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North Country National Scenic Trail
Morgan Hill State Forest
Labrador Hollow Unique Area
Hemlock Glen, Jones Hill, Spruce Pond, Shackham Pond
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 your 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" we created on the map below. We have camped or just relaxed at the site during some of our adventures on the NCT. It includes a stone fire pit and a small level tent area next to a small stream.
Backpackers leave "Scrappy Campsite" in Morgan Hill State Forest
Waterfalls along North Country Trail in Hemlock Glen
North Country Trail crossing a power line
Hemlock Lean To
Snag tree along the NCT in Labrador Hollow Unique Area
Shackham Pond in Morgan Hill State Forest
Key points along the North Country Trail in the Morgan Hill State Forest Area:
From DEC Parking Area on NY 13 to Bardeen Road (West to East)
|Mile||Elevation||Trail Description (Follow blue blazes)|
Large DEC parking area off NY 13 at Tioughnioga River Bridge. Turn left and follow NY 13. WARNING: busy road.
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|
Cross Chickadee Hollow Rd.
Trail register and then cross seasonal dirt Chickadee Hollow Road (parking along shoulder of dirt road).
Cross under power lines.
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.
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.|
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.|
Cross Shackham Brook on footbridge and reach the Shackham Brook camping area.
Cross paved Shackham Road (shoulder parking). Soon a trail register and then start ascending, sometimes steeply.
The trail levels off.
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.|
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.|
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)
Pass close to the summit of Jones Hill to the left of the trail.
Cross small stream & logging road.
Re-enter Morgan Hill State Forest. Soon begin steep descent toward Spruce Pond.
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)
|11.3||1687 feet||Cross seasonal dirt Herilhy Road with limited parking.|
|12.4||1719 feet||Begin steep descent toward Shackham Road.|
Cross paved Shackham Road (shoulder parking)
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.
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) and the Scrappy Campsite.|
Cross seasonal dirt Rowley Hill Rd (parking). WARNING: road is rough and sometimes gated.
Cross a tributary of Fabius Brook.
State Forest Boundary, entering PRIVATE PROPERTY. Trail is now descending.
Enter edge of field, "Fabius View" (look below for a panoramic picture).
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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