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Elkdale State Forest

huntingtrappinghikinghorseback ridingsnowmobilingfishingprimitive campingpicnickingparkingicon key

Elkdale State Forest locator map

The 422-acre Elkdale State Forest is used as a base for the Operations Unit of DEC. This is the building complex you see on the grounds from Route 353. This property appears to be mostly old farm land - a house was located where the Operations Facility is today. Historically, two railroad lines crossed this property. One of these can be still be seen and is a section of the Rails-to-Trails corridor. The other has filled in with brush and is barely noticeable today.

Featured Activities

Hunting and Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 9R

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 allowed on Elkdale State Forest. Terrain can be rugged in some areas but walking up and down hills is part of the hunting experience. Forest management has provided a variety of habitats to hunt and many trails that can be used for foot access. Be aware that horses may be on the trails during hunting season.

A picnic area along the horse trail has charcoal grills and picnic tables.
A picnic area along the horse trail has charcoal
grills and picnic tables.



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

The Pat McGee Trail (leaves DEC website), a Rails-to-Trails access trail, crosses this property but is not part of the state forest. It does however provide hiking or horse access to the Elkdale Forest Road and other trails on the property. The Pat McGee Trail also provides access for snowmobile use in the winter months.

Additionally, all horse trails and roads can be used for hiking.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

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

Horse trails on the the property are maintained under an Adopt-a-Natural Resource Agreement with the Crosspatch (leaves DEC website) riding group. These trails provide approximately 5 miles of riding opportunities and connect to the Pat McGee Trail system. The trails ultimately connect Route 353 and Fourth Street and they have various loops to ride. This allows for multiple options for distance and time spent on the trail. Be aware that a section of horse trail coincides with the snowmobile trail. 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.

people enjoying horseback riding on one of the trails

The trail also allows for a stop for picnics near a pond that provides hitching rails, tables and grills for public use.

Organized trail events need to have their coordinators obtain a Temporary Revocable Permit for use of the trails prior to the event. These can be obtained from the Allegany Office at the number listed above.



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

Snowmobiles cross this forest via the Pat McGee Trail. One section of snowmobile trail and horse trail coincides. Be aware that the snowmobile trail does travel off state property - be respectful of landowners when snowmobiling and please stay on the trail. Snowmobile trails on this property are maintained by the Snow Bounders Snowmobile Club (leaves DEC website).

For more information on snowmobile trails in the area visit the New York State Snowmobile Association (leaves DEC website).



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

Fishing is not a major activity on this unit but Little Valley Creek, which runs through the state forest, may provide fishing in the spring.

the horse trail in fall, with hitching posts trailside
The horse trail in fall with trailside hitching posts


primitive camping

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

There are no designated campsites on this state forest; however, at-large backcountry 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.


From Interstate 86, take exit 20 and turn right onto Route 417/Broad Street. Turn left onto Route 353/Center Street and continue until reaching the state forest.

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

  • Fourth Street Parking Area (42.229285°N, 78.796932°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Route 353 Parking Area (42.231893°N, 78.76743°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 Elkdale 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

All motorized vehicles are restricted to access roads posted as motor vehicle trails. Off-road use of motorized vehicles such as ATVs, trail bikes and four-wheel drives is not allowed.

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 and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

State Forests are managed for multiple uses. They provide a source of raw material for New York's forest products industry which provides employment and income for many New Yorkers. They are managed for wildlife by the creation and maintenance of various habitats for many wildlife species such as deer, rabbit, grouse and turkey. They are also managed to provide recreational opportunities and watershed protection.

Timber Management

Conifer - The stands of pine were planted in old farm fields as they need open areas with direct sunlight to thrive. These will be converted to hardwoods by removal of the conifer overstory and allowing the hardwood seedlings that usually exist in these stands to grow to maturity. A trail passes through the plantation near the pond so this stand will be retained as long as possible to allow for recreational use. When this stand reaches the end of its life span and becomes a hazard to trail users it will be converted to hardwood.

Hardwood - Hardwood trees are not usually planted as they spread vast amounts of seed and naturally regenerate. Thinning of the forest through the sale of forest products gives the residual trees more growing space. This helps to 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. Some stands will contain large trees, giving an illusion of old growth, but in almost all cases they are not. These stands have been harvested prior to state ownership or managed during state ownership to favor large trees. Many other stands are mature and ready to be regenerated to new stands. This is usually done by a thinning to promote regeneration of new seedlings, followed by an overstory removal. Forest stands that are dominated by species that require direct sunlight for reproduction are managed in this way. Forest stands that contain oak species may require the use of fire or other types of disturbance to maintain this forest type. Some stands on this property were damaged by the Forest Tent caterpillar. This lead to the death of what were vigorous stands of sugar maple trees. The dead trees were later salvaged for lumber and some of the trails created for this salvage operation are now used as horse trails.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas, lodging, food and other supplies, and dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Ellicottville and Salamanca.

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.