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Hiking in Onondaga County
Morgan Hill State Forest
Here is a great hike featuring a seasonal dirt road to a scenic pond for those looking for a walk off muddy trails. Spruce Pond is a popular destination in the 5253 acre Morgan Hill State Forest, located on the Onondaga-Cortland County border southeast of Syracuse. This is an easy 0.9 mile one way hike from the trailhead to Spruce Pond. This is a great hike while waiting for the main hiking trails to dry out during spring mud season.
The start of the trail is on Herlihy Road, which is off of NY 80 west of Fabius. There is a snowplow turnaround at the end of the paved part of the road. The GPS coordinates are N42 48.700 W76 01.798 for those who have a GPS devise in their vehicle. Parking is not permitted here from November 15 to April 15. At the snowplow turnaround (parking area on map below) the orange blazed Fellows Hill Loop Trail is to the east of the road.
The boundary of Morgan Hill State Forest is where the pavement ends on Herlihy Road. From the snowplow turnaround, walk down the dirt part of Herlihy Road. This is a seasonal road that is used as a snowmobile trail in the winter. Almost immediately you'll see orange blazed Fellows Hill Loop Trail go into the woods on the right. There are little waterfalls that the Fellows Hill Loop Trail passes by. This loop trail passes by the road again at Spruce Pond.
The walk along the dirt road is pleasant. As you get closer to Spruce Pond you'll pass an old logging road on your right that has a few boulders to keep vehicles out. This logging road leads to the Fellows Hill Loop Trail at a clearing that was a logging staging area in 2010. After the logging road you'll soon start seeing primitive campsites on the right, especially as you get closer to the pond. The main dirt road veers left, where you'll go straight to reach Spruce Pond.
When you reach the small parking area, this marks the end of this hike. Across the grassy dam is a kiosk for the North Country Trail, as well as the blue blazed North Country Trail. The parking area at the pond is 0.9 miles from where you started at the snow plow turnaround. During the summer you might see campers at the campsites near the pond.
It is free to camp in Morgan Hill State Forest, with the same rules as other state lands from the DEC which include camping allowed anywhere in the forest as long as you are at least 150 feet from any road, trail or water. A special permit is required to camp in the area near Spruce Pond and Shackham Pond from the DEC. This permit is free to obtain and you can call the NY DEC State Forest Office at (607) 674-4017 ext 602 Monday-Friday 8am-4pm. No permit is required to camp at other locations in Morgan Hill State Forest.
Look below for a map of this hike. The hike is featured in red on the map. This whole hike is along seasonal dirt roads located in Morgan Hill State Forest.
Campsite near Spruce Pond
Guide to the Hiking Trails at Morgan Hill State Forest
includes Labrador Hollow Unique Area
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