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Onondaga Trail

Morgan Hill State Forest
Labrador Hollow Unique Area

Hemlock Glen, Jones Hill,
Spruce Pond, Shackham Pond

 

Guide to the Hiking Trails
at Morgan Hill State Forest
includes Labrador Hollow Unique Area
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This nearly 17 mile stretch of trail may be one of the most popular sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail within central New York, as well as all of New York and possibly along the whole 4600 miles of the trail.  This is one of our favorite sections of the North Country Trail and we've logged many miles along the well worn path in Morgan Hill State Forest. The trail enters the state forest from private property from NY 13.

The North Country Trail coincides with the Onondaga Trail in Morgan Hill State Forest.  The Onondaga Trail is one of six branch trails of the Finger Lakes Trail System.  This trail system has well over 900 miles of hiking trails in New York.  This seventeen mile section of trail has numerous ups and downs as well as some steep sections.  This difficult stretch of the the NCT has an overall elevation gain of just over 3000 feet.  If you're looking for a challenging hiking adventure, the NCT in Morgan Hill State Forest is for you.

There are numerous camping opportunities along the trail in the state forest including the Hemlock Lean-To. There are many scenic sections of the trail including Hemlock Glen, Tinker Falls, the view from the hang glider spot on Jones Hill, Spruce Pond and Shackham Pond. A new staircase was built in 2010 to eliminate some steep sections near the top of Tinker Falls, as well as new switchbacks.  There is a footbridge that was built in 2007 over Shackham Brook. The trail travels by an old family cemetery near Shackham Pond.

The trail leaves the state forest soon after crossing Fabius Brook and enters private land then soon there are views of the small hamlet of Fabius.   It is because of the generosity of the landowners that the trail is able to pass through this great area.  Please be sure to stay on the trail and respect the landowners rights.  There is also a section of trail near the Jones Hill vista that travels on private property.  The area around Tinker Falls and Jones Hill is in Labrador Hollow Unique Area.  There is no camping allowed in Labrador Hollow Unique Area as well as on private property.

The stretch of the North Country Trail from NY 13 to the Morgan Hill State Forest boundary is CLOSED for HUNTING from Nov 15-Dec 25. Please respect the landowners request and stay off this section of trail during these dates.

This section of trail is maintained by the Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club.  If your interesting in more information about this hiking club, join or volunteer, see their website at ADK-Onondaga Chapter.  Check below for a topo map, a few pictures and detailed description of this section of the trail. You'll even find the "Scrappy Campsite" where we like to camp occasionally on the map below. This site includes a stone fire pit and a small level tent area next to a small reliable stream. 

Backpackers leaving the "Scrappy Campsite" in Morgan Hill State Forest

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Waterfalls along North Country Trail in Hemlock Glen

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North Country Trail crossing a power line

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Hemlock Lean To

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Snag tree along the NCT in Labrador Hollow Unique Area

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Shackham Pond in Morgan Hill State Forest

Mile Elevation Trail Description (Follow blue blazes)
0.0 1178 feet

Large DEC parking area off NY 13 at Tioughnioga River Bridge.  Turn left and follow NY 13. WARNING: busy road.

0.4 1188 feet Turn right on West Keeney Road and then a quick left off road onto farm tractor lane.  Entering PRIVATE PROPERTY. STAY ON TRAIL.
NOTE:
This stretch of trail from here to the Morgan Hill State Forest boundary is CLOSED for HUNTING from Nov 15 to Dec 25.
0.6 1207 feet Turn left
0.7 1234 feet Turn right
0.8 1267 feet Turn left and begin steep uphill climb with many switchbacks.
1.85 1764 feet Turn left
2.0 1816 feet Cross an old section of Chickadee Hollow Road.
2.5 1844 feet Cross an old section of Chickadee Hollow Road.  Entering Morgan Hill State Forest
2.95 1861 feet

Cross Chickadee Hollow Rd.

3.3 1870 feet

Trail register and then cross seasonal dirt Chickadee Hollow Road (parking along shoulder of dirt road).

4.0 1854 feet

Cross under power lines.

5.1 1998 feet

Highest point along trail in Morgan Hill State Forest. Off to your right is the old Morgan Hill Fire Tower & camping area. No water available here.

5.3 1939 feet

Cross seasonal dirt Morgan Hill Rd (parking along shoulder of road).  Begin descending.

5.65 1809 feet Cross a scenic ravine.  This is Hemlock Glen Brook that your crossing.  Soon turn right on old snowmobile trail.
5.75 1828 feet Turn right off old snowmobile trail and begin steep descent into Hemlock Glen.
6.1 1554 feet

Cross Hemlock Glen Brook and then reach a side trail to right leads 150 feet to Hemlock Lean-To

6.3 1454 feet Pass a campsite on the right and soon a small waterfall on the left.
6.8 1304 feet

Cross Shackham Brook on footbridge and reach the Shackham Brook camping area.

6.9 1349 feet

Cross paved Shackham Road (shoulder parking).  Soon a trail register and then start ascending, sometimes steeply.

7.6 1828 feet

The trail levels off.

8.1 1795 feet

Enter Labrador Hollow Unique Area.  The descent will soon become steeper.

8.3 1684 feet Pass an impressive stone bench.  Continue steep descent on switchbacks.
8.65 1422 feet

Descend on wooden stairs and soon reach ledge/rim of Tinker Falls.  Trail will ascend quickly on switchbacks.

8.8 1529 feet Junction of the orange blazed Skyline Trail. Blue blazed North Country Trail turns right.  Skyline Trail goes straight steeply ascending to NY 91 parking area in 0.3 miles.
9.1 1718 feet Turn right on hang glider access road.
9.4 1862 feet Turn right off hang glider access road.
9.7 1903 feet

Reach clearing with great views to the west.  This spot is known as the hang glider spot. Soon enter PRIVATE PROPERTY. (B&B Lumber Land)

9.9 1959 feet

Pass close to the summit of Jones Hill to the left of the trail.

10.4 1746 feet

Cross small stream & logging road.

10.7 1904 feet

Re-enter Morgan Hill State Forest.  Soon begin steep descent toward Spruce Pond.

11.0 1700 feet Junction of the orange blazed Fellows Hill Loop Trail.
11.1 1694 feet

Reach North Country Trail Kiosk & Spuce Pond. (Parking 150 feet to left) Spruce Pond Camping area along east side of pond (FREE permit from DEC needed to camp). Orange blazed Fellows Hill Loop Trail goes left here.

11.3 1687 feet Cross seasonal dirt Herilhy Road with limited parking.
11.7 1576 feet

Trail register.

12.4 1719 feet Begin steep descent toward Shackham Road.
12.8 1538 feet

Cross paved Shackham Road (shoulder parking)

12.9 1505 feet

Shackham Pond is to the left as well as a campsite.  Turn right and pass by old small cemetery on your right. Trail passes pond on open area, then turns left into woods.

13.45 1504 feet

Cross seasonal dirt Onondaga One Rd (Herlihy Rd EXT) (Parking)

13.85 1501 feet To the left of the trail is a stone rock fire pit near a small stream (about 100+ feet from trail) known as the Scrappy Campsite.
14.65 1544 feet

Cross seasonal dirt Rowley Hill Rd (parking).  WARNING: road is rough and sometimes gated.

14.8 1497 feet

Cross a tributary of Fabius Brook.

15.4 1620 feet

State Forest Boundary, entering PRIVATE PROPERTY.  Trail is now descending.

15.8 1454 feet

Enter edge of field, "Fabius View" (look below for a panoramic picture).

16.9 1243 feet

Trail register, reach West Keeney Road turn right and finally reach Bardeen Road, which is the end of this section.  See NCT in Highland Forest for continuation.

 

Fabius View from along the North Country Trail

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