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Rock City and McCarty Hill State Forests

hikingprimitive campingbikinghuntingtrappingsnowmobilingCross-country skiingSnowshoeingparkingicon key

McCarty Hill State Forest locator map

Rock City and McCarty Hill State Forests cover approximately 6,229 acres. The two state forests share a boundary and have connecting trails. McCarty Hill State Forest shares a boundary with Holiday Valley and HoliMont ski areas and has become a year-round destination resort area.

Featured Activities



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

Finger Lakes/North Country Scenic Trail

A trail in the forest with some downed trees

The North Country Scenic Trail (leaves DEC website), which also forms part of the Finger Lakes Trail (leaves DEC website), runs from the southern boundary of Rock City State Forest to the northern boundary of McCarty Hill State Forest. The trail is limited to hiking only.

From the trailhead on Stone Chimney Rd, the trail heads uphill in a northeasterly direction towards the "Rocks" of Little Rock City. The trail passes through "Little Rock City" where it intersects the Little Rock City Trail and continues to Camp Seneca along Hungry Hollow Road, then over the hill to Mutton Hollow Road, near the new snow making ponds on the adjacent Holiday Valley ski area.

Little Rock City Nature Trail

Access to this trail is from the end of Little Rock City Forest Road at the turn-around loop. This trail loops through the rocks and intersects the North Country Scenic Trail where it can be followed back to Little Rock City Forest Road. This area is closed to bikes and horses. It is maintained by the Foothills Trail Club through a volunteer stewardship agreement.

Camp Seneca Loop Trail

This is a loop trail that starts near the pond at Camp Seneca and links into the North Country Scenic Trail.


primitive camping

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

camp here disk

There are designated camp sites available with covered picnic tables at the Camp Seneca and Little Rock City day use areas. The Little Rock City area has four available sites that are tent camping only. Camping at both day use areas is allowed at designated sites only and there is no water supply. Look for our yellow "camp here" disks (shown in picture at right) which designate camp sites on the property. In total there are 14 designated camping sites on these two properties.

At-large primitive camping is also 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 biking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

A network of mountain bike/multiple-use trails cover this unit. Multiple trailheads exist and access to these can be made from adjacent ski areas as well as from parking areas on the State Forests. These trails are excellent hiking trails; some can be used for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing but the steep terrain in places can be challenging for this type of activity.

Most of these trails require a high level of mountain bike riding skill. They are a great ride if you are an expert rider and are also great hiking trails. The Western New York Mountain Bicycling Association has adopted these trails. They have trail maps and more information at the WNYMBA website (leaves DEC website). Organized bike events require a Temporary Revocable Permit which can be obtained by contacting the Allegany DEC Forestry Office at 716-372-0645.

Hunting & 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.



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

Snowmobile access is at the end of Eagle Forest Road near the Ellicottville School. It climbs the hill to McCarty Hill East Forest Road, to Mutton Hollow Road, and then turns to the south on CCC Forest Road over and down the hill to the southwest where it intersects with Hungry Hollow Road heading west. The trail then heads south on Little Rock City Forest Road to Echert Forest Road where the trail heads west to the intersection of Stone Chimney Forest Road and then continues over the hill to south and leaves state land on Stone Chimney Road near the Elkdale Country Club.

Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Cross-country skiing

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

All trails may be used. Trails can be steep and rocky in some areas but there are flat parts at the top of the plateau. Access is usually from the ski areas but you can also snowshoe or ski up the snow-covered town roads if you desire an easier terrain.


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

Due to the large number of oak and hickory trees this is a great area to view wildlife such as turkey, deer, bear and squirrel. Occasionally you may flush a grouse in areas that have been recently harvested.


From Little Valley, take Route 242 which travels through the forest on the west side of Murder Hill. From Route 353 at Elkdale take Whig Street. Then take a right turn at the Whig Street Church onto Hungry Hollow Road which will take you to the top of the hill for access to the Little Rock City Forest Road or over the hill to Camp Seneca. If you go straight on Whig Street and take a right at the fork, this will take you to the North Country Scenic Trail trailhead near the Cattaraugus County communications tower.

From Great Valley, take County Road 38, Mutton Hollow Road, to the same location. From 219 just north of Salamanca, take Hungry Hollow Road. This will take you past Camp Seneca and up to the Little Rock City Forest Road. CCC Forest Road connects Hungry Hollow and Mutton Hollow Roads.

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

  • Mutton Hollow parking area near Spruce Lake and tower - This serves the northwestern boundary of McCarty Hill State Forest. Travel north from the town of Little Valley taking Route 242. Continue approximately 3 miles and turn right onto Whig Street. Follow this road to the intersection of Mutton Hollow Road and turn left. The parking lot will be on the right at the top of the hill across from the tower. From here the North Country Scenic Trail and the mountain biking trails can be accessed. (42.257653°N, 78.697152°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Little Rock City parking area in the southeastern side of Rock City State Forest - Traveling from Salamanca, take Route 353 north. Then take a right turn onto Whig Street. After a mile or so, bear right (left will bring you to a dead end). This is Little Rock City Forest Road which will bring you into Little Rock City Day Use Area. (42.208452°N, 78.707919°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Camp Seneca parking area - Follow 219 north from Salamanca on Route 219 turning left onto Hungry Hollow Road (from the north you will turn left onto Hungry Hollow Road). You will continue roughly 3 miles. The parking lot and facilities will be on the left. (42.224433°N, 78.700171°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Eagle Forest Road parking area - Traveling south from Ellicottville, head south on Route 219 for approximately 2.5 miles. Turn right onto Eagle Forest Road. Continue a short distance to find the parking area. (42.250212°N, 78.656738°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 McCarty Hill and Rock City State Forests 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

Horseback riding is not permitted on the property except along town roads or Public Access Forest Roads: Salamanca Forest Road, Eckert Forest Road, Little Rock City Forest Road, CCC Cross Forest Road, and McCarty Hill East Forest Road.

Planning and Management

DEC has developed a Draft Cattaraugus Unit Management Plan (UMP) which describes the proposed management activities for this 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.

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

Timber Management

The hardwood forests at Rock City and McCarty Hill are managed to grow timber, maintain diverse wildlife habitats and provide recreational opportunities while protecting water quality. The existing forest stands are for the most part even-age stands that have resulted from earlier clear cuts or cleared for farming. These early clear cuts allowed the establishment of Allegany hardwood tree species which are unique to northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York. They usually consist of black cherry, white ash, red maple, sugar maple and may include red oak, tulip popular, basswood, beech, birch and a mix of other northern hardwoods. Early successional oak stands will gradually become other types of hardwood stands if they are not managed to sustain the oaks. White oak and Eastern white pine, which may not be common in this area as they once were, have been allowed to establish a presence here. Oak, white pine and hemlock are important for species diversity including wildlife habitat and therefore are maintained in managed stands.

Thinning of the forest through the sale of forest products gives the residual trees more growing space. Managing these stands allows the forest to maintain its health. It also provides openings for new seedlings to establish themselves, affords a revolving food supply for wildlife and provides cover for wildlife.

Forest stands that contain oak species often require the use of fire or other types of man-made and natural disturbance to maintain the long-term feasibility of this forest type.

Our forests are "Green Certified" meaning all ecological aspects are looked at when timber harvests are conducted. It is not uncommon to use things like trail and stream buffers to protect ecological, historical and aesthetic assets on the property during these harvests.


Old cabin in the rocks, around late 1930's

During the late 1920s and 1930s the New York State Legislature authorized the acquisition of lands outside the Adirondack and Catskill Park boundaries for the purposes of reforestation, wildlife management, recreation and watershed protection. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), established by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s, provided employment opportunities for young men during the Great Depression. As a result, Rock City and McCarty Hill State Forests became the site of many work projects. Some of these can still be seen today, like the stone-lined walkways to the barracks, Norway spruce seedlings that are now mature, and a pond that supplied water to the camp and to the tree nursery. Even the construction of Camp Seneca was a CCC work project.

On Rock City State Forest, a CCC camp was built called Camp Seneca. CCC camps were run by the US Army and were laid out like Army camps. The stone-lined walkways to the barracks are still visible today and a few have been restored. Water was pumped from the pond up to the top of a series of terraces--these terraces were used to grow the tree seedlings. The terraces were arranged so the water would flow from one terrace down to the next by gravity flow until all the new trees were watered. The seed beds are now over grown with forest but with careful inspection they can be located today. The site of Camp Seneca is used as a recreation site today. Picnic tables and a small pavilion are located where some of the main buildings of the CCC camp were located. Some of the local projects done by the camp residents were building parts of what are now Hungry Hollow Road, CCC Forest Road and Little Rock City Forest Road.

Late in the summer of 2010, a tornado touched down on the state forest area off Hungry Hollow Road. It leveled 80 acres of mature forest. It was then put out to bid for a salvage timber sale. The logging company harvested what wood was usable and left the course woody debris to create habitat for wildlife and also to put nutrients back into the soil for future forest growth.


The area around "Little Rock City" tells the geologic history of Western New York. The conglomerate rock is younger and very different than the bedrock in Western New York. During the late Devonian period (circa 370 million years ago) this area was on the shore of an ancient sea. Here, streams flowing from the Acadian Mountains in what is now New England and New Jersey mixed with the sea. Sediment was transported by the streams and deposited by the sea currents. Occasionally, a red Jasper stone can be found among the conglomerate. According to the Theory of Continental Drift, all of North America was rotated 450 degrees clockwise during the Devonian period; meaning Lake Superior would have been due northwest of this area. This would allow sea currents to transport the Jasper pebbles into this area.

Over time the conglomerate was buried under thousands of feet of sedimentary rock, similar to that of Allegany State Park in Pennsylvania. The overlying rock was then eroded during the Alleghanian Orogeny, or mountain building, which uplifted Eastern North America (circa 290 million years ago). It was this event, resulting from the collision of North America and Africa, which formed the supercontinent Pangaea. Over time, erosion released pressure allowing the conglomerate to expand and crack. These cracks, called joints, along with joints formed by horizontal compression during orogeny itself, resulted in two sets of intersecting perpendicular lines which, through weathering, widened to become the pathways separating the blocks.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas may be found in the nearby communities of Ellicottville.
  • Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Ellicottville, Little Valley and Salamanca.
  • Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Ellicottville, Little Valley and Salamanca.
  • Lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Ellicottville and Salamanca.

The Enchanted Mountains (leaves DEC website) and the Cattaraugus County Economic Development Office (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

Holliday Valley and HoliMont (links leave DEC website) are two ski resorts located just north of the property that offer a diverse recreational experience.

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.