With 63,700-plus acres that make up 32 state lands, Chenango County is home to the most public wilderness in New York outside of the Adirondacks. That provides quite the setting for virtually any outdoor activity.
“We like to get the public out into the rural environment of Central New York,” says Simon Solomon, executive director of the Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne. “The recreation is really endless here.”
Indeed, there are activities in any season, be it birdwatching in spring, creek-walking throughout summer, leaf peeping during the fall or cross-country skiing come winter.
Most any state forest here can be just as rewarding for hunters as they are for hikers. From horseback riding to snowmobiling, Chenango County offers countless options for any outdoor adventurer. Here are just a few activities and places you won’t want to miss.
Start at Rogers Environmental Education Center
Any outdoors enthusiast traveling to or passing through Chenango County should make a stop at Rogers. The 600 acres that make up the property are an ideal introduction to the hiking, fishing and paddling possibilities in the area. In addition to six miles of trails through beautiful terrain and access to the Chenango River, the knowledgeable staff at the nonprofit center (which is open year round) is happy to point you in the right direction depending on your interest. As one of the only places to rent cross-country skis and snowshoes, it’s also a great location to get some outdoor exercise during the colder months.
Watch the Wildlife at Wolf Mountain Nature Center
Gray wolves, arctic foxes and eastern coyotes are the main inhabitants of this unique preserve dedicated to education about and appreciation of these majestic and fascinating canids. Guided and self-tours are available year round with the exception of January for fans of watchable wildlife. The exhibits allow viewers to get within as little as four feet from the rare animals or observe them in packs on the property’s 60-plus acres of scenic woods, fields and ponds.
Hike the Finger Lakes Trail
Chenango County includes five sections and 78 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail System, a massive network of 1,000 hike-able miles that stretch from the Western New York/Pennsylvania border deep into the Catskill Mountains. Well-maintained and clearly marked, this destination-worthy path includes a number of branch trails that form loops of varying distances to accommodate hikers and backpackers of all skill levels.
Camp at Hunts Pond
Adventurous campers are welcome to hunker down on the waterfront of this hidden outdoor recreation oasis from the beginning of May through the end of September. Once a New York state park, a dozen unmaintained campsites remain among the 1,397 hiker, angler and hunter friendly acres of the Hunts Pond State Forest. The spacious pond itself is open to boating and paddling via a hand launch.
Paddle the Chenango River
Hardcore canoers and kayakers can navigate hundreds of watery miles all the way down to the Chesapeake Bay if they’re so inclined as this key Chenango County river feeds into the watershed. The slightly less ambitious can easily plan a pleasant morning, afternoon or day trip on the waterway that contains remnants of the historic Chenango Canal and flows through the communities of Sherburne, Norwich, Oxford and Greene.
Visit Bowman Lake State Park
Those who prefer to stick to the more beaten path should find their way to Bowman Lake State Park, one of Chenango County’s most popular outdoor recreation destinations. The park is packed with campsites and miles of trails that provide plenty of opportunity for hiking, biking and birding alongside the lake well known locally for boating and swimming.
Unwind at Rexford Falls
The serene sounds and outstanding views above the falls near Sherburne make it a favorite respite for locals. The footbridge suspended over Rexford Falls offers a unique vantage point of the 60-foot water feature.
So, stop by anytime and don’t forget your boots, bike, paddle or pole. Whatever you like to do outdoors can be done in Chenango County.