The 3,446-acre Birdseye Hollow State Forest has two day-use areas, two quiet water paddling opportunities (Sanford Lake and Birdseye Hollow Pond), seven designated primitive lakeside campsites, and nearly 11 miles along the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT).
The white-blazed FLT winds its way mostly north to south through predominately deciduous forest, though several conifer plantations dot the landscape as well. Deep woodlands and babbling brooks occupy the majority of the trail experience here, but there is also the short blue-blazed lakeside trail. The blue trail traverses the transitional space between forest and wetland and offers ample wildlife viewing along the way.
There are a handful of spurs that lead to Birdseye Hollow Pond’s cattail-lined shores. Depending on recent rain, the blue trail and especially the side trails can be slick and muddy. All of these trails are limited to foot travel; no horses or bikes are allowed. The blue trail acts as a nice complement to the FLT and can be accessed from the Birdseye Hollow Pond day-use area.
As expected, pavilions and picnic benches dot both of the day-use areas but there are differences between the two. The 18-acre Sanford Lake has the only easily accessible boat launch as well as seven designated lakeside campsites. On the other hand, Birdseye Hollow Pond has an accessible fishing pier and is the only area with direct access to the trail network.
Sanford Lake is a true glacial lake — a lake formed by massive chunks of ice bulldozed and left behind when the Laurentide ice sheets receded millennia ago. Birdseye Hollow Pond, meanwhile, was created by damming Mud Creek. Paddling on the 70-acre Birdseye Hollow Pond is permitted, but is limited to hand launches and requires portage from the parking area. Paddlers will either have to cross the bridge that leads to the fishing pier or scout out a means to launch on the shore nearer to the parking area. Either will require a portage of several hundred feet. Neither waterbody permits usage by boats more powerful than an electric motor, so boaters and visitors alike will enjoy tranquil quiet waters.
Camping is permitted throughout the state forest sections, following the DEC’s at-large camping guidelines, but not within the day-use areas, with the exception of seven primitive sites along the shores of Sanford Lake. These sites require a permit and campers must pre-register at the Bath NYS DEC office; note that permits are limited from Memorial Day through Labor Day and are not available on site.