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Danby State Forest


The Danby State Forest is located almost entirely in the Town of Danby in Tompkins County with a small southerly portion in the Town of Spencer in Tioga County. Topographical map.


The forest was formed in the 1930s when the State bought a number of homesteads and farms. Some of the displaced families moved away while others stayed in the town. Old stone foundations can still be found in among the trees as can the old hand-dug wells. (These wells can be very dangerous, so watch out.)


A one-lane road running through the Danby State Forest in Danby, New York.The forest is 7,100 acres of a mixture of trees and understory vegetation but especially hemlock, beech, maple, oak, and white pine. The land is hilly with many small creeks and streams that run south, draining eventually into the Susquehanna River. The forest is a good representation of present-day upland forest habitat. If you're diligent and look hard, you can find a wide variety of ferns and fungi with some orchids.


The forest is home to many of the animals native to the Finger Lakes. Some of the most interesting are the black bear, the black rat snake, the wood turtle, and the goshawk. Although you may not see these, you are likely to see gray and red squirrels, white-tail deer, turkeys, red foxes, chipmunks, and many other animals.


Hiking is very popular in the forest, which is bisected by the Finger Lakes Trail (map M-17). There are two lean-tos--the Chestnut and the Tamarak--on the trail to provide shelter. Birding and photography are also popular. Mountain biking is not permitted in the forest, but the many dirt roads through the forest are excellent places to ride. (ATVs are not allowed on any roads in the Town.) The Danby State Forest is a great place to go leaf peeping. By October 1, the hillsides are a tapestry of colors. Warm fall days can be some of the nicest to be in the forest, as there are no biting insects and migrating birds are abundant. In the winter when snow is on the ground, the forest is a great place to cross-country ski and snowshoe.

In autumn, the entire Finger Lakes region, including the Danby State Forest, is a tapestry of color.


The forest is easy to access as many roads run through it. There are no designated parking places, but some of the better ones are listed below. Find these spots on the topographical map of the area.

Popular Parking Places

On South Danby Rd. where the Finger Lakes Trail crosses the road.

On Bald Hill Rd. at the intersection of Comfort Rd.

On Bald Hill Rd. about 250 ft./76 m. south of the intersection of Station Rd. under some large trees.

On Michigan Hollow Rd. where the Finger Lakes Trail crosses the road.

Words to the Wise

1. The Scots may have midges, but we have six species of black fly and two types of deer fly, all of which bite. They especially like the face and arms, so take whatever precautions you feel necessary.


2. In the beginning of July the temperature can be 70°F/21°C with 70% humidity. The humidity can be oppressive. Make sure you bring plenty of water.


3. Because of the hills, cell/mobile phones generally don't work in the forest.


4. Although fleas and ticks are few and far between, if you wear shorts, tall socks would be a good thing to wear.


5. A hat would also be nice.


6. So would a compass or GPS.


7. Please don't allow your dog to roam or chase wildlife.


8. Most baby animals that seem to be abandoned are not. Leave them where they are.


9. You are allowed to camp in state forests, but if you plan to stay longer than three nights or are a group, you must have a permit from the regional office of the Department of Environmental Conservation.








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