hike #31

Hammond Hill State Forest

NYS DEC information for Hammond Hill State Forest here:

Hammond Hill State Forest, 3,618 acres in size, straddles the towns of Dryden and Caroline. The multi-use trails and seasonal roads within the state forest offer a variety of hike route options.

There are five distinct meeting points around the forest perimeter that we use as trailheads. Each trailhead has its own unique appeal.

Trailhead #1: North end of Hammond Hill Rd.

This location is our most commonly used trailhead for group hikes, with the best parking of any of the listed trailheads and access to the trail system on the west and north sides of the state forest.

This is also the trailhead that’s most commonly used by skiers, equestrians, and other hikers. This means we’re more likely to share the trail with other people when we start from this location.

This is a great place to hike as long as there’s no snow on the ground. In winter months you should stay away from most of the trails within this state forest. HHSF is the #1 place in the county for crosscountry skiing, and walking on ski trails ruins them for skiing.

In other seasons, though, hiking here is wonderful. There are enough ups and downs to make the hike lively, and there are a number of beautiful pine groves and lovely woods.

It’s often windy at the parking lot. Once you get into the woods it usually calms down.

The current State Forest map is found here: Hammond Hill State Forest Trail Map.

A downloadable version of the map for your smart devices is available here: Hammond Hill State Forest MAP – www.bikeski.org Canaan Institute’s Outdoor Blog.

In general, you shouldn’t try to hike here without bringing a detailed paper map unless you already know the trails. Otherwise, it’s easy to get lost. Almost every year, lost hikers and skiers must be rescued in this forest.

Meetup:  Dead end of Hammond Hill Road, east of Irish Settlement Road.

Click here to see the Google Maps page showing the location of the parking lot for this trailhead.  The only way to get onto upper Hammond Hill Road is from Irish Settlement Road.  Don’t ever try to come up Hammond Hill Road from the southerly stub end of Hammond Hill Rd. off of Harford or Flat Iron roads. The middle seasonal portion of Hammond Hill Rd. is unmaintained and entirely impassible for most vehicles.

Trailhead #2: Hammond Hill State Forest from Canaan Rd.

This trailhead offers access to the eastern and southern trails and seasonal roads that may be out of reach of hikes started from the north end of Hammond Hill Rd.

This trailhead requires a little more road walking to get to the hiking trails than we encounter from the northern Hammond Hill trailhead. Because the trailhead is in a low-lying part of the forest, any hikes will involve some moderate uphills.

Meetup: End of maintained portion of Canaan Rd.

Directions from Ithaca:

  • Take NY-79E to Slaterville Springs.
  • About 1/2 mile after the Dandy Mart, turn left onto Harford Rd.
  • After about 2.7 miles, turn left onto Canaan Rd.
  • Continue on Canaan Rd. until you reach the end of the maintained portion of the road. Look for our cars in the parking area here.

241 Canaan Rd – Google Maps This is an approximate Google pin; look for the end of the maintained portion of the roadway.

Individual hikers who want to hike this route on their own can park at several locations along the seasonal portions of Canaan or Ganowachgerage Road. This has the benefit of shortening the early road-walking portion of this hike. Just be sure your vehicle is suited to driving on a seasonal road.

Trailhead #3: Hammond Hill SF from Route 38 south of Dryden

This trailhead offers access to the FLT and the Hammond Hill trails from the northeasterly side of the State Forest. This is a lesser-used trailhead compared to the northerly end of Hammond Hill.

The FLT is available to us year-round from this trailhead. This end of Star Stanton Rd is part of the FLT footpath.

Meet at the FLT trailhead at the end of the maintained portion of the stub end of Star Stanton Rd off of State Route 38 South of the Village of Dryden ( not the OTHER stub end of Star Stanton Rd that runs off of Hammond Hill Rd). See Google link here:

Finger Lakes Trail – Star Stanton Road Trailhead – Google Maps

In summer months it is possible to save some of the initial hill climbing and park on Star Stanton Rd beyond the depicted trailhead; in winter months its best to park near the end of the maintained roadway. There is a turnaround area at the trailhead; in winter months its best to park along the roadway to save the turn-around for snowplows. 

From the trailhead, hikers walk west and south along the seasonal portion of Star Stanton Rd ( which is also part of the FLT treadway ).

It is very easy to miss the turn of the FLT to the south from Star Stanton Rd, so close attention to blazes is suggested. If hikers miss the turn there is no harm done, as the seasonal roadway leads to other trails and seasonal roads on Hammond Hill. As those trails are heavily used in winter by skiers its best to avoid possible conflicts and stay on the FLT.

Once the FLT leaves Star Stanton Rd and enters the woods its a very enjoyable hike through mixed woods, with minor stream crossings and elevation gains until the FLT joins the other multi-use trails as it continued south.

This can be either an out-and-back hike or a loop hike, depending on how the hike leader has designed that days route.

Trailhead #4: Hammond Hill Rd., southern stub end

Coming into the State Forest from the southerly stub-end of Hammond Hill Rd puts most of the State Forests trail system out of reach of the group for our normal two hour hike times, but a road walk of the abandoned and unmaintained portion of Hammond Hill Rd makes for a nice woods walk from this trailhead. Parts of the road surface were improved for recent logging work in the State Forest, which helps make the hike more enjoyable.

Access this portion of Hammond Hill Rd by driving through the hamlet of Slaterville Springs from Ithaca and turning left onto Harford Rd. Opposite Flat Iron Rd, turn left onto the stub end of Hammond Hill Rd.

This Google pin is approximate; there are two snowplow turn-arounds but parking along the road may be your best option.

Hammond Hill Rd – Google Maps

Trailhead #5: Hammond Hill from Star Stanton Rd. off Hammond Hill Rd.

Parking area for the more Northerly Yellow and Green Trails on the maintained portion of Star Stanton Rd

137 Star Stanton Rd – Google Maps

The above pin is to the only occupied home on Star Stanton Rd off of Hammond Hill Rd. Please understand that the actual parking area for this hike is a few hundred yards below the pin, across from an abandoned house that we can’t drop a pin on.

Do NOT rely solely on the Google map pin to get to the meeting location, as Google pins in rural areas are unreliable. Contact hike leader before the hike if you are unsure of your destination.

Directions from Ithaca:

Take State Route 13 North, towards the village of Dryden.

Before arriving in Dryden you’ll find Irish Settlement Rd on the right side of the road.

Take Irish Settlement Rd until you find Hammond Hill Rd on the left

Turn onto Hammond Hill Rd; Star Stanton Rd is your first left turn

Do NOT attempt to drive Hammond Hill Rd from its southerly stub end on Harford Rd in the Town of Caroline; the middle section of Hammond Hill Rd is closed and impassable to vehicle traffic

Yellow and Green trails on the Hammond Hill map here:

Hammond Hill State Forest Trail Map

Last edit 09/2023 JFR

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