The Winona State Forest is located on the boundary of southern Jefferson County and northern Oswego County. It is east of interstate #81, west of Littlejohn Wildlife Management Area and is on the western edge of the Tug Hill Plateau.
This 9,233-acre state forest offers many recreational opportunities, including: hiking, skiing, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, trapping, dog sledding, birdwatching and horseback riding. The unit contains 21.8 miles of cross-country ski trails, 8.7 miles of snowmobile trails (some designated New York State Snowmobile Corridor Trails), 9.9 miles forest roads, and 5 parking lots.
This reforestation land was once farmland, and during the late 1930's and 1940's, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted evergreen trees, built roads, ponds, and buildings on this land. As the trees have grown to maturity, foresters have marked many stands for wood products, including red pine poles going overseas, pulpwood to local paper mills, black cherry to Harden Furniture and chips for energy.
Around 1980, DEC staff and local cross country skiing enthusiasts met to discuss a trail system, including one for cross country ski racing. This was logical since the Tug Hill Plateau has the biggest snowfall east of the Rockies and has reliable snow cover throughout the winter. The trails became known as the Tug Hill Tourathon Trails. Each year since then, new trails have been added. Much volunteer work went into this project and DEC Operations crews, with their heavy equipment and manpower, has made these trails what they are today.
Over the past years, many different groups have enjoyed the use of these trails, but this has made for some difficulty in how to designate which trails would be used and for what purpose. The Western Edge Recreational Association was developed around 1995 to bring together all the users: skiers, snowmobilers, dog sledders, horse owners, hunters, bikers, and orienteering people.
With the melding of ideas, resources and manpower, Winona State Forest has become one of New York State's best venues for recreation, and at the same time, provides valuable timber resources.