Tracy Creek State Forest (Vestal, NY)

northeast section of tracy creek state forest

northeast section of tracy creek state forest

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) apparently sells rights to cut firewood at Tracy Creek State Forest, and it feels that way as you walk through. The only trails are wood roads in varying states of disrepair. The layout of the property is something like a cubist starfish, each of the arms extending into a sea of private property. This can make access a challenge. If you drive something with high clearance that was designed to be taken off-road then you shouldn’t have any trouble. If you’re looking for a place to park your sedan, however, you may end up driving around for a while, particularly along Crumm Road in the northeast.

not tracy creek

not tracy creek

wetland at tracy creek sf

wetland at tracy creek sf

Access is somewhat easier along Collins Road in the southernmost portion of the forest, near the Pennsylvania border.  The small section to the east of that road is probably the most interesting. I read that there was a small wetland there, so I went to see for myself. I followed a trail south from Collins to where the unnamed creek was shown on the DEC map. The trail is really overgrown in places, but does open into a small clearing eventually (above, right). It looks like any field from a distance, but is in fact too wet to walk across in places. A creek (above left), which doesn’t seem to be named on any map I’ve seen, runs through the field. I could see lots of small fish in the creek, though it was difficult to approach because of the marshy banks. There were a couple of trees that had been chewed by beavers a long time ago, but I didn’t see any evidence of a current presence.

tracy creek salamander

tracy creek salamander

This area, in spite of its close proximity to occupied houses, seems to have an abundance of wildlife. I did see signs of deer all over the place, and occasional signs of bear. There are lots of squirrels and chipmunks, naturally, and a variety of birds. A newt ran across the trail in front of me in the northeast section (pictured right), and I flushed a grouse or something near one of the parking spots above the southeast section.

Tracy Creek isn’t the prettiest piece of land I’ve seen in New York, and you can hear some human activity in most parts of the starfish, which forbids a completely idyllic experience. It is interesting, however, and well worth a look. It’s also very close to Binghamton University in Vestal, and students there may find it to be the most easily accessible state land.

Links:

Google Map: Tracy Creek State Forest
NY DEC: Tracy Creek State Forest

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