by the State in parcels in the 1930s. During this period, lands that had once been cleared for agriculture were restored to forests in an attempt to counteract the crashing economy and loss of jobs. The planting of trees not only created new job opportunities for hundreds of young men, but the opportunities associated with forest products themselves restored hope to hundreds.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas, food, dining and lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Homer and Cortland.

Cayuga County Tourism Webpage (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

Numerous guidebooks 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 online 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 online 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.