Bear Swamp State Forest

November 7, 2011 at 1:01 am Leave a comment

Finger Lakes Summer

Starting out the roads were flat and dry. Doesn't this look ideal?

Bear Swamp State Forest is located on two state forests of 3,316 acres in Cayuga County. This area is known for the large wetland and creek that bisects the forest. I should have realized that the word “swamp” might be a warning, but I had driven the roads earlier in the summer and thought they would be perfect for a fall bike ride — after the biting bugs died.

Finger lakes Summer

Skaneateles Lake in fall

This large chunk of forest is located at the southwestern end of Skaneateles Lake. On a sunny fall day, the ride to and from was probably more blog-worthy than the bike ride.

Finger Lakes Summer

Multiple entrances, multiple trails, access road is a quiet bike ride.

bear swamp trail map

Trails are accessed via three parking lots on state forest land. The west entrance is just off Route 41A and Harnett Road, and behind the lodge. (This road is not particularly well-marked, so seeing the lodge is important.)

The south entry point is the parking lot about .25 miles north along the Bear Swamp Road from its intersection with the Iowa Road.

The north entry point is at the end of the Curtin Road, about 1.5 miles from Route 41A.

We chose this entrance. There was a place to park and we took our bikes in a big loop from Bear Swamp Road to the Ridge Road, which ventures outside the state land. We saw many small cabins in the process of being spruced up by ambitious hunters.

Ignore that the road is getting muddier — look at the colors!

Starting out was great. Rolling hills, (Charlie said they were all uphill) sunshine, and very little traffic.

Finger Lakes Summer

Even my camera got muddy

As we went further the road was getting puddlier. Eventually it was impossible to ride without plowing through LOTS of mud. It did nothing for our back sides. By the time we completed the loop no mother would want us.

There are wonderful all-season trails that can be accessed from every entrance and are well-marked. This is a very popular spot for cross-country skiing. The trails wind through old growth forest, former farm land with apple trees and old rock walls, and did I mention the swamp?


Entry filed under: Activities, Biking, Cross Country Skiing, Environmental Protection Fund, Finger Lakes, Hiking, New York, New York State Parks, Skaneateles Lake, Snowshoeing. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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