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Hiking in Jefferson County
Hiking in Lewis County
New York State Lands
Situated in the northern portion of the Tug Hill Plateau is the spectacular Tug Hill State Forest. It is located adjacent to NY 177 in Jefferson County, Town of Rodman, and also in Lewis County, Town of Pinckney. Traversing this 12,000 acre woodland are a number of cross country ski trails with skill levels varying from novice to intermediate that are used as hiking trails in the spring, summer and fall.
These trails run through a variety of terrain from level and slightly uphill/gentle downhill to more challenging climbs and downhill runs on intermediate trails. The land cover types range from northern hardwoods and conifer plantations to open wetlands. Trails pass through deer yards (used by over-wintering deer), and cross over Fish Creek (by bridge). Some trails provide spectacular views of Inman Gulf. These trails are well maintained and marked. There is a map below.
The most popular hike in this state forest is the Inman Gulf Loop Hike.
Tug Hill State Forest Trail information
Below is a list of the trails that are located in the Tug Hill State Forest. Much of the land was purchased for $4 per acre in 1933 when it was abandoned agricultural land. All cuttings to date have been to thin out the forest, which remove surplus growing stock to give more growing space to the healthiest trees. Many thousands of dollars have been returned to the State Treasury from the sale of logs, poles, pulpwood and firewood.
Access to these cross-country ski trails is from the north side of NY 177, about two miles west of Barnes Corners and .75 mile east of the intersection of NY 177 and County Route 189.
Home run Trail (Novice Skill, 1.0 mile)
This trail starts at the parking area in a stand of European larch and red pine. You pass Snowbird Loop on the left and, further on, Whiteway Trail to the right. Proceeding northerly, there is a slight uphill slope for 200 yards, followed by a half-mile run through a fine northern-hardwood forest. Snowbird Loop then intersects from the left. When you go downhill, after crossing a tributary of Fish Creek, you pass through a hemlock stand used by over wintering deer. The Home run Trail ends at Times Square, one mile from the access point.
Snowbird Loop (Intermediate Skill, 1.7 miles)
This loop runs westerly from the parking area and parallels Route 177 for .5 mile. You will pass through plantations of red pine, larch and white pine and then turn northerly, reaching a knoll of hardwood overlooking a bridge over Fish Creek. A short steep pitch to the bridge is followed by a long stretch of hardwoods, that includes black cherry, white ash and beech. You then climb a long grade, followed by a gentle downhill run, before intersecting the Home run Trail again. If you reverse your direction on this loop (not recommended for most skiers) you will have a challenging downhill run. Some maintenance to Snowbird and Linkup is done by the Black River Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club.
Electric Loop (Novice Skill, 2.2 miles)
This loop traverses plantations of red pine, white pine and white spruce. The westerly section parallels the Lighthouse Hill transmission line. Completed in 1925, this electric line carries 115,000 volts from Black River generating plants to Altmar, N.Y. No matter which direction you take on the Electric Loop, you will circle back to Times Square. The entrance to Explorer Trail is adjacent to the lean-to built in 1982 by Steve Wood of Boy Scout Troop 7, with help from the Black River chapter ADK.
Zigzag Trail (Novice Skill, 0.6 miles)
Does just that, it zigzags! The trail turns north off Snowbird Loop, bypasses some hills and joins Snowbird again, where a bridge crosses Fish Creek.
Whiteway Trail (Novice Skill, 1.8 miles)
The trail leaves Times Square in an easterly direction and passes through stands of white spruce, red pine and native hardwood. It also crosses two open wetlands. Williams Truck Road, a DEC maintained access road, lies just to the north. A short 10 percent slope, about .25 mile from the intersection with Home run Trail, gives an exciting downhill run to skiers going clockwise around the loop. Turn left here to return to the parking lot, 700 feet away.
Linkup Trail (Intermediate Skill, 2.5 miles)
Connecting to the County Trail system, this trail runs easterly from the parking area and soon turns south, crossing Route 177. Watch out for vehicles! You will ski through stands of Japanese larch, northern hardwoods, young white spruce and mixed conifers, up two steep hills, and across a bridge built by ADK over a tributary of Grunley Creek. Cross Denning Road, then ski through some scotch pine and across Grunley Creek. Proceeding through white spruce, hardwood, and red pine, you reach Loomis Road, where the county trail system starts. Before crossing the road, watch out for snowmobilers.
Oak Rim Trail (Intermediate Skill, snowshoe only, 1.9 miles)
Built by Joe Coughlin Sr. and other volunteers, this trail is user friendly; but it is for snowshoers only (no skiers) in the winter and hikers (no bikers) in the summer. The trail runs along the edge of Inman Gulf, with spectacular views and a scenic waterfall. Connecting John Young Nature Trail and Inman Gulf Glide, plus the Williams Truck Road creates the 6.9 mile Inman Gulf Loop.
John Young Nature Trail (Intermediate Skill, 1.7 miles)
This trail winds along Inman Gulf. It was constructed by the Black River Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club in memory of a beloved member who spent many volunteer hours building and maintaining recreational trails. You will pass many interpretive nature signs and a picnic area with a swing and picnic table donated by relatives of John Young. A great place to take a break while your hiking the Inman Gulf Loop.
Inman Gulf Glide Trail (Intermediate Skill, No Beginners, 1.7 miles)
Cut by Forest Ranger Dave Larrabee, with help from Bill Blodgett, this trail runs along the edge of Inman Gulf and through some hilly sections. Scenic Rainbow Falls may be seen on the north side of the rim; gulf Stream courses along the bottom of Inman Gulf. Be cautious when crossing Williams Truck Road because it is a main snowmobile route. In summer, five parking areas along Williams Truck Road allow people to choose loops of different length.
Explorer Trail (Intermediate Skill, 1.6 miles)
This trail was constructed in 1990 by the Explorer Scout Troop of Sackets Harbor. The trail allows skiers on the Electric Loop to increase the trail by .9 mile and experience different scenery. Located in the northwestern section of the ski complex, this trail runs through numerous stands of white spruce.
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