According to an announcement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), on Sunday, April 30th, while on patrol in Livingston County, DEC Forest Ranger Cordell was following up on a tip that a lock was missing from one of the gates at Sonyea State Forest in the town of Groveland, Livingston County, NY. Ranger Cordell reported that will securing the gate they noticed five Jeep Wranglers traveling together.
Sonyea State Forest has a history of illegal, off-road motor vehicle use on the property so the Ranger watched from a distance and the Jeeps eventually made their way to a trail that is off-limits to motor vehicles. Ranger Cordell said they blocked the Jeeps’ exit point and issued five tickets for illegal motor vehicle use on state forest lands.
The 922-acre Sonyea State Forest shares a common boundary with Groveland Correctional Facility. The Genesee Valley Greenway State Park (GVG) (leaves DEC website) passes through Sonyea State Forest, following the remains of the Genesee Canal and of a major branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
The original path of the canal/railroad was along the banks of the Keshequa Creek, and portions are still there and usable, however large sections have washed away downstream. As a result of this damage the official path through Sonyea State Forest has been moved to along the town and Shaker Access Road/DEC Public Forest Access Roads at the top of the hill.
The original location of the railroad grade is still open for public use, at least what is left of it is, and it is popular to walk past the gate and down about 0.3 mile into the Keshequa Gorge and along about a mile of what is left of the railroad grade along the creek bank.
Two short spur trails lead down to the water’s edge, one to a waterfall and the other to Toadfest Point. Both areas are used for camping and picnicking.
Photos of one of five Jeeps being driven illegally on the Sonyea State Forest on April 30, 2023 and damage from off-roading there provided by DEC.