Hoxie Gorge State Forest (Virgil, NY)

trail through larch forest at hoxie gorge

trail through larch forest at hoxie gorge

Hoxie Gorge State Forest is most closely associated with the City of Marathon, though it is technically comprised of lands in the towns of Freetown, Cortlandville, and Virgil. It is easily accessible, as it lies along Interstate 81, directly opposite Tuller Hill State Forest.

When I first entered this forest from the south, I followed the DEC map to Russell Hill PFAR from Steve Russell Hill Road and came to a dead end. Nothing is marked, of course, so I thought I’d badly misread something. It turned out that the PFAR is not made distinct from the snowmobile trail shown on the DEC rendering. Google maps clearly shows that there are two access roads which run toward each other (one from the north and one from the south), but don’t meet in the middle. You can’t drive through the entire forest. This is a minor issue, but a good reminder to not rely entirely on free DEC publications.

former farmland planted with spruce

former farmland planted with spruce

There are a number of informal trails which depart from the southern PFAR. One, about 1/4 mile from the dead end, was surprisingly well maintained. The trail immediately opened up into a well manicured clearing on the edge of a plot of planted spruce. Further west, the trail worked its way through  a larch forest, then mixed coniferous and hardwood forest, and finally ended at a fence within earshot of I-81.

On one occasion, I stopped for a while and made a campfire just off the clearing at the top of this trail. As the afternoon drifted into dusk, something could be heard breaking down trees on the other side of some very dense cover. They weren’t small branches. I could hear the wood breaking in stages as more and more force was applied to it. I assume that it was a bear, though I didn’t see it. They are reasonably common in New York, and I don’t know of anything else that would be capable of such a thing. In any case, I made some noise and the racket stopped. Then I doused the fire and left before it got too dark.

northern pfar in hoxie gorge sf

northern pfar in hoxie gorge sf

The PFAR in the northern section of Hoxie Gorge lent some support to my hypothesis on the tree-breaker, as it was completely littered with apples in places. The DEC has apparently planted dozens of apple trees along the road to enhance hunting opportunities in the fall.

The road in the north is steep, and was pretty well washed out when I was last there, though probably passable with a jeep or truck.

Links:

Google Map: Hoxie Gorge State Forest
NY DEC: Hoxie Gorge State Forest

 

 

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