Finger Lakes National Forest is the only national forest in New York yet relatively unknown. Covering 16,259 acres it is the second smallest National Forest in the US, Tuskegee National Forest in Alabama is smaller.
As its name implies it’s within the Finger Lakes, between Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lakes. Its use is defined as multipurpose land with nearly a third of the acreage pastureland for dairy and beef cattle rising.
Recreational use of the national forest is camping, fishing, hunting hiking or horseback riding over its 33-mile trail route. Its trails traverse gorges, ravines, pastures and woodlands. Summer blueberry picking is popular and winter has cross country skiing and snowmobiling over its rolling terrain.
The forest is beech, chestnut, elm, hickory, maple, oak, and pine. Second growth woodland, and pasture occasionally has remnant stonewalls, and artifacts of former area residents as evidence of past historical record.
Three campgrounds are in the forest. Blueberry Patch campground is a small semi-private campground next to a large blueberry patch on route 2. Nine sites are $10 a night from mid-May to October 31.
Backbone Horse Campground is a small semi-private campground for campers or picnickers with horses. It is open all year with no fee but free permit required for horse users.
Potomac Group Campground is a primitive group campground for groups of 8 to 40 people. It’s ideally suited for family events or youth group activities. It has a large pavilion, picnic tables, cooking grills, camping areas and vault toilets. The site requires a short 200-yard walk to access the facility. There is a charge of $10 per night for up to 20 people, with reservations required.
The Finger Lakes are eleven truly finger shaped lakes east of US 390 extending east short of US 86 near Syracuse its southern boundary of route 17. Due to its characteristics it is one of the largest wine producing areas in the eastern US.
Iroquois Indians originally inhabited the area, with the legend that God placed his handprint on this beautiful area forming the Finger Lakes. The lake names were from the Six Nations of the Iroquois, the Cayuga’s, Mohawks, Onogagas, Oneidas, Seneca’s and Tuscarora’s.
Hector NY is a town of 4,854 16 miles west of Ithaca NY and 8 miles north of Watkins Glen. It was first settled in 1790 with the first permanent settlement in 1791. Finger Lakes National Forest Service office is headquartered in Hector on route 414.
Finger Lakes National Forest is a 90 minute drive of 80 miles from Rochester NY. Drive I-90 east exiting route 96A in Waterloo. Drive route 96A south then route 414 south to Hector.
Now with the opening of another spring season coming is time to start planning some great outdoor activities. Finger Lakes National Forest is a place of tremendous potential if you enjoy the outdoors. It won’t be long to put your plans into action with some great weather days ahead,