Photo: Scott Levine

Finger Lakes Land Trust Partnership Creates Improved Public Access to Potato Hill State Forest in Tompkins County

The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the opening of a new parking area on Potato Hill State Forest in the town of Caroline, Tompkins County.

“DEC values our partnership with Finger Lakes Land Trust and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference,” said DEC Region 7 Director Matthew Marko. “This collaboration is an essential component of our comprehensive efforts to connect New Yorkers and visitors to the great outdoors.”

DEC and FLLT initiated the project to address public access needs for Potato Hill State Forest and Summerland Farm Nature Preserve on Blackman Hill Road. With support from Finger Lakes Trail Conference, FLLT funded construction of the parking area on the state forest property. DEC designed the parking area and issued a permit for construction. It is now open to the public and provides safe access to Potato Hill State Forest, Summerland Farm Preserve, and the Finger Lakes Trail, which traverses both properties.

Photo: FLLT

“We are grateful for the commitment of the state and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference,” said FLLT Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “This new parking area will provide safe access to a growing network of conservation lands.”

“The Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC) is pleased to support the construction of this new parking lot with a grant from our Sidote Trail Preservation Fund,” said Finger Lakes Trail Conference Executive Director Debra Nero. “The lot provides safe parking for people hiking this portion of the approximately 1,000-mile-long Finger Lakes Trail. The FLTC invites you to park in the lot on Blackman Hill Road and do the short hike to the high point on the FLLT’s Summerland Farm Preserve and admire the amazing views of Tompkins and Tioga counties.”

Potato Hill State Forest encompasses 915 acres of land and is a popular destination for recreational activities including hunting, hiking, snowmobiling, camping, birdwatching, and fishing. The six-acre pond located on the northern portion of the forest offers peaceful scenery as well as valuable habitat for waterfowl, various mammals, snakes, salamanders, frogs, and aquatic invertebrate insects such as dragonflies.

The 140-acre Summerland Farm Preserve has a stunning mix of forest and meadow and sweeping views of the surrounding hills. Bobolinks and Meadowlarks grace the grassland habitat here, and black bears have been observed roaming the hills. Remnants of old logging roads pass through forested sections of the property, guiding visitors through large stands of northern hardwoods.

Both properties are part of the Emerald Necklace, an ambitious effort to link 50,000 acres of existing public open space that extends in an arc around Ithaca – from Finger Lakes National Forest in the west to Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn state forests in the east. These lands host 78 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail, a nearly 1,000-mile system that covers some of the most scenic land in New York.