Welcome to Smith Woods!

Entrance to Smith Woods

Henry A. Smith Woods is a 32-acre old-growth forest located in Trumansburg, New York. Henry Atterbury Smith (1822-1891) was a businessman from New York City who had purchased this parcel of land as a summer residence and although he visited the property sparingly, he was a well known member of the Trumansburg community. In 1909, this undeveloped forest fragment was left to the Village of Trumansburg by Henry A Smith’s sons to be preserved as a public park forever. The purpose of the park is “to execute and carry out the terms of the trust in the spirit of the grant, namely the preservation of the park in its natural state and for educational and recreational purposes”.

In 2007, ownership of this forest was transferred to Cayuga Nature Center to continue it’s use as an educational site. Since the transfer, a loop trail was created and the Cayuga Nature Center staff have continued to uphold the mission of the park through school visits and public hikes. Smith Woods is open to the public year round.

Welcome to Smith Woods (click to enlarge). The welcome sign at Smith Woods

What is an Old-Growth Forest?

Fern in Smith Woods

An old-growth forest, also known as a primeval or virgin forest, is one that does not have any significant disturbance, particularly human, and usually has unique biodiversity features. Most forests in North America are considered secondary forests, in that they have been cut down and have since regrown. Old-growth forests are generally heavily stratified; they have very distinct and different layers. It is because of the diverse stratification that these older forests can sustain various species of animals and plants and allow them to live in the same place at the same time.

Old-growth forests often have large trees as well as standing dead trees. They also contain layered canopies with tree-fall gaps and a woody forest floor. These forests often have communities of plants and animals that have survived over long periods of time, sometimes even rare species that are not found in the more common younger forests.

Planning a visit to Henry A. Smith Woods

Smith Woods is located on Route 96 in Trumansburg, NY just across from the Trumansburg Fair Grounds and Grove Cemetery.

Map to Smith Woods

How to get there

By Public Transportation

Public Transportation Taking TCAT (Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit) is convenient and easy! To visit Henry A. Smith Woods, hop on TCAT Route 21 from downtown Ithaca, right off the Ithaca Commons. Ask the driver to stop at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds or ShurSave. Plan your trip and more with TCAT.

From Geneva (North)

  • Turn Right onto Route 14 South. Turn Left on Route US-20.
  • Merge onto Route 96A South.
  • Follow Route 96A to Route 96 South for about 30 miles (~35 minutes).
  • Smith Woods is located on your left, across from the Trumansburg Fair Grounds — just before the Sure Save.

Approximate driving time: 45 minutes.

From Ithaca Commons area (South)

  • Head West on East Seneca St towards Rt. 13
  • Turn Right onto Route 13 North, merging into the Left lane.
  • Turn Left on Route 96/West Buffalo Street. Stay in the Left lane, following signs for Route 96 and the Hospital.
  • Continue on Route 96 towards Trumansburg for about 10 miles.

Approximate driving time: 15 minutes.

Things to know about visiting Smith Woods

White Trillium at Smith Woods

White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) is one of the many protected plants found in Smith Woods.

  • The best place to park is along Cemetery Street that runs along the North side of Smith Woods.
  • Smith Woods is open to the public year round from dawn until dusk. Overnight Camping and campfires are NOT permitted.
  • Please stay on the trails — the plants and other organisms that live in Smith Woods are delicate and stepping off the trail will disturb their sensitive ecosystems.
  • To help preserve the forest in it’s natural state, please take only pictures. Do not pick leaves, flowers, or fungi. Many of the plants that live in Smith Woods are protected under New York State Conservation Law and it is a violation to collect or destroy these plants.
  • Carry in, Carry out. There are no trash receptacles at this location so please bring all garbage out of the park with you.
  • Alcohol is not permitted on this property.
  • Be respectful of fellow visitors.
  • Please limit hiking groups to no more than 8 people at a time — this limit helps to preserve the forest.
  • Dogs are allowed on leash but please pick up after your pet.

If you have any additional questions or are interested in booking a guided hike of Smith Woods, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Learn More!

Book cover

Smith Woods: The Environmental History of an Old-Growth Forest Remnant in Central New York State

Just outside the Village of Trumansburg, in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, is a 32-acre plot that is one of the largest remaining flat tracts of old-growth forest in the area. This small but spectacular place, with its enormous trees, dense forest canopy, and never-plowed ground is a glimpse into the past. A walk through this small forested area may be the closest one can get in central New York to experiencing a landscape like the first Europeans encountered across most of the region in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

This book is the story of how this little forest — known as Smith Woods — came to be, and how it persisted through the years when other old-growth forests met their demise by the axe and saw. Combining perspectives from geology, ecology, history, and anthropology, the authors weave a narrative history of the many influences — human and non-human — that have shaped this patch of land over the past 20,000 years since it emerged from the last glacial period. It is the story not just of Smith Woods, but of the forests that once covered almost all of northeastern North America.

Hikers at Smith Woods