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Fairfield State Forest

primitive camping hikinghuntingtrappingsnowmobilingcross-country skiingsnowshoeingicon key

Fairfield State Forest locator map

Fairfield State Forest encompasses 815 acres of land. It offers opportunities for recreational activities that are best enjoyed in remote, relatively undisturbed natural forest areas such as hunting, trapping, primitive camping, and snowmobiling. Additional access is provided by a 2.0 mile public forest access road and by Jenksville Hill Road, a seasonal town road (not plowed) that cuts through the forest. There are no formal hiking trails but hiking is allowed anywhere on the property unless posted otherwise.

A spring seep with flowers

An abundance of plant life also flourishes within the woods such as tree clubmoss, painted trillium, and Christmas fern. Interesting plants such as the pink lady's slipper and blue cohosh can be found on the forest. Please don't pick the plants; they are protected by the Environmental Conservation Law.

Target shooting is prohibited on this state forest.

Featured Activities

Camping

primitive camping

General information on primitive camping includes how-to and 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.

Hiking

hiking

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

There are no formal hiking trails but hiking is allowed anywhere on the property unless posted otherwise.

Hunting & Trapping

hunting
trapping

Wildlife Management Unit: 7R

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

Snowmobiling

snowmobiling

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

Fairfield State Forest offers approximately 1.6 miles of formal snowmobile trails.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross country skiing
snowshoeing

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

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted anywhere on the property unless posted otherwise.

Wildlife

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

The forest contains a wide variety of habitats which support a moderate diversity of wildlife species including mammals, reptiles, amphibians such as the Allegheny dusky salamander, and birds including at least twelve species of warblers. Many game species, such as deer, turkey, grouse, raccoon, mink and fox are also quite common.

Directions

From Ithaca: Take NY Route 79 southeast for about 14 miles; at West Creek Road make a right turn and travel south for about 4 miles, then bear right into the hamlet of Speedsville. At the corner of Old Route 76 (in Speedsville), make a left and continue south on West Creek Road for about 1 mile; make a right on Legge Hill Road and travel southwest (uphill) for about 1 ½ (1.5) miles. Stay straight and the road intersects Lathrop Road (a farmhouse and barn is at the intersection). The entrance to Fairfield State Forest Public Access Road is on the left about 1/3 (0.3) of a mile south from the intersection of Legge Hill Road and Lathrop Road. Parking is available from the shoulder of the road.

From Interstate 81: Take exit 8 at Whitney Point and travel west on NY Route 79 for about 15 miles (you will pass the hamlet of Richford and NY Route 38). Stay straight on NY Route 79 and proceed to West Creek Road; make a left turn a follow the directions above. Parking is available from the shoulder of the road.

  • Jenksville Hill Road (42.2712875°N, 76.2673026°W) Google Maps (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 Fairfield 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.

Target shooting is prohibited on this state forest.

Planning and Management

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Tioga 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.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email R7Forestry@dec.ny.gov.

Fairfield State Forest lies within the Central Appalachians ecological subzone, characterized by oaks on southern slopes, mixtures of hardwoods, and hemlock in the ravines

Fairfield forest

History

The land that is now known as Fairfield State Forest was sold to the State of New York between the years 1932 and 1940, with an additional purchase in 1962. Like many of New York's state forests, the land had originally been cleared and farmed by European settlers and Revolutionary War Veterans. Unfortunately, the soils common in the area are relatively steep and acidic. As such, the ground is not fit for intensive farming. When combined with harsh winters and a short growing season, it is quite understandable that farmers abandoned these lands in pursuit of greener pastures in the Midwest.

In order to reduce soil erosion, protect water quality, provide forest products and recreational opportunities, the State of New York started acquiring property during the 1930s and planted many trees on it. More than 434,000 tree seedlings were hand planted at Fairfield State Forest by the Cornell Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp in 1934. In 1938, the Slaterville Springs CCC Camp S-125 hand planted 30,750 more trees. The Conservation Department (now DEC) planted an additional 18,700 more seedlings in 1963 using only a tractor and spade. Thus, the land that encompasses what is now known as Fairfield State Forest has been restored to forest and today provides diverse ecological, economic, and recreational services.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas, food, dining and lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Ithaca and Owego.

Tioga County Tourism Office (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 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.