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Hiking in Onondaga County
Hiking in Cortland County
New York State Lands
Looking for somewhere in central New York to camp, hike or just relax? Take a drive to the southeastern part of the county and explore the 5253 acre Morgan Hill State Forest. The state forest is located in between the towns of Fabius, Truxton and Cuyler. This scenic state forest is perfect for outdoor recreational activities such as hunting, hiking, fishing, camping, bird watching, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. Look below or above for links for hiking in this state forest.
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 Hemlock Lean To as well as all other locations in Morgan Hill State Forest.
Campsite near Spruce Pond
Morgan Hill State Forest is a very popular area because of its exquisite scenic beauty, excellent hiking opportunities and easy accessibility. The upland forests range from 1,200 to 2,000 feet in elevation, with several small valleys and creeks intermittently bisecting the almost completely forested landscape. The highest point in Onondaga County is located in this state forest.
The North Country National Scenic Trail crosses Shackham Road twice, so access into the forest via the NCT is very easy. This blue blazed trail runs almost 15 miles through the forest and is also known as the Onondaga Trail. There is one shelter along the trail. The Hemlock Lean To is located just off the trail between Morgan Hill Road and Shackham Road.
If you explore in the forest, you may find the remnants from the folks that once lived on this land. There is also an old 1840's family cemetery that can be reached via the North Country Trail near Shackham Pond. The diversity of forest cover and wildlife provides for great hunting, camping, hiking and simply enjoying nature.
Guide to the Hiking Trails at Morgan Hill State Forest
includes Labrador Hollow Unique Area
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Here are some of this state forest's most popular destinations:
Hemlock Glen is popular for its beauty plus numerous small waterfalls and cascades. The North Country National Scenic Trail allows for easy access to this scenic wonder just off Shackham Road.
Spruce Pond is popular for its fishing. The pond is regularly stocked with trout. Many people also find this a great place for viewing nature as well as taking photographs of the wildlife and wild flowers. This scenic pond is a great place for a picnic. Camping is allowed at Spruce Pond, but only at designated sites with a FREE permit from the DEC.
Shackham Pond is also a very popular location for fishing and canoeing plus it's beautiful scenery. Camping is allowed with a free permit from the DEC. The North Country National Scenic Trail travels past both these scenic ponds.
Fellows Hill at an elevation of 2019 feet, is one of the highest points within Onondaga County and the orange blazed Fellows Hill Loop Trail allows visitors to access the tree summit. The Fellows Hill Loop Trail also passes by Spruce Pond as well as some small cascades and starts at the North Country Trail kiosk.
Morgan Hill at one time had a fire tower at one of it's "summits" located in Cortland County (2000 feet). The area is now used for free primitive camping by some. The North Country Trail passes about 0.1 mile from an old fire tower site on Morgan Hill. The highest point in Onondaga County is located on Morgan Hill, east of seasonal dirt Morgan Hill Road at an elevation of 2057 feet, although this is on private property and not on state land.
Chickadee Hollow is the least visited section of the state forest due to it's lack of main trails leading into the hollow. Morgan Hill Road and Chickadee Hollow Road are close to the hollow.
Labrador Hollow Unique Area is located right next to Morgan Hill State Forest. Many visitors to Morgan Hill also explore Tinker Falls, Jones Hill as well as Labrador Pond; all located in this truly unique area.
There is some confusion about Spicer Falls. These falls are located on private property and although at one time the North Country Trail aka Onondaga Trail passed by the falls, the trail has been closed by the landowner on their property. Spicer Falls is not open to the public.
Kyra on the North Country Trail in Morgan Hill State Forest April 2015
From NY 80 or NY 91, Morgan Hill State Forest may be accessed from paved Shackham Road, which runs north and south through the state forest . There is also access by taking NY 13 toward Truxton, NY, and NY 91. Continue past NY 91 about 1 mile and then turn left onto Morgan Hill Road which runs into the southern portion of the forest and becomes a Public Forest Access Road.
Also from NY 80 take Herlihy Road into the state forest (this also becomes a Public Forest Access Road). The Public Forest Access Roads are not plowed in the winter. Shackham Road is plowed.
The best way to access the forest during the winter and spring is by using paved Shackham Road. Remember that hunting is very popular in this state forest and visitors should take extra care during hunting season by wearing blaze orange. There are also numerous logging/skid trails and it can be easy to wonder off the main marked trails onto one of these trails used by loggers. Be sure to be aware of your surroundings and don't get lost!
Hiking Opportunities in Morgan Hill State Forest
Fellows Hill Loop Chickadee Hollow Loop Rowley Hill Loop Morgan Hill Short Loop Morgan Hill Long Loop Spruce-Shackham Pond Loop Jones Hill Loop Hemlock Glen Spruce Pond & Jones Hill Shackham Falls Parker Falls Morgan Hill Creek Campsite Spruce Pond Shackham Pond
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Hemlock Lean To
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