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Lesser Wilderness State Forest

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Lesser Wilderness State Forest locator map

This 13,793-acre state forest is on top of the eastern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau and includes the highest elevations in Lewis County. Considered the core of Tug Hill, it has very poor soils and severe winter conditions with snows in excess of 300 inches every year. Low quality natural timber stands and large expanses of ecologically important wetland areas predominate the landscape.

Featured Activities

Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Hiking, Biking and Snowmobiling

cross country skiing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, general information on hiking, general information on biking, and general information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

This property is used for traditional activities like hiking and biking, as well as more contemporary winter activities such as cross country skiing and snowmobiling. More than 15 miles of maintained forest access roads, 1.8 miles of dedicated snowmobile trails, and 1.4 miles of roads limited to motor vehicle access for people with disabilities by permit only, round out the extensive public access offered by this unique area.

The Carpenter Road Trail System (PDF) is located on the eastern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau, an area with heavier snowfall than any other part of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. It offers 8 miles of scenic pathways for skiers in the winter and for hikers and bikers during the summer season.

The Tramp and Trail Club, located in Oneida County, has been of great assistance in trail maintenance at Carpenter Road. The trails are not groomed, but regular use keeps them in good shape. The first skier using the trails after a heavy snowfall may find themselves breaking trail through a couple feet of fluffy lake effect powder.

The recommended access point for entry to this trail system is via the Seymour Road at its intersection with the Carpenter Road. The entire trail system follows easy grades and is designed for the novice and intermediate cross country hiker/skier/biker. Please sign in at the registration box at the Seymour Road trail head.

A young boy doing cross-country skiing

The Cone Trail (0.8 miles): There is a Japanese larch plantation on state land at the intersection with the Carpenter Road. Proceeding southerly, the next block of trees is white spruce, followed by a block of red pine. Some of these blocks of trees have been managed to facilitate the production and gathering of cones, by removing the tops of the trees to induce low branch development. The cones are used for seed extraction for the production of new seedlings at the Saratoga Tree Nursery. The open land to the east is privately owned farm land, with a fine view of the Adirondacks on the eastern horizon. After passing the cone production area, there are other red pine, white spruce and Scotch pine plantings, with interspersed native hardwood trees. The Seymour Road leads to two junctions with the West Loop trail and one junction with the Crossover Trail to the Slivka Road, another unused town road.

The Return Trail (0.9 miles): This trail forms an alternate method of accessing or returning from the West Loop. The trail may be accessed from the Carpenter Road by crossing over the ditch at any point and you are on the trail. Due to the lack of wind and solar exposure, this trail normally will still be usable in the spring, long after the Cone Trail has melted out. Starting at the West Loop, the trail leads northeast through a stand of hardwoods. It then enters a block of Scotch pine, red pine and white spruce. It next enters a Japanese larch stand and then turns southeast, paralleling Carpenter Road until it meets the register.

a biker on a wooded mountain trail

The West Loop Trail (2.3 miles): This trail traverses a number of picturesque natural forest areas as well as a white spruce plantation. The southern portion of the loop follows, in part, a woods road leading to private lands.

The Short Cut Trail (0.1 miles): As the name implies, this short section of trail begins and ends on the West Loop. It passes through a grove of mixed hardwoods. It enables the user to shorten the trip around the West Loop by 3/4 mile.

The Beaver Pond Trail (0.5 miles): The main attraction of this trail is the beaver pond near which it travels. One can branch off from the West Loop, travel through some spacious hardwoods, until you reach the pond. There, one may stop and ponder the beauty of the beaver pond. The trail continues on south to the Seymour Road.

Mill Creek Run/Jack Track (1.0 miles): The south fork (Mill Creek Run) of this trail traverses a white spruce plantation and a number of scenic hardwood and softwood areas of sugar maple, red maple, balsam fir, red spruce, white cedar, and beech. This provides a scenic view of Mill Creek. After the junction with the North Fork (Jack's Track) a white spruce plantation is again encountered along the Slivka Road. There is a steep gorge just west of the intersection which blocks access from the South along the Slivka Road. Do not attempt to ski in that direction as the bridge is out. You may wish to take the Mill Creek Run on the way over to the Slivka Road and come back on Jack's Track for a change of scenery.


The Snow Ridge Loop (1.2 miles): This includes a short section of the Slivka Road which joins the terminus of this trail loop. Besides access from the Slivka Road, there is access to the Snow Ridge Loop via cross country ski trails on property owned by Snow Ridge Ski Resort. Snow Ridge, Inc. also maintains cross country ski trails on their property for public use. If these trails are to be used, Snow Ridge, Inc. regulations should be observed.

The Larch Loop/Douglas Creek Trails (1.2 miles): The newest trail in this system can be accessed via the West Loop or by the Carpenter Road parking lot. A fairly steep incline behind the parking area leads to a level trail winding through a mixture of larch and spruce plantation and natural woods. Two wooden bridges cross tributaries to Douglas Creek along this trail.

Hunting & Trapping


Wildlife Mangement Unit: 6N

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

Visitors may encounter a large variety of animal species. White-tailed deer, beaver, waterfowl, and small fur bearing animals are common.

Accessible Features

access for people with disabilities

General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.

Alder Creek Route, Dolan-Market Route and Dolsee Route are designated motorized access routes for people with qualifying disabilities for hunting and wildlife viewing. A permit from Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) can be obtained from the nearest DEC office.

Map of Lesser Wilderness State Forest


From Lyons Falls, take State Route #26/12D 4.8 miles south to Constableville. Turn right on John Street then to High Market Road. Go 5 miles to the North Road. Turn right and proceed 2 miles.

  • Smith Road Parking (N43.587156, W75.442533) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Michigan Mills Parking (N43.601010, W75.550383) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Seymour Road Ski Parking (N43.660262, W75.449221) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Carpenter Road Ski Parking (N43.662826,W75.461693) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Carpenter Road Snowmobile Parking (N43.660005, W75.447469) 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 Lesser Wilderness State Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulation and should follows all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Planning and Management

DEC developed the draft Tug Hill East Unit Management Plan (PDF, 8 MB), which describes the management activities for these lands. Public comments were accepted on the draft UMP from November 1st through December 15th, 2021. If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us at


Most of this property was acquired by the state during the 1930s and 1940s,and included abandoned open farm fields and cut over woodlands. Since that time DEC foresters have replanted the open fields and conducted many carefully controlled timber harvests aimed at improving the health and vigor of the forest.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas can be found in the nearby communities of Lyons Falls, Port Leyden and Lowville.
  • Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Lowville, Lyons Falls and Boonville.
  • Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Turin, Lyons Falls and Lowville.
  • Lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Turin, Lowville, Constableville and Boonville.

Adirondacks Tug Hill (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.