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Newfield State Forest


Newfield State Forest is located entirely in the Town of Newfield in the southwest corner of Tompkins County. (Topographical map.) It is close to Cliffside State Forest, Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, and Arnot Forest and, as a group, make up a huge swath of roughly 18,000 acres in southwest Tompkins and northeast Schuyler counties open to wildlife watching and recreational enjoyment.

Chaffee Creek Road through the Newfield State Forest in late winter in the Finger Lakes, New York, USA.


The forest is 1,552 acres of mixed--deciduous and coniferous--forest through which runs Chaffee Creek, a small drainage creek beginning in the forest and running west into Pony Hollow. (The water from Chaffee Creek probably eventually drains into Cayuta Creek.) In dry years, Chaffee Creek is very low or completely dry in spots. The creek is shaded and rocks in it make a cool spot for salamanders. Chaffee Creek is the only source of water in the forest.


The trees in the forest grow relatively close together and, in the summer, provide a lot of shade. (This is typical of forests in the area.) Consequently, ground cover is limited and limited to herbaceous plants unless the area has been opened up by natural or unnatural means.


Elevation in the forest is from about 1,400ft./426.6 m. to 1,950 ft./594.3 m. This land can be very steep.

Access and Activities

There are no marked trails through the forest. However, Chaffee Creek and Bull Hill roads (both unpaved) run through the forest for a couple of miles. These roads are open to car and truck traffic,* Chaffee Creek runs under the ice and snow in Newfield State Forest in the Finger Lakes, New York, USA.but they get little. It can be very nice to walk or cross-country ski along these roads, though the western end of Bull Hill Road is rather steep. You will see locals walking their dogs, and you may see people riding horses as Meadowgate, an equine rescue and rehabilitation facility, and Cozy Acres Equine Inn, a horse boarding facility, are next to the forest at the eastern end of Chaffee Creek Road.


*(Although Chaffee Creek and Bull Hill roads are open to car and truck traffic, they are not plowed in the winter. In addition, because they are at a relatively high elevation, they tend to keep their snow longer than most other roads in the county.)


There is a gas pipeline that crosses both Bull Hill and Chaffee Creek roads and runs through Newfield State Forest, then into Arnot Forest, and finally through Cliffside State Forest where it eventually crosses State Route 224 in the Town of Cayuta. The land the pipeline runs under is usually kept free of trees and shrubs. It would make a straight-line hike on which you couldn't get lost. However, it goes over the hilltops and is very steep in many places. I would guestimate that, as the bird flies, the distance is about 5 mi./8 km., however, with all the hills, you would have to double that. It would make a challenging but interesting hike and might provide some superb views from hilltops. I don't know of anyone who has done it.


Mountain biking on Chaffee Creek and Bull Hill roads can be fun if you don't mind anything other than road work. Biking in the forest is not permitted. ATVing anywhere in the forest, including on the roads, is not permitted. If you should see any violations, please report them to the state forest ranger at 607-798-1797. Birding is best in the forest in the spring when the leaves are just coming out. Fall foliage is at its peek around October 1. The forest provides many excellent nature photography opportunities. Camping is allow, but you may have trouble finding a level spot of ground. There's no appreciable amount of running water.

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.


Updated 11 August 2008








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