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Turkey Hill State Forest

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Turkey Hill State Forest locator map

Turkey Hill State Forest encompasses 1,108 acres. It is a popular area for recreational activities including hunting, trapping, snowmobiling, bird watching, and nature viewing. There are 1.3 miles of recreational access provided by the Public Forest Access Road that cuts through the southern portion of the forest. Although there are no formal trails on Turkey Hill, hiking is allowed anywhere on the property unless posted otherwise.

Featured Activities


primitive camping

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



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

Fishing is limited to small headwater streams and a small pond north of NYS Route 79.

Scarlet Tanager

Hunting & Trapping


General Information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations. Hunting and trapping are allowed during appropriate seasons.



General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.Turkey Hill State Forest currently provides 2.0 mile of snowmobile trails.


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

Wildlife viewing is also popular on Turkey Hill. Early successional seedling/ sapling sized forest provides critical habitat for a suite of birds that require young, dense vegetation for breeding, nesting, and foraging. The list of birds that inhabit the forest include: the ruffed grouse, American woodcock, white-throated sparrow, American goldfinch, Rufous-sided towhee, chestnut sided warbler, yellow warbler, blue-winged warbler, white-eyed vireo, alder flycatcher, willow flycatcher, least flycatcher, hermit thrush, brown thrasher, indigo bunting, gray catbird and ,of course, the wild turkey after which the forest was named.

Mammals such as the red fox, gray fox, white tailed deer, eastern cottontail, woodland vole, eastern chipmunk, woodchuck, southern bog lemming and the meadow jumping mouse can all be found thriving within the early successional forest habitat. There are also 24 species of reptiles and amphibians confirmed or predicted in the area, including The red back salamander, pickerel frog and the painted turtle.


Turkey Hill State Forest may be accessed by taking NY Route 38 toward Richford, then turn onto NY Route 79 east. Travel about 1 mile until Payne Marsh Road, and turn right. Continue approximately 0.7 miles, then turn left onto Tubbs Hill Road which bisects the forest. A Public Forest Access Road can be reached from Tubbs Hill Road.

GPS coordinates for trailheads, parking areas, boat launches, waterway access sites and other access points. (42.3505096,-76.1443809) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

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 with other users.

All users of Turkey 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.

How We Manage Turkey Hill State Forest

Turkey Hill State Forest is part of the Rockefeller Unit Management Plan. A Unit Management Plan (UMP) guides the DEC's land management activities on several geographically related forests for a ten-year period, although a number of goals and objectives in the plan focus on a much longer time period. Each UMP addresses specific objectives and actions for public use and forest management.

Seemingly solitary and uninhabited, Turkey Hill State Forest is a great place to experience the look and feel of an undeveloped managed forest. The landscape of the area is a dense mosaic of different cover types, including oak, red pine, and spruce. However, the ice storm that hit the area in 2003 also created plenty of early successional habitat for plants and animals to flourish.


Most of the land encompassing what is today known as Turkey Hill State Forest was purchased during the 1930s. Prior to this point, the land had been cleared of the natural vegetation and used for agriculture by early European settlers and Revolutionary War Veterans. However, soils common in the area have major limitations for intensive crop production, including a seasonally high water table, low fertility, moderate to high acidity, and erodibility on steep slopes. Early farmers quickly learned that the combination of long, harsh winters and thin, fine textured upland soils would not support intensive agriculture. As such, many of the farmlands were abandoned as farmers sought more fertile land in the Midwest.

Fortunately, the State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 set forth the legislation that authorized the Conservation Department (predecessor to the Department of Environmental Conservation) to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation areas. These state forests, consisting of no less than 500 acres of contiguous land outside the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, were to be "forever devoted to reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon." Management is defined as including watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, recreation and kindred purposes. (Article 9, Titles 5 and 7, Environmental Conservation Law). Today, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) oversees the management of the lands acquired, including Turkey Hill State Forest, which now provides diverse ecological, economic, and recreational services for the people of New York State.

Nearby Amenities and Attractions

Gas, food, dining and lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Ithaca, Richford and Whitney Point .

Numerous guide books 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.