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Hiking in Cortland County
Kennedy State Forest
The James D. Kennedy Memorial State Forest was named in memory of the District Forester James D. Kennedy. The 4422 acre forest is located in the towns of Harford, Lapeer and Virgil on Babcock Hollow, Baldwin, Bleck, Cook Hill, Courtney Hill, Cortwright, Hauck Hill, Hilsinger, O'Dell, Owego Hill, Quail Hollow, Scutt Hill, Valentine Hill and Van Donsel Roads.
The forest was established between 1931 and 1974 to reduce soil erosion, produce forest products, help stabilize the tax base, and provide recreational opportunities. Most of the landscape was cleared of trees for agriculture during the mid-to- late 19th century by European settlers.
Between 1931 and 1976 over 2 million pine, spruce, cedar, larch and red oak were planted. The trees were planted by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp S-125 based in Slaterville Springs, NY; Conservation Department employees; Camp Pharsalia crews and social service crews.
Today the forest provides a diverse group of ecological, economic, and recreational services. This is probably the most visited state forest in Cortland County.
A few primitive camping spots are located behind this gate off Hauck Hill Road
James D. Kennedy Memorial State Forest is a popular area for recreational activities such as hunting, hiking, fishing, bird watching, camping, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, trapping, and snowshoeing.
There are many recreational resources within James D. Kennedy Memorial State Forest. There are 12 miles of snowmobile trails that are part of corridor trails 2B, 5A, and 5B. They provide snowmobiling between Dryden, Cortland, and Marathon. There are over 10 miles of Finger Lakes Trail / North Country Trail.
The Dabes Diversion Trail, Kuzia Cut Off Trail, Virgil Mountain Trail, Spanish Loop Trail and the new Swedish Loop Trail are also located in the forest. These spur trails are part of the 900+ mile Finger Lakes Trail System. There are four miles of cross-country ski trails as well as the Foxfire Lean-to.
There are also 3 Public Forest Access Roads,(PFARs) within James D. Kennedy Memorial State Forest. They are: Scutt PFAR (2.1 Miles in length), Courtney Hill PFAR (0.8 Miles in length), and Cotton Hanlon PFAR (0.9 Miles in Length). PFAR's are permanent unpaved roads that are open to public use unless gated or otherwise noted.
Camping is free in this state forest as it is in most other state forests 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 good camping location in the forest is off seasonal dirt Hauck Hill Road at the yellow gate. Park along the side of the road and a few primitive campsites are on the other side of the gate a short walk away.
This part of Hauck Hill Road is part of the Dabes Diversion Trail and this primitive camping area is located just west of the Kuzia Cut Off Trail. Hikers will find many great hiking opportunities in this state forest.
To access the forest there are numerous roads that pass through this state forest. From Virgil and NY 392 --> Owego Hill Rd, Daisy Hollow Rd, Babcock Hollow Rd, Van Donsell Rd, O'Dell Rd, Bleck Rd and Baldwin Rd all access this large state forest.
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