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Balsam Swamp State Forest

hikingprimitive campingpaddling iconcar top boat launchfhsing iconhuntingtrappingsnowmobilingcross country skiingsnowshoeinghorseback ridingaccessible fishing icon key

Balsam Swamp State Forest locator map

Balsam Swamp State Forest totals 2,679 acres. It is a sprawling state forest that stretches almost 5.5 miles east-west across four towns. The area is very rural, and the landscape surrounding Balsam Swamp is mostly forested. There are two short multiple-use trails in the forest. There is also ample opportunity for self-guided day hikes to explore the diversity of habitats present in this State Forest.

The main attraction of this forest is Balsam Pond. The pond is approximately 152 acres and is a popular destination for fishing and paddling. The Balsam Pond boat launch site also features an accessible fishing platform.

Featured Activities



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

Short multi-purpose trails extend from North End Road to Baker's Pond and Balsam Tyler Road to Balsam Pond.


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.

A small rustic campground is also located at Balsam Pond. Camping spaces are available at no cost on a first-come, first-served basis and there is no running water or electricity. A fire ring and picnic table are provided for each camping space. Portable toilets are provided in a central location from May 1 to September 30.

Balsam Swamp State Forest

Paddling & Boating

paddling and boating

General information on paddling and general information on boating includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

A shallow concrete boat launch is available for launching small fishing boats. Due to the small size and shallow depth of Balsam Pond, use of motors less than 25hp or electric trolling motors is recommended.

A sign on Balsam-Tyler Road in Pharsalia designates the entrance to the boat launch and camping facility. This is a carry-in carry-out facility. Please do not litter.



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

Balsam Pond is a warm water fishery that contains a mix of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, brown bullhead and sunfish. Tiger muskellunge have been stocked in the past with the last stocking occurring in 1995. However, there have been very few reports of anglers catching any of the adult tiger muskies. The Balsam Pond boat launch site features an accessible fishing platform.

Fishing information for Central NY is available.

Hunting & Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 7M

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 are 2.7 miles of primary and secondary corridor snowmobile trails on the forest, including a 0.3 mile section on the seasonal portion of Burdick Hill-Pheasant Farm Rd. The eastern section of the snowmobile trail is also designated for use as a motorized access by permit only route (see map).

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.

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

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

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

Horseback riding is allowed in this state forest but there are no trails maintained for this purpose. 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.

Accessible Features

accessible fishing

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

The Balsam Pond boat launch site features an accessible fishing platform. See below for directions.

There is a trail that provides opportunity for ATV use by individuals with mobility impairments that possess a DEC permit through the Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD). The trail overlaps with the snowmobile trail and includes two dead end spur trails and a loop section for a total length of 1.7 miles (see map). The trail follows the path of long abandoned roads and farm lanes and passes through several different softwood plantations. Recent timber management is visible from the trails, along with small streams and wetlands.


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


Balsam Swamp State Forest can be accessed from numerous town roads off of County Routes 23, 7, and 10. Balsam Pond is located on Balsam-Tyler Road.

  • Balsam-Tyler Road (42.549064°N, 75.758419°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • North End Road (42.530423°N, 75.824057°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 Balsam Swamp 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 Five Streams Unit Management Plan (UMP) that covers Balsam Swamp, Five Streams, and Red Brook State Forests. 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.

DEC developed a draft update to the Five Streams UMP that describes in detail proposed management activities for public recreation on Balsam Swamp State Forest. DEC accepted comments on the draft until July 31, 2021. Questions can be emailed with the subject line "Five Streams Unit" to

Timber Management

Balsam Swamp State Forest is comprised of a mix of native hardwood forests, hemlock swamps, and conifer plantations. Additionally, the western section of Balsam Swamp State Forest is adjacent to Five Streams State Forest to the south.

As with all state forests, Balsam Swamp is actively managed for timber production. Forest management in this area focuses on maintaining the natural character of the native hardwood stands, retaining and regenerating some of the spruce plantations, and converting the pine plantations to hardwoods.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas, food, dining and lodging may be found in the nearby community of Norwich.

Chenango County Tourism Webpage (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 online 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.

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