Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Downerville State Forest

BikinghikingPrimitive CampingHuntingTrappingFishingParkingicon key

Downerville State Forest locator map

Downerville State Forest covers 1,443 acres. The topography is variable with upland areas supporting a mixture of northern hardwood, hemlock, and white pine forests. Pine and spruce plantations were established on what were formerly farm fields and pastures. Flatter ground supports open wetlands and shrub swamps, which gradually transition to swamp hardwoods in seasonal flooded areas.

This state forest has extensive frontage along the Grass River (2.9 miles) and the North Branch of the Grass River (1.5 miles). Elevation ranges from 1,009 feet on Palmer Hill down to 640 feet in the bottomlands near the confluence of the two rivers.

Featured Activities

Mountain Biking


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

The St. Lawrence County Mountain Biking Association (leaves DEC website) has partnered with the DEC through an Adopt-A-Natural-Resource Stewardship agreement to create an extensive mountain biking and hiking trail system on this forest. There are currently more than 11 miles of trails available, ranging from gently rolling loops to steep technical trails which descend to the river valley. A detailed map of the trail system along with trail descriptions is available above.



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

The eastern boundary of this state forest is adjacent to the Grass River Wild Forest, part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

mountain bikers s on a trail in Downerville
Mountain Biking in Downerville


primitive camping

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

There are two designated camp sites on this property, located along the Downerville Road and the River Public Forest Access Road.

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.

Hunting and Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 6C

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

All 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.



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

Fishing is permitted in the nearby Grass River.


This forest can be accessed from the Downerville and Backus Roads, and the River Public Forest Access Road (PFAR) in the town of Russell.

The ford across the North Branch of the Grass River is closed to motor vehicle traffic due to dangerous high water levels and swift currents. The roads to the south of the ford near Palmer Hill were also extensively damaged by heavy rains in 2005. Users can cross the river on foot when water levels are low.

The view of the Grass River from atop Palmer Hill
View of the Grass River from Palmer Hill
  • River PFAR Parking Area & Kiosk: (N44.425735, W75.107444) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Gravel Pit Parking Area: (N44.430682, W75.102489) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

There are 2 parking areas available along the River Public Forest Access Road. One is located at the old gravel bed on the left hand side of the road, and the other is at the kiosk and campsite on the right just before reaching the North Branch of the Grass River.

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.

All users of Downerville State Forest must follow all State Forest Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Don't Move Firewood: the insects it carries could kill the forests you love.

Planning and Management

DEC has developing a unit management plan (UMP) which describes the management activities for these lands. Downerville is one of 13 state forests and one conservation easement managed under the St. Lawrence Foothills Unit Management Plan. In addition to forestry management objectives, the UMP will contain 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

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities and Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Lodging, dining, gas, and food and other supplies may be found in the nearby communities of Gouverneur and Canton.

St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce (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.

  • PDF Help
  • For help with PDFs on this page, please call 315-265-3090.
  • Contact for this Page
    190 Outer Main Street, Suite 103
    Potsdam, NY 13676
    Send us an email
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to Region 6