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Bear Creek State Forest

Bear Creek State Forest locator map

hikingsnowmobilinghorseback ridinghuntingtrappingprimitive campingparking icon key

The 547-acre Bear Creek State Forest is a popular hunting, hiking, snowmobiling and horseback riding destination.

Because there were a number of stream crossings on Bear Creek Road that were difficult to maintain, that road was replaced by the Upper Bear Creek Road. The old road was abandoned and is now part of the state forest. Only the western end still exists as a haul road.

This property was mostly farm land at one time. In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) carried out a number of projects at Bear Creek State Forest. The CCC, established by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, provided employment opportunities for young men during the Great Depression. Projects included the planting of thousands of pine, larch and spruce trees and a small number of oak trees in the open areas on the property, which still exist today.

upper bear creek forest road
Upper Bear Creek forest road is not open to motor
vehicles but can be used for other recreation.

Featured Activities



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

The North Country trail is the only hiking trail on the property, leading up to, across, and back down the top of a hill. It begins near the gate on Mann Road and ends near the gate on Upper Bear Creek Road. The Finger Lakes Trail Conference (leaves DEC website) and Foothills Trail Club (leaves DEC website) have adopted the trail.



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

Part of the C2F snowmobile trail crosses the south end of the property. The trail is maintained by the Franklinville Snowmobile Club (leaves DEC website) through a volunteer stewardship agreement.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

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

There is a designated horse trail that follows the old Bear Creek Road and is marked with blue trail markers. It does not provide a loop on this property, but roads can be used to make a loop if desired.

The trail is maintained by the Creekside Roundup (leaves DEC website) through a volunteer stewardship agreement. Coordinators of organized trail events need to obtain a Temporary Revocable Permit for use of the trails prior to the event. These can be obtained at the Allegany office.

Hunting and Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 9M

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

Hunting and trapping are permitted on the property in accordance with all game regulations, unless otherwise posted. Traps may not be set on public road right of ways. Body gripping traps set on land must be at least 100 feet from public trails.


primitive camping

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

There are no designated campsites; however, at-large 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.


To access the state forest from Franklinville take Route 16 north to Upper Bear Creek Road, turn left and drive for about 1 mile. Look for the yellow gate on Lower Bear Creek Forest Road on the left. This road is not open to motor vehicles.

There are two small parking areas on the state forest. All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

  • Upper Bear Creek Road parking area (42.360664°N, 78.477978°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Bear Creek Road parking area (42.353509°N, 78.498527°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

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 Bear Creek 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.

Specific Rules

Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and mountain biking are allowed within the property but there are no designated trails or maintained areas for these activities.

Planning and Management

DEC has developed a Draft Cattaraugus Unit Management Plan (UMP) which describes the proposed management activities for these lands. In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

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

Timber Management

Conifer - The stands of pine were planted in old farm fields as they need open areas with direct sunlight to thrive. These stands will be converted to hardwoods by removing the conifer overstory and allowing the hardwood seedlings that usually exist in these stands to grow to be a new hardwood forest. There have been some major conifer removal projects over the years and the removal of non-native conifer species will continue as rapidly as possible. Some planted conifer stands will be retained on steep slopes and near Bear Creek.

Hardwood - Hardwood trees are not usually planted as they spread vast amounts of seed and naturally regenerate. Bear Creek State Forest has a limited number of hardwood stands. The ones on this property are even aged stands that grew up out of areas that were pasture. Over time, these will be thinned to allow the remaining trees to grow into mature forest habitat. Thinning of the hardwood forest through the sale of forest products gives the residual trees more growing space. This helps keep the forest healthy and provides openings for new seedlings, a revolving supply of food and cover for wildlife, and a source of future crop trees.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas, dining opportunities, and food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Machias and Franklinville.
  • Lodging can be found in the nearby community of Franklinville.

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

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.