Shindagin Hollow State Forest

Irish Settlement Road
NY 13053

Shindagin Hollow State Forest

Public Forest/Natural AreaBicycle SiteEco-Tour/Nature WalkNatural Corridor/GreenwayPedestrian FriendlyBird and Wildlife WatchingSnow Activity Site


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State Forest area great for hiking, mountain biking, cross-county skiing, and snow shoeing. Trails include Short Loop 4.8 miles, Intermediate Loop 8 miles, and Long Loop 15.5 miles.
Shindagin Hollow State Forest (Tompkins #3) covers 5,266 acres of land in the towns of Caroline in southern Tompkins County and Candor in northern Tioga County. It is one of two forests covered by the Rapid Waters Unit Management Plan. Its large size and good access from public roads make this a great forest to enjoy activities such as mountain biking, hunting, hiking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, bird watching, nature viewing, picnicking and camping.
The Shindagin Hollow State Forest is located on the Allegheny Plateau, which is made of sedimentary bedrock that formed some 350 million years ago when the region was covered by an ancient saltwater sea. Geologists believe that the plateau was created during a collision of the North American and African continents some 250 to 330 million years ago. The collision lifted the bedrock, which has since been shaped by continual weathering and the advance and retreat of continental ice sheets (glaciers). The glaciers created the 'U' shaped valleys of the region and the Finger Lakes. The last glacier left New York State about 10,000 years ago.
Human settlement followed the retreat of the glacier. Tompkins County was originally home to members of the Iroquois Confederation or Haudenosaunee, specifically the Cayuga Nation. The Haudenosaunee was established in circa 1570 under the influence of Hiawatha. It was a bond between five nations: the Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, Mohawk, and the Onondaga. In 1715, the Tuscarora nation was added making it a league of six nations. The Cayuga's, who were the main inhabitants of the Tompkins County area, did not use the land heavily. They had semi-permanent dwellings placed near freshwater sources which enabled them to locate and transport game, as well as irrigate their crops without causing great stress to the land.
Early settlers and Revolutionary War Veterans referred to the area as "Dark Forest" because the forest was so dense that only small traces of light penetrated through the canopy. However, the new settlers had many superstitions involving forests, and they had little or no experience in producing forest goods. They therefore decided to clear the area almost entirely for use as farmland. The timber that was not used for carpentry was burned, becoming a valuable by-product known as potash. This process continued until almost the entire land was converted from dense forest to open fields, leaving the landscape seemly forever changed.
Soils on area hilltops, however, have major limitations for intensive crop production, including a seasonally high water table, low fertility, moderate to high acidity and steep slopes. Early farmers quickly learned that the combination of long, harsh winters and thin, fine textured upland soils would not support intensive agriculture. As such, many of the farmlands were sold or abandoned as farmers sought more fertile lands in the Midwest.
During the Great Depression of the 1930's, the landscape would be transformed again. In order to reduce soil erosion, protect water quality, provide forest products and recreational opportunities, the State of New York began acquiring property for reforestation during the 1930's under the auspices of the State Reforestation Law of 1929 and the Hewitt Amendment of 1931. These laws allowed the Conservation Department to acquire land, by gift or purchase, for reforestation. Properties had to be a minimum of 500 acres of contiguous land.
Although the Hewitt Amendment was a major acquisition catalyst throughout New York State, about 73% of Shindagin Hollow State Forest was acquired from the federal government in January of 1956. From 1933 to 1937, as part of Roosevelt Administration's New Deal, the federal government purchased about 8 million acres in the Appalachians through what was called the sub-marginal land purchase program. The program purchased land with limited crop production capacity and in some cases promoted the resettlement of farm families whose land had been bought by the federal government. Van Etten Civilian Conservation Corp. Camp S-81, Caroline Center Youth Camp and New York State Conservation Department crews planted more than 2,231,700 tree seedlings on 2,105 acres from 1935 to 1952. Most of the seedlings were softwood species such as red pine, white pine, Norway spruce and Scotch pine. Today, forest covers about 67% of the surrounding landscape, while crop land and pasture cover about 27%.
Field Notes
The Shindagin Hollow State Forest has many different wildlife habitats. DEC forest managers conserve, protect and enhance forest ecosystems by developing a mix of young (early successional), middle-aged and old (late successional) forest types. Deliberate management over the last eight decades has created different types and ages of forest habitat. State Forests are managed to conserve water quality, provide diverse wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and a sustainable supply of locally grown forest products such as firewood and sawtimber. As such, the forest is a great place to view ecosystem management and habitat management in action. Future management actions will be guided by the Rapid Waters Unit Management Plan once completed.

TCAT bus routes 52 and 53 go to nearest towns (Town of Caroline and Brooktondale), not to the forest.

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