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Salmon River State Forest

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Salmon River State Forest locator map

Salmon River State Forest encompasses 2,763 acres of land. Activities such as hiking, hunting, trapping, fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and cross country skiing, are best suited for this state forest. Harpers Ferry, a Public Forest Access Road, provides 0.8 miles of recreational access into the forest.

An abundance of wildlife makes both hunting and trapping a particularly enjoyable activity. In fact, this area is often referred to as "Little America" because it so closely preserves the raw natural beauty that once covered the terrain before intense settlement recreated the landscape.

Featured Activities



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

There is a series of hiking trails on the western portion of the property. Hiking is allowed anywhere on the property unless posted otherwise.


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.



General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules and regulations. This property includes a fishing access site on the Salmon River.

Fishing information for Central NY is available.

Salmon River at Salmon River State Forest

Hunting & Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 6K

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



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

There is a 3.5 mile groomed snowmobile trail which provides access form Route 17 in Redfield to the Kay Road.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross country skiing


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

Salmon River State Forest had three miles of cross country ski trails that were part of the now closed Salmon Hills Cross Country Ski Resort. These trail are reverting back to the control of mother nature but provide primitive opportunities for hiking, snow showing, and cross country skiing on what are now old logging trails

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


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 borders the northern part of the Salmon River Reservoir, which provides additional opportunities for nature observation. It is not unusual to see wild turkeys, bald eagles, and grouse, as well as a wide variety of song birds and raptors, within the forest. Deer, weasel, fox, coyote, muskrat and rabbit have also found suitable habitat here.

Many different amphibians and reptiles flourish in this area, including the mountain dusky salamander, redback salamander, wood turtle, common snapping turtle, and northern water snake.


Salmon River State Forest may be accessed by taking NY I-81 to exit 36, then taking County Route 2 toward Orwell/ Redfield. County Route 2 runs diagonally through the forest, with parking areas and access roads available directly off of it, before intersecting with County Route 17, which runs north and south through the east end of the forest.

  • CCC Road Parking (43.556033°N, 75.893462°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 Salmon River 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.

Planning and Management

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Upper Salmon River Unit Management Plan (PDF) with Maps Part 1 (PDF) and Part 2 (PDF). 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

Salmon River State Forest also consists of an attractive mix of mature natural hardwood and northern hardwood-hemlock cover types. This community boasts such species as red maple, black cherry, white ash, sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch, red oak and hemlock. The conifer plantations planted by the CCC during the 1930s and 1950s further add to the diversity of trees in the forest.


Originally, the land now known as Salmon River State Forest was used exclusively by the Iroquois for hunting and fishing. As is the case with many of the lands that have since become managed by the state, the land was later cleared for farm land and timber by Revolutionary War Veterans and early settlers. However, the upland soils of the Tug Hill Plateau are characteristically rocky, highly acidic, and steep. Combined with the long and intense winters common to the region, it is easy to understand why many of these farmers were forced to abandon their properties and seek their fortune elsewhere.

The State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931 provided legislation which authorized the Conservation Department (now DEC) to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation areas. These State Forests, consisting of no less than 500 acres of contiguous land, were to be "forever devoted to reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon of forests for watershed protection, the production of timber and other forest products, and kindred purposes" (Article 9, Title 5, Environmental Conservation Law).

Salmon River State Forest was purchased by New York State during the 1930s for these purposes. It was during this period that lands cleared for agricultural practices were restored to forests. Reforestation reduced the problem of soil erosion, protected water quality, and provided forest products and recreational opportunities. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted thousands of conifer seedlings on the newly acquired lands. Evidence of their tremendous efforts can be seen today through the fully grown red pine, white pine, white spruce, Norway spruce, and European and Japanese larch, which cover the landscape.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas and food may be found in the nearby community of Redfield.
  • Lodging may be found in the nearby community of Pulaski.

Oswego 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.